Why have a brand tone of voice? 10 quick questions, answered

Why have a brand tone of voice?

When a client asks us this, the background is usually that the brand already has great writers in social media, blogs, e-comm, online and ads.

And when the CMO looks around, all the other great brands seem to effortlessly win customers, build loyalty and outperform their competitors.

They look great and their language is ‘okay’.

So, why bother defining the brand’s tone of voice?

The truth is,

apparently effortless success takes a lot of work

That hard work has gone into defining how the brand appears in all of its touchpoints, early on.

That set of guidelines for the visual appearance is the ‘visual identity’.

A great brand’s visual identity guidelines will run to 50 pages, detailing colour palette, photography and illustration rules, font usage and much more.

Surely the visuals do all the work in making a brand stand out?

Well, here at Verbal Identity, we don’t disagree with that.

But we have an expression for the role of visual elements and verbal elements in the success of a brand:

“Visuals attract, verbals engage.”

You can win customers’ attention for a fraction of a second with great visuals.

And they’ll see you as reliable if the visual identity is reliable and consistent.

But once you’ve won their attention, they want something more. A bit of reasoning, a bit of wooing. A story. Something that engages them.

That’s where having a clear brand tone of voice is important.

It also helps to win customers. And it helps to build loyalty. And it will de-position rivals.

HBR agrees:

HBR on tone of voice

So as a primer on the topic, if you want to know why a clear and consistent brand voice is important (and most of the press agrees why verbal branding is important) read on:

What is a brand tone of voice?

A brand’s tone of voice (or its ‘verbal identity’) is the impression created by the words and language used by a brand. Every brand has a tone of voice, whether it’s intended or not. Sometimes it’s jumbled or bland. Sometimes, it’s distinctive and clearly amplifies the brand’s personality. (Examples include oatly and reformation.)
A strong tone of voice helps a brand stand out (it gets noticed without the brand having to overpay on media spend), it makes it more easily understood (people can start using it sooner) and it makes it more engaging (readers listen to the whole message and come back more often).
Every brand which has a carefully constructed visual identity needs an equally

Why is a brand tone of voice important?

A brand tone of voice is important because it helps to create a consistent and recognizable brand identity, which can help to build trust and credibility with customers. It also helps to differentiate a brand from its competitors and can make messaging more memorable and effective.

How do I create a brand tone of voice?

To create a brand tone of voice, start by defining your brand’s values and personality traits. From there, consider the audience you are targeting and the language and tone that will resonate with them. Finally, create guidelines for how your brand’s tone of voice should be applied across all messaging and communication channels.
In our 15+ years’ experience of creating an effective tone of voice for different brands in B2B, B2C and B2G, then we have seen the importance of a simple, memorable framework for the brand tone of voice.

You can read more about our method on the ‘3 levels of every brand voice’ here.

How does a brand tone of voice impact SEO?

While a brand’s tone of voice may not have a direct impact on SEO rankings, it can indirectly influence user engagement metrics such as click-through rates and time spent on a page, which can in turn impact search engine rankings. Additionally, having a consistent and recognizable tone of voice can help to build brand awareness and loyalty, which can also indirectly impact SEO.

Should a brand tone of voice be different across different channels?

While a brand’s tone of voice should be consistent across all messaging and communication channels, it must be able to flex to fit the context and audience of each channel. For example, the tone used on social media may be more casual and conversational than the tone used in a formal press release.

How can I measure the effectiveness of my brand tone of voice?

Measuring the effectiveness of a brand’s tone of voice can be difficult, but some metrics to consider include engagement rates, brand awareness, and customer feedback. It’s also important to regularly review and refine your tone of voice guidelines to ensure they remain relevant and effective.

Can a brand tone of voice be too informal or casual?

Yes, a brand’s tone of voice can be too informal or casual, which can create the impression that the brand is unprofessional or lacks credibility. It’s important to strike a balance between being approachable and engaging, while still maintaining a level of professionalism and authority.

Should a brand tone of voice be consistent across different languages?

Yes, a brand’s tone of voice should be consistent across different languages to ensure a consistent and recognizable brand identity. However, some adaptations may be necessary to account for cultural differences and nuances in language use.

How often should I review and update my brand tone of voice guidelines?

It’s a good idea to review and update your brand tone of voice guidelines regularly, especially as your brand’s values and audience change over time. Aim to review and update your guidelines at least once a year, or whenever major changes occur in your brand’s messaging or identity.
Equally, if you notice your competitor change their tone of voice, it’s probably time for you to look at how your own brand’s verbal identity, or tone of voice, is performing and whether it’s due an update.

So, next time someone asks you, ‘Why have a brand tone of voice?’ we hope you’ll be able to tell that it’s the most effective way to win customers, deepen loyalty and de-position rivals.

About Verbal Identity

We are writers, strategists and linguistics experts: super-specialists in the magic and mechanics of language. We know how language creates thinking. And how – if you shape the language of your company, your comms and your customers – you shape what people think and do, read more…

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