As a tone of voice copywriter, I’m always on the lookout for brands who are really nailing their brand tone of voice across their marketing materials, from social media, to billboard advertising, from the back of their product packaging, to the copy that fills their web pages.
These brands are a great example of why tone of voice copywriting is so important for your business (more of that later), and how it can be applied to different types of copy, presenting a united front that helps you build trust with your target audience.
I also can’t help noticing when brands craft a tone of voice that really doesn’t work for what their selling, fails to align with their values, or is totally tone deaf, and falls flat with their customers (but that’s a whole other blog post, and perhaps one I’ll write at a later date…)
So what is brand tone of voice copywriting, and why is it vital that you nail the right tone of voice to represent your brand?
What is brand tone of voice copywriting?
Tone of voice copywriting is a term used to describe how your brand communicates with its target audience, while reflecting its unique personality, and core values. Tone of voice copywriting can cover anything from the level of formality, or informality, to use of humour, and language choices. It also often involves the creation of a ‘persona’, to help a brand understand ‘who’ is doing the talking, and therefore ‘what’ they would say (my favourite brand persona, so far, has been a cross between Katharine Hepburn, and Prince Philip – don’t snigger, it totally nailed the brand).
A great tone of voice, used consistently, strengthens a brand message, building trust with the audience. A distinct tone of voice also goes a long way to define a brands personality, helping people decide whether to do business with them. If you identify with the way a brand represents itself, you’re likely to become a customer, and a loyal one at that – in the way that we like a person, based on the way that they speak to us. But if you’re alienated by a brand’s voice, you’re likely to be turned off from buying their products, or using their services – in the same way that we’d dislike a person who patronised us, or dropped the ‘f-bomb’ at our granny’s funeral. The idea is to speak to the right audience, in language they can understand, and feel included in.
What does a tone of voice copywriter do?
As a tone of voice copywriter, I help brands identify what makes them unique, and special. I then filter this liquid gold into their copy, whether they’re posting on social media, putting together a catalogue, or writing text for their website, so that they can share themselves with their audience.
I often use the information I’ve gathered to produce a detailed tone of voice guide too, to help the brand, and anyone who writes for them in the future, use a consistent and distinct tone of voice that’s been well thought out and is purposeful, rather than incidental. Nailing a tone of voice, and using that tone of voice consistently, is an exercise in quality control when it comes to writing copy. A tone of voice guide sets the bar, and helps anyone writing for the brand meet the right standards. It’s not a pass fail exercise, however, it’s a helpful way of ensuring that your brand always sounds like you, and sounds the same. Authentic, and trustworthy. That’s what we’re striving for.
A tone of voice copywriter like me can also help a brand think about what they’re offering, and how best to communicate this to their target audience. Often, business owners become tongue tied, and lack confidence when attempting to write about themselves, producing copy that lacks clarity, or personality. It’s my role, as a tone of voice copywriter, to help them find the right words, and express them in the right way, so that their customers fully understand their offer, and they grow confidence when it comes to articulating it.
Why is consistency important with tone of voice?
As a tone of voice copywriter, I also help my tone of voice copywriting clients be consistent, by applying an agreed tone of voice to all of their marketing materials. It’s no good spending lots of time, and money, putting together a fabulous tone of voice, if this isn’t documented, and applied to every conversation – from a single tweet, to a full website.
Your brand needs to sound like you all the time, across every marketing channel. Only then will your audience begin to recognise your voice, and build trust with your brand. Imagine if one of you favourite brands, such as Innocent, or M&S, suddenly started using a different tone of voice for every interaction, or your bank began inserting expletives into their social media posts. This would create disharmony with the brand’s audience, and would disrupt any momentum that had been gathered. A brand voice, when applied over time, can make your business instantly recognisable, so customers can leap right into what’s on offer, rather then figuring out whether you’re a good fit.
Which brands have a great tone of voice?
