Our article explains how a consistent “tone of voice” can help a company create a unique and recognizable brand identity.
We'll discuss how to define your target audience and adjust your tone of voice to attract them.
We've covered the importance of consistent tone across all marketing materials, including website copy, social media posts, and customer communications.
Our article proposes a style guide to ensure consistency in language, grammar, and punctuation across all materials.
Finally, we encourage you to review and update your tone of voice to ensure it aligns with your company's evolving brand identity.
What is intonation?
Tone of Voice is how a brand communicates and connects with its audience through messaging and customer interactions.
It helps companies stand out from the competition and communicate their brand values to the outside world.
Old Spice, for example, is known for its humorous tone.
Her absurd and memorable ads set her apart from others in the personal care industry:
The tone of voice includes the words and images you choose (and the order in which you place them) in all content formats. Including emails, landing pages, ads, social media posts, blog posts and more.
At the end of this article, you will learn how to:
- Identify your brand values
- Find the perfect voice for your business
- See how your audience is communicating
- Create and implement a tone-of-voice guide
Ready to start?
First, let's cover some examples.
Examples of tone of voice
Nike's voice is serious and powerful. They have run many campaigns over the years to encourage athletes to do their best.
Here is an example of it.Craziest Dreams campaign.:
Many brands also show a more playful side, like Dunkin' Inthis post on Instagram:
Old Spice, Nike and Dunkin' show how the tone of voice can vary dramatically from brand to brand.
Why is the tone of voice important?
The words and images you use shape how your customers see your brand.
Which is crucial because88% of respondentssaid in a recent survey that it's important to buy from brands you trust.
Think about creating a personality for your brand: how do you want your brand to “speak” to others? What message should be conveyed?
Setting a specific tone of voice will help you:
- cutting competition
- Build your brand (and authority).
- Emulate face-to-face communication
cut through the competition
Many brands fall into the trap of adopting a tone of voice that someone in their industry “should” use. However, your goal should be to stand out so customers remember you.
Take the BlenderBottle for example. They avoid the typical hyper-masculine tone of protein powders and fitness brands:
Build your brand (and authority).
Here, let's look at Duolingo as an example. They took TikTok by storm, gaining more than four million followers and becoming an ongoing meme on the site.
His videos always feature "Duo", the green owl who is often spotted running around the office, feeling sorry for his crush (Dua Lipa) and following the latest TikTok trends:
Duolingo took a risk by being completely disrespectful and silly with this app, but it was clearly worth it. They now have a massive organic presence on users' For You pages and have become a familiar figure to many on TikTok.
Emulate face-to-face communication
Today, customers often contact brands through social media or online chats instead of calling a customer service number.
You can also use this time to reinforce your tone of voice.
Many brands go one step further and proactively respond to complaints mentioning their brand on social media.
Here's an example of how Spotify does this on Twitter:
Spotify es “really protective tone of voice.” Each member of the social media team undergoes rigorous writing checks, and the brand has dedicated Twitter accounts dedicated to customer service.
Brand Voice vs Tone of Voice: What's the Difference?
Brand Voice represents your brand's unique perspective and the values it represents. In other words, this is the overall personality of your brand.
Your tone of voice relates to how your brand communicates with your audience, which can include word choice, communication style, and emotional tone.
This means your tone of voice can change slightly depending on what works best for the situation.
Let's use Volvo to demonstrate the difference. From thembrand voiceit's about security that explaindon't give them:
From themvote tomCommunicate the importance of security by making it a focal point in most of your marketing materials.
Specific seat belts aren't always a big selling point for vehicles, but Volvo makes it a central point in its advertising:
Volvo does a good job of emphasizing its core values and putting the customer and their safety first. Of course, they have a defined mission statement and communicate this externally (more on this below).
How to find your brand's tone of voice
Now that you understand what a tone of voice is and why it's important to businesses, let's show you how to find yours.
Step 1: Define your core values
To define your core values, reflect on what makes your company unique and what your brand stands for.
Let's look at an exampleExplanation of Zappos Core Values. Not only do they list their ten core values, but they also explain what they stand for and why they chose them.
This makes it easy for employees and customers to know what to expect when interacting with Zappos.
To start defining your core values, you need to do two things:
- Create a mission statement
- Establish a brand message architecture
To see how:
Create a mission statement
Write a concise brand mission statement that shows your users who you are, what matters to you, and what your brand is doing to achieve their goals.
