The concept of “tone of voice” may ring a bell. It refers to the way a brand sounds when it communicates with its audience.
In today’s competitive market, developing a unique tone of voice can help you gain trust, express your brand values, and build a loyal following. Without a distinct voice, your brand may feel dull and struggle to get noticed among the countless options available.
In this blog post, we’ll show you how to create a compelling tone of voice for your brand and provide examples of some tones of voice to get you inspired. Keep reading to learn more.
What is the tone of voice?
The tone of voice refers to how a brand communicates with its audience. It includes the words they choose and how these words are put together (for example, in a formal or informal manner).
Your choice of tone will depend on how you would like to portray yourself and show your values to resonate with your audience.
Why is the tone of voice important?
Your words, phrases and expressions affect how your audience perceives and responds to your brand. Having a well-defined tone of voice is essential for the following reasons:
- Conveying your message effectively: When it comes to communication, the main goal is to get your point across effectively. A clear and appropriate tone ensures that your message is easily understood by the person you’re talking to. If you don’t use the right tone or don’t use it consistently, your words alone might not convey what you really mean.
- Expressing who you are: When we communicate, it’s not just about sharing facts and information. It’s about letting our emotions shine through and connecting with others on a deeper level so they can relate. When we communicate in a way that connects emotionally, it helps us connect with our audience, whether we’re talking or writing.
- Building solid relationships: A consistent and well-crafted tone of voice fosters brand identity and recognition, creating trust and familiarity between a brand and its followers. And when the brand has a personality that connects with its audience, it forges emotional connections and empathy.
3 steps to write your tone of voice guidelines
So, now that you know what a tone of voice is and why it’s a big deal for a brand, let’s dive into how you can find your unique style.
1) Define your core values
Here, you need to determine the “why” behind your company. What lies at the very heart of your brand? What propels it forward? Are there any subjects that you prefer not to talk about?
You could be a visionary, shaping the future of e-learning. Or you could be empowering and inspiring society. Or you could place passion at the heart of what you do to boost confidence in your brand.
When defining your core values, it is a good idea to
1) create a mission statement, and
2) set your communication goals
Create a mission statement
A mission statement is like a summary that tells everyone who you are, what you’re all about, and what you want to achieve. It’s the backbone of everything you do – from the conception of your innovative products to the delivery of your unparalleled services.
Here’s a mission statement from Slack: “Make work life simpler, more pleasant and more productive.” The brand uses a determined tone to show what they do.
Set your communication goals
Prioritising your communication goals will help your team know what to say. Create a list of terms, adjectives, and statements by thinking about:
- Who you are
- Who you are not
- What you want your audience to hear
- What you don´t want your audience to hear
Then, group adjectives into 3-6 categories and organise them in order of importance – as Slack does here.
2) Define your brand’s tone of voice
Next, you need to define your ‘how’, crafting your tone of voice. You can start by looking at the different dimensions of tone of voice to see where your brand falls:
- Formal vs. informal
- Funny vs. serious
- Respectful vs. irreverent
When you agree on whether your brand’s tone of voice is formal or informal, funny or serious, you can add words to define how you want your brand to communicate within that category.
Here are some insights into these dimensions that may help you fine-tune the language to make it consistent and relevant to your tone of voice.
Formal vs. informal tone of voice
A formal tome emphasises professionalism and dedication to your customers but risks sounding outdated or not accessible to everyone.
The multinational technology company IBM typically uses a formal tone of voice to align with their reputation as an established technology company serving businesses and organisations worldwide.
On the other hand, an informal tone of voice creates a sense of humour and friendliness, although forced humour can be worse than none.
Mailchimp employs informal language and a relaxed tone to connect with its target audience in a fun and approachable way. This informal approach aligns with their brand image as a user-friendly email marketing solution for enterprises and individuals.
Funny vs. serious tone of voice
A funny tone is used primarily to entertain, engage, and create an enjoyable experience for the audience. Brands that use humour typically aim to connect with a younger, more relaxed audience who appreciates entertainment and a good laugh.
Doritos has a history of running humorous and creative commercials. These advertisements have become a staple of the brand’s marketing strategy and are known for their entertaining and memorable content.
A serious tone evokes emotions like trust, credibility, and reliability. It focuses on the gravity or importance of the message. Using a serious tone usually goes better when the audience is more mature or professional.
