Tone of voice. We’ve all heard it — we all know we should be implementing it, but what does it really mean? And how do you go about defining yours?
Possibly one of the most commonly overlooked elements of branding, tone of voice is what brings the personality to your company messaging — what turns a brand voice into a character that your audience can recognise, trust and hopefully like.
Think about the people in your life. They all sound and act different, right? They all have their little individual quirks that make up their identity — the mannerisms and inflections that remind you of them when you notice them in others. Establishing a tone of voice is simply defining a set of distinctive communication traits that accurately depict your brand’s values, purpose, mission and character.
Of course, it’s difficult to broach any topic in the realm of copywriting nowadays without addressing the elephant in the room.
As AI becomes ever more advanced with each passing day, it’s inevitable that more and more marketers and brands are looking to software like ChatGPT for their copywriting. The issue with AI-written copy is the distinctive lack of humanity and authenticity.
A robot will never be able to replicate the nuanced characteristics unique to your specific brand and tone of voice. It’s those individual traits that are ultimately going to make your brand stand out and shine through the noise.
So… how do you go about deciding how you want your brand to sound?
First things first, there are a series of questions you need to ask yourself.
Starting off with an important one…
What are your core values?
Your core values are what drives your brand to do what it’s doing. What are your unique selling points? What does your brand aim to deliver for your customers or clients?
These are the things that define your brand, and in turn define what you stand for and how you communicate.
Moving on to an equally crucial question…
Who is your target audience?
There’s no point trying to create generic content and copy that appeals to the masses.
Trust us. Thousands of brands have tried and failed.
So, figure out who it is will actually be buying your product or service (it’s okay if it’s more than one demographic.) Defining these audiences is going to be crucial for figuring out how best to communicate your messaging — after all, you won’t see Gen Z-targeted brands like e.l.f cosmetics talking in the same manner as boomer/millennial-targeted brands like Lancome. See below for a direct comparison.
Up next… arguably the most important question you need to ask yourself.
How do you want your brand to be perceived?
Take this question very literally. Make a list of all the ways you want your audience to see your brand — don’t worry about any contradictions for the moment.
Culminating the above answers is what will allow you to compile your brand messaging personality into a concrete list of character traits. For example, will your communication style be playful or serious? Will it be thoughtful or witty? Will it be formal or casual?
Divide the above into sub-categories for a more definitive list. This is going to be your tone of voice bible — what you refer back to time and time again when writing all future copy to remind yourself of how you should be communicating your messaging.
From here, we would suggest getting together some examples of content in various formats to use as reference in the future.
And there you have it. Your definitive guide to establishing a tone of voice for your brand. It may take some experimenting, but having a concrete tone of voice guideline will transform the way you communicate with your audience, streamlining the copy process and portraying your brand how you want it to be perceived.