Strong mission statements answer these questions:
- What are the goals of your company?
- How do you want to achieve your goals?
- Who is your target audience?
- What do you want your company to be known for?
Write down your answers to these questions and work with stakeholders to create a mission statement based on the findings.
Here is oneMicrosoft mission statement:: “Our mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more”.
Grounds & Hounds, an online coffee shop, has its own siteyour mission statement:
Grounds & Hounds' mission statement demonstrates that the company is driven by purpose. TOZeno study groupshows that customers are four to six times more likely to support and buy from companies with a purpose.
Once you have a mission statement, you can share it on your website, with your audience, and with your employees.
Establish a message architecture
Brand message architecturealigns all your brand communications and brand values across all your content creators.
A message architecture is a set of communication goals (usually a list of terms, phrases, and statements).
For example, your message architecture might include goals like “friendly and entertaining” or “professional and authoritative.”
Here is an exampleoptimalReunited through Facebook:
To create your own news architecture, compile a list of up to 50-100 adjectives that describe your industry and arrange them into three groups:
- About Us
- Who do we want to be?
- who we are not
After sorting the adjectives, focus on the words in the "Who we'd like to be" category. Group the adjectives into categories and rank them by priority (like the Facebook example above).
You can expand them with sub-items and color code them as needed to make their meaning clear.
Finally, update your content strategy with your full architecture.
Step 2: Define your brand voice
Now that you've identified the "why" behind your business, you can begin to create a unique tone.
To start defining your tone of voice, create adjectives that describe your tone of voicedesired tone.
You can use the Nielsen Norman Groupfour dimensions of toneTo map where your brand falls into each category:
- funny x serious
- Formal x casual
- respectful vs. disrespectful
- Enthusiast vs practical
You can use these as well"tone words"to define how your brand should communicate:
Decide where you want your brand's voice to fall on each spectrum to determine the right intonation.
Here is an example ofthe adventurersthis is on the disrespectful side:
You can also paste your existing content into oursSEO writing assistantTo see how your current sound is displayed:
Now let's look at some examples.
Formell x Informell
Using a formal tone can help make your brand feel more authoritative, but it can also come across as impersonal.
Casual language can help create a sense of personality and friendship. On the other hand, too casual a tone in the wrong context can make you come off as inexperienced or unprofessional.
It is tweeted byPradait's formal and straight to the point. It contains no emojis and has more serious editorial photos showing the look.
It is tweeted byDolls with healthy rootsit has a more playful tone. Contains an emoji and funny pictures:
funny vs serious
When choosing between a funny tone and a serious tone, remember that a funny tone doesn't suit every business. And humor shouldn't get in the way of communicating with your audience.
YieldThe 404 page is modeled on a comic and contains a joke:
Designer-NewsHe gets more serious with his 404 page, which adds a touch of creativity but keeps the tone pretty dry:
respectful vs. disrespectful
It's good to be respectful of your audience, but don't overdo it either. It may not seem genuine if you are always flattering your users.
Using a irreverent tone, on the other hand, can make your brand appear confident and fun. But be careful not to intimidate or offend your audience.
security wingkeeps things on the respectful side. The overall design and tone isn't stuffy or serious, but it maintains its practical and direct tone.
deadly happyHowever, the homepage of is the epitome of the irreverent tone. It's funny, unexpected, and atypical for the insurance industry:
excited vs. prosaic
An enthusiastic tone can help you appear helpful and friendly. But if used at inappropriate times, it can irritate your audience.
While the prosaic language conveys a sense of honesty and simplicity. But if executed poorly, it can be viewed as indifferent or lacking in personality.
First let's see8000 loot, a brand of hemp shoes. His copy is enthusiastic, with some ironic moments in just a few lines of text:
from the clock, an eyeliner and false eyelash brand, is more practical. You thank the customer for their purchase and include helpful links in the message.
Now let's use these examples to create your brand's tone-of-voice profile.
It could look like that:
Step 3: Observe your audience
Now that you know how to define your tone of voice, let's discuss how you can customize it for your customers.
Customers expect brands to understand their needs and expectations. a great way toknow your customersis to find out which social media platforms they use and how they interact with each other.
First, find out which channels your target audience prefers.
The best way to do this is to go straight to the source, be it Reddit, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook or elsewhere.
But how do you know which websites your audience is using? Start with a Google search.
Use the "Site Search" method, which looks like this:Location: www.website.com your brand here
When you search this way, Google only shows results from sites that include you.
