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’:


  • 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

Why skyscrapers are OK in Manhattan but not downtown Mountain View, Ca.

At 10,000 ft, an area’s ‘narrative’ is clear: they kind of place it is, what it believes in, what it doesn’t allow

At 1,000 ft, the personality of the narrative flexes to suit the different uses in each area or neighbourhood

At Ground Level, choices about details are consistent with the personality and the area’s overarching narrative


A modern, flexible, engaging brand voice needs to be defined on 3 levels

At 10,000 ft, define your world, what you believe in, what you don’t allow

At 1,000 ft, define your personality so that it suits the overarching narrative and can respond to different uses

At Ground Level, define the words and phrases you do/don’t use, to make sure you reinforce the personality and the narrative


Language shapes thinking. Shape your language and you shape your customers’ thinking:


  • Define your brand voice comprehensively on all 3 levels

  • Train your writers

  • Test and iterate


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

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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