Tone of voice is subjective. What works for one brand’s tone of voice, will not work for another’s, and a brand voice that alienates one type of customer, will attract another. The important thing is to pay some attention to the right tone of voice for your customer base, and to apply this to your copy with confidence. There’s no right or wrong way to do tone of voice, that’s why a tone of voice copywriter’s job is fun, and packed with endless possibility. Humorous, or serious. Quirky, or corporate. Anarchic, or traditional. Motivational, bubbly, and fun-packed, or sombre, and respectful. Your tone of voice is yours, and yours alone, to play around with, and polish, until it becomes an integral part of your brand, woven into every word.
Here’s a list of brands that, as a tone of voice copywriter, are getting it right when it comes to addressing their audiences.
Just like the brand’s name, Innocent Smoothies have a brand tone of voice that’s sweet, simple, and quirky without being bats**t crazy. I’ve yet to see a list of brands that nail a distinct tone of voice that doesn’t feature Innocent. They get it right, and they apply it consistently, whether they’re replying to a tweet, or popping a snippet of copy on the base of a product pack. I’d summarise the brand’s tone of voice as cheeky, without ever being offensive, purposefully naive and childlike, and delightfully funny, without cracking obvious ‘gags’. The brand rarely use their tone of voice to sell directly, and never to strong arm customers. Instead, they remain honest, and authentic, giving their take on trends, and events, in their own inimitable style. It’s a simple, and accessible brand tone of voice that appeals to a wide audience, and would never shock, disturb, or alienate. What’s not to love about this cute, but clever brand voice? And the key is always in the consistency. You always know who’s doing the talking, with every interaction.
Uber’s premise is a simple one. Need a car? We’ll send one to your door, in minutes. And their copy has been crafted along the same lines, with a brand tone of voice that’s simple, but bold, applied consistently, with the intention of helping their customers understand their meaning. Uber always uses simple vocabulary so their audience isn’t baffled by jargon, or blinded by science. They also don’t mince their words, with direct copy that gets to the heart of what they need to convey as quickly as possible. A tone of voice doesn’t have to be complicated, or complex, to be successful. Your brand, like Uber, may simply strive to be clearly understood by as many people as possible, using language efficiently to get the job done.
Reading Mailchimp’s copy is like chatting with a good mate, and that’s no accident. The brand have crafted a friendly, informal, conspiratorial tone of voice that’s super inclusive. The language used is clear, and direct, so the meaning is never hard to find. But the brand have also injected a healthy dose of fun, and humour, into their tone of voice, and it’s applied to every headline, every error message, and every email. This not only engages their audience, but makes that engagement a pleasure, so they’ll come back for more. Like all of the other brands on this list, Mailchimp really convey their personality within their tone of voice, helping us to imagine what it would be like to deal with them if we needed support. Their brand voice is warm, friendly, and no nonsense, and we imagine that their service would be the same, trusting them like a friend, rather than viewing them as a faceless business.
This beauty and self-care brand is well known for crafting uplifting copy with a powerful tone of voice that’s inclusive, positive, and encourages customers to embrace their inner beauty. Dove uses its tone of voice skilfully to emphasise its brand values – body positivity, female empowerment, and self love – with sympathetic, motivational, and often moving copy that feels like a warm hug. Never spiky, or confrontational, the brand uses language to embrace their reader, not create controversy.
How can I create a unique tone of voice for my brand?
Hop on a call with a tone of voice copywriter like me, of course!
In all seriousness, unless you’re a tone of voice expert, it’s always best to get some professional advice when it comes to devising, and using, the right brand voice for your business. Investing in a tone of voice guide, from the beginning, will help you put your best foot forward when it comes to communication. Adopting a hit and miss approach, where copy isn’t consistent, will always result in missed opportunities to build trust with the right audience, and to develop a strong brand persona that sets you apart from the competition.
As a tone of voice copywriter, I can build a package that’s right for your business. This might mean a comprehensive tone of voice guide, a brand persona, and the application of this tone of voice to your website, and other marketing channels. Or it might mean some simple advice on tweaking an existing tone of voice, or crafting a simple brand voice, that you can apply to your own copy. Every brand needs a different level of support, but successful brands have one thing in common. They all understand the importance of tone of voice when it comes to standing out in a crowded market place, and crafting communications that customers look forward to interacting with.
If you’d like to discuss achieving a strong tone of voice for you brand, get in touch, and let’s start a conversation of our own.