Watch your tone

Welcome to our new series of blogs on realising the potential of your brand. In this series, we’re going to take you through the minefield of unravelling the challenges of optimising your brand for business success. From uncovering your purpose to developing the right positioning, finessing your identity and tone of voice to driving brand awareness in a crowded market.

This blog focuses on the tone of voice.

“Watch your tone”

I’m sure you’ve heard that saying at some point in your life, most likely when you were younger and ‘pushing the boundaries’.

When you’re talking to someone, you may find you alter your tone depending on whom you’re speaking to – for example, it’s likely you speak quite differently to your partner than to a potential business client. The language you use, the tone you choose and the emphasis you place on words are different as you want to present yourself in a certain way. This is you selecting your tone of voice for your audience, your brand is no different.

Your brand’s tone of voice is an expression of your business’s personality and values. How you articulate these defines the personality that you adopt as a brand.  You can choose to be friendly, witty, straight-talking, informative, motivational, challenging or playful. Your tone of voice may be defined by the industry you’re in, but alternatively, you might want to break the paradigms! What is important is that it aligns to your values, visual identity, company culture and resonates with your customers.

Once you have defined a personality that suits, the language you use to support your tone of voice should be used consistently across your communications, so your customers understand who you are and you can have a clear conversation with them. But it doesn’t stop there – it should also filter through your workplace, so if a customer rings up, the person who answers the phone communicates in the same tone of voice, creating a consistent brand experience. This consistency has many benefits:

Complement brand identity

Brand identity and tone of voice go hand-in-hand, one supports the other and vice versa. Used correctly, a complementary tone of voice helps to strengthen your brand identity in the market.

Resonate with your audience

Your brand positioning is supported by your tone of voice, so using a tone that reflects this will help to build a rapport with your audience and strengthen your relationship with them.

Stand out proud

Your tone of voice is key in setting you apart from your competitors and allows you to carve a distinct and ownable positioning in the marketplace.

Here are two examples of brands with a tone of voice that encompasses who they are and how they use it to help them cut through their category:

Nike

Nike never advertises just a pair of trainers. Instead, they lead with imagery and powerful, emotive copy that motivates everyone to not only exercise but do their best. The copy helps to describe or suggest a lifestyle, way of thinking and culture.

Method

Cleaning was historically a mundane category, with some brands that tried to inject humour (we all know Mr Muscle) and power. Enter Method, a new, eco-friendly player in the market that cut through with simple language that matched their simple and stand out product-range. They’ve struck a lovely balance between playful and informative; a straightforward tone of voice tells you what you need to know.

We realise we have used that word ‘consistency’ again. You might be thinking that your brand has multiple audiences, so how can one tone of voice work for all them?

We did some work for one of our clients recently who has six different target audiences – but that didn’t mean six separate tones of voice. Instead, we defined the seven different attributes to create the tone of voice and created a ‘graphic equaliser’ for each audience. This allowed the brand to dial-up or down certain parts of the language and tone of voice in line with the audience they were talking to. This helps the overarching brand stay consistent, whilst allowing the brand to speak to each audience’s needs.

If your brand’s tone of voice needs defining because it has become fragmented over time, or your business has grown so it has become a little distant from your customers, please get in touch and our brand team will be happy to speak to you and discuss your challenges and how we can help.

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