You can search on various websites including "OU".
So if you want to see what people are saying about Chipotle on Reddit, Facebook, and Instagram, it would look like this:
Advice: You can also use Semrushmarket researcherTool to learn more about your audience demographics.
Take the time to research your findings and take notes. What positive things are people saying? What negative things? Are there trends?
You can use this information to customize your overall tone or even plan your social content.
If your brand is new or you don't get many results this way, you can also search with your competitor's brands.
Notice how your audience communicates with each other
Now that you know where your audience is online, pay attention to how they are communicating and use their vocabulary for inspiration.
Facebook groups can be a mine of information.
To get started, go to Facebook and type your keyword into the search bar (we chose “SEO”).
Once you get the results, click "Groups" in the left navigation to show only Facebook groups.
Join relevant groups to see how members are talking about brands in your industry. This is a great place to start learning how your audience communicates.
Reflecting how your audience communicates can make your content more relatable. If done right, it canlead to an increase in sales.
Here are some questions to consider when analyzing your customers' voices on social media:
- Do they speak in full sentences or more informally?
- Do they contain emoji?
- What kind of slang do they use?
- Do you speak directly to the brands?
- What generation are you?
- What do you like?
- what you don't like
It's also a good idea to answer the same questions about your competitor's audiences. Learn from your past successes and failures to determine what might work for your audience.
Here's an example of howChipotleSuccessfully mirrors the tone on TikTok with a casual offbeat Gen Z tone:
And another example ofWendysSin Instagram:
Keep in mind that this is not a "one time" step. Social media trends and jargon are constantly evolving.
Spend some time each month researching social media as you plan your social media posts.
And of course, constantly interact with your followers. This is for research and building a voice for your brand. A win-win situation.
Step 4: Create and implement tone-of-voice policies
To successfully implement your tone of voice, start by establishing clear brand guidelines. Check them out from time to time, especially if your audience changes.
Start writing your policies in the branding language you define; This creates a perfect example of correct usage.if you write.
Add right and wrong examples of your tone of voice to show your team members what to do and what to avoid.
Your internal policies should include:
- A portrait of your audience and your voice
- Your brand's attitude towards its audience (i.e. how formal or informal it should be)
- Your brand's core values
- your mission statement
- The architecture of your message
- to use vocabulary
- to avoid vocabulary
- grammatical rules
After creating the first version of your style guide, share it with your company.
Create your own tone-of-voice guidelines
Your tone of voice is how you connect and interact with your audience. The best way to do this is to align it with your brand's values and mission, as well as the voice of your audience.
Once you have an idea of what you want it to look like, match your tone of voice to the content format you're using to communicate.
If not already doneCreate your own tone of voice guidelines with our free template.
Don't be afraid to be creative - the goal is to stand out from the competition. And by maintaining a unique and consistent tone of voice, your brand can gain authority (and popularity) in your niche.
Brand tone of voice is the mood or emotion you convey in messages to your audience through specific word choice and writing style. Essentially, it's how you express your brand voice. Studies on consumer behavior revealed why some brands stood out more than others.How do you write brand tone of voice guidelines? ›
- Introduce your brand's tone of voice and tonal values, explaining what they stand for and how they support your brand and company mission.
- Give detailed, practical support to the people creating content for different channels.
Tone is an author's attitude toward his or her audience and characters. It is an integral part of an author's style. Like the tone of a speaker's voice, the tone of an author's words expresses the writer's feelings.How do you describe tone and style? ›
Tone is the expression of the author's attitude. Style refers to the individual traits or characteristics of a piece of writing. The style in which a story is written is one of the clearest indications of the tone of a story.What are the 3 types of tones? ›
Types of Tone in Writing
but here are the basic ones: Formal. Informal. Optimistic.
Your brand tone is the attitude with which you convey your values and beliefs; it's the way you speak. Your brand personality is your brand's traits and characteristics. Your tone and personality help to reinforce your messaging and the language you use by creating a more distinct and defined voice.What is an example of tone? ›
It can be joyful, serious, humorous, sad, threatening, formal, informal, pessimistic, or optimistic.What are the 4 types of tone? ›
The tone of any piece of content can be analyzed along 4 dimensions: humor, formality, respectfulness, and enthusiasm.What are different types of tones? ›
- 1 Formal.
- 2 Informal.
- 3 Optimistic.
- 4 Worried.
- 5 Friendly.
- 6 Curious.
