Why your brand’s tone of voice is much, much more than just ‘tone of voice’

Give up the idea that your brand’s tone of voice is just a ‘tone of voice’:

A brand’s tone of voice can drive business results just as much as its visual identity. But in the last 10 years, the channels a brand voice needs to operate in have exploded. It’s no longer enough to have a few adjectives to define your brand’s voice. To have an effective brand tone of voice, the voice needs to do more than just create a personality:

  • It needs to be flexible enough to work in different channels

  • It needs to deliver engagement to the attention you pay for

  • It needs a more sophisticated definition than just 4 adjectives

Over the last 10 years, working with global companies, startups, b2c, b2b, luxury, tech and everything in between, we’ve developed a model that completely defines your brand’s verbal identity and tone of voice.

It does this by defining the brand voice on 3 levels. Think of it as though those levels were actual heights, and define each level in turn so that they reinforce the other levels of your brand voice.

Here’s an overview of the 3 key levels to be defined for every brand voice.

At 10,000 ft, define your brand voice’s narrative: the world you believe in, what you stand for and what you stand against.

At 1,000 ft, define your brand’s tone of voice, a unique collection of 3-4 personality traits, amplifying your brand voice’s narrative.

At Ground Level, define the words and phrases you do/don’t use, plus your grammar and jargon choices: all the things that hold your brand language together.


Language shapes thinking. Shape your brand’s tone of voice and you shape your customers’ thinking:

When you want to create an effective brand tone of voice, there are some basic principles to bear in mind:

This model is great at defining the brand voice – and great at giving writers and their managers a simple framework to focus on what’s working in the tone of voice and what isn’t.

If you’d like to hear more, book a ‘lunch and learn’ with one of our team, or just ask how it works in practice, please get in touch by emailing Chris, our CEO.

Corporate narrative, tone of voice guidelines, copywriting and writer training? Read More.

Contact Chris West: chris@verbalidentity.com

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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