The New York Times typically use a serious tone in their communications to maintain trust and professionalism.
Respectful vs. irreverent tone of voice
It is vital to strike a balance when addressing your audience. While it is admirable to show respect, it is equally crucial to avoid excessive flattery that may be perceived as insincere.
Purina is a good example of a respectful tone of voice: it maintains a responsible tone in its messaging, highlighting its commitment to caring for animals and enriching people’s lives.
On the contrary, adopting an irreverent tone can inject a sense of confidence and playfulness into your brand’s persona. However, make sure you do not offend your audience. Finding a middle ground can help establish an authentic connection with your users.
Dollar Shave Club is well known for its irreverent approach to marketing, often using clever and playful puns in their messaging.
3) Use good examples unique to your brand
A well-crafted tone of voice would only be complete with a selection of illustrative instances to illuminate and steer your team. Write a few content examples from your social media posts or blog posts to demonstrate what hits the mark.
Meet the new app
Swipe up to discover more
To further reinforce this message, create a few examples of poor practices that do not align with the essence and character of your brand. These instances will serve as a demonstration of what your team should avoid emulating.
We introduce you to the new app
Click to discover more about it
Then, you can also explain in simple terms what makes it great and not so great to take the guesswork out of the process. By doing so, your team can create content with confidence and precision.
Tone of voice examples to get inspired
Before you start working on your tone of voice guidelines, take a moment to explore the communication strategies employed by some big names that have succeeded in resonating deeply with their valued clientele.
Airbnb, the global online marketplace for lodging and travel experiences, has a unique and welcoming tone of voice in all its communications. Their tone of voice prioritises inclusivity and hospitality, encouraging guests to find their perfect stay and hosts to create unique, authentic experiences.
Airbnb’s language is friendly, personal, and welcoming, making travellers and hosts feel part of a global community and emphasising that anyone can belong anywhere. Phrases like “live there” and “belong anywhere” convey a sense of inclusivity and hospitality.
The company also uses storytelling to connect with its audience emotionally while reassuring hosts and guests about the platform’s security measures. It promotes the idea that travel is not just about where you go but how you experience it, fostering connections and cultural immersion.
This friendly and welcoming tone has played a significant role in positioning Airbnb as a leading platform for personalised and safe travel experiences, reaching a global revenue of 8.4 billion U.S. dollars in 2022.
Just Eat, the popular online food delivery platform, has cultivated a fun, youthful and light tone of voice, injecting a sense of playfulness and enjoyment into its digital and printed communications.
The brand appeals to its audience by being highly adaptable, tailoring its tone to different occasions and maintaining a strong customer-centric approach, emphasising its commitment to meeting individual needs.
Just Eat also emphasises the convenience and accessibility of its service. It uses simple language like “39 restaurants open now” to highlight how easily customers can order their favourite meals from various restaurants, whether you fancy Chinese, sushi or pizza.
Just Eat’s vibe is all about celebrating the joy of easy dining and the freedom to choose from a whole bunch of delicious options that are perfect for any occasion. This approach resonates with all kinds of people, making Just Eat the ultimate go-to for those who want tasty food without any hassle.
Audi, the renowned German automotive brand, has developed a distinct and recognisable tone of voice in its communications to inspire people with progressive premium mobility. Audi’s tone of voice is founded on four linguistic principles: Ahead of our time, Confident, Cultivated, and Inspiring.
Audi’s messaging expresses a commitment to quality and excellence, reflecting the brand’s reputation for producing premium and luxury vehicles.
Their language is infused with technical terminology to highlight its cutting-edge engineering and design skills. It emphasises precision, attention to detail, and craftsmanship, showcasing the meticulous care of each vehicle. Additionally, Audi conveys a sense of power and excitement, underlining its sporty and high-performance image.
Set the right tone to speak to your audience
Connecting successfully with your audience is key to fostering loyalty and engagement, while a failure to captivate may lead them to seek alternatives. “Speak” to your clients so they can relate more deeply!
If you do not have well-defined tone of voice guidelines or would like to fine-tune your voice, it is time to apply everything you have learned in this blog post. Get creative, be consistent and create your unique tone of voice.
Need a hand? At Ampere Translations, our team of copywriters and language experts is ready to help you define and illustrate your tone of voice so that you can confidently speak and write. Contact us today to find out more.