- 7 Assertive.
- 8 Encouraging.
- We back our customers.
- We make it great.
- We do what's right.
- We respect people.
- We embrace diversity.
- We stand for inclusion.
- We win as a team.
- We support our communities.
- Do speak and write naturally. ...
- Don't be defensive. ...
- Don't be anonymous. ...
- Don't mangle the grammar. ...
- Don't use platitudes.
Competence: brands that fall into this personality type are intelligent and reliable. Think Volvo or Microsoft. Sophistication: these brands, like Chanel or Apple, are often upper-class, glamorous, and charming. Ruggedness: rugged brands like Harley-Davidson and Land Rover tend to be outdoorsy and tough.What are 5 words that describe tone? ›
|Acerbic||sharp; forthright; biting; hurtful; abrasive; severe|
|Admiring||approving; think highly of; respectful; praising|
|Aggressive||hostile; determined; forceful; argumentative|
|Aggrieved||indignant; annoyed; offended; disgruntled|
To infer the tone of a piece of literature, we will need to recognize and explain how the author uses each of the following elements: diction, imagery, details, language, and syntax. These elements are known, for short, as DIDLS. Diction refers to the author's choice of words and phrases.What is an example of tone in a sentence? ›
Examples from Collins dictionaries
Suddenly he laughed again, this time with a cold, sharp tone. Her tone implied that her patience was limited. The spokesperson said the tone of the letter was very friendly. His comments to reporters were conciliatory in tone.
Tone often describes the writing overall, but the mood of a piece of writing can change throughout it. For example, at the death of a character the mood could be depressed or sad, but at the discovery of a long lost friend, the mood could be upbeat and joyful.What are the 5 elements of tone? ›
- Word Length. If you want all readers to understand you clearly, it's best to use short words. ...
- Sentence Length. Shorter sentences give a concise style, while longer ones are more rambling. ...
- Tempo. ...
- Pronouns. ...
- Conciseness. ...
- Clarity. ...
- Jargon and Obscure Words. ...
- Buzzwords and Clichés.
We use adjectives to describe our tone. Does it sound resonant, squeaky, round, big, small, wavy, smooth, mellow, ridged, stressed, relaxed, calming, happy, sad, angry, loving, warm, cold, soothing, rich, vibrant, dynamic, light, heavy, bright, dark…etc.How many different tones are there? ›
Generally, there are three categories of tones in writing: positive, negative, and neutral. Within these categories are varying intensities of emotion that writers may want to evoke.What makes a good brand voice? ›
Your brand voice should build that trusting relationship, showing your customers what to expect from your company's content, services, and even customer service. Plus, the right approach can help attract new prospects before they even learn about your product or services.
In music, timbre (/ˈtæmbər, ˈtɪm-/ TAM-bər, TIM-), also known as tone color or tone quality (from psychoacoustics), is the perceived sound quality of a musical note, sound or tone. Timbre distinguishes different types of sound production, such as choir voices and musical instruments.Why do brands need tone of voice? ›
Through a set brand voice and tone, your audience can get to know and understand your brand, as you create a dialogue. It is the chance for business leaders to express their brands' unique persona and seamlessly build up relationships with the audience.What is tone in simple words? ›
The word tone often refers to sound, as in music, or the feeling conveyed by the way someone speaks: "His tone of voice told me I was in trouble." It can also be used to describe the atmosphere of a place — its flavor or spirit — or the shades of meaning in a work that might reveal the larger intentions of an author.What are the two types of tone? ›
Here are ten basic types of tone like It can be serious, humorous, sad, Tense, threatening, formal, Cooperative, informal, pessimistic, or optimistic. Your tone in writing will be reflective of your mood as you are writing.What are the three characteristics of tone? ›
A musical tone is characterized by its duration, pitch, intensity (or loudness), and timbre (or quality).What are the three elements of tone? ›
Tone has three elements that should be considered. Number one, the purpose of the message, and number two, the audience of the message, and number three, the words used to convey the tone.What are the three 3 tones of voice? ›
You can mix the following types of tones in your communication to make it more vibrant, impactful, and result-oriented: Formal tone. Informal tone. Factual tone.How do you define your brand values? ›
Brand values are the key principles guiding how a company operates—including where it sources its products, how items are delivered to customers, and the way employees are treated. Brand values define precisely how a company operates, achieves its mission statement, and earns money.What is your personal brand value? ›
A personal brand value proposition is a concise statement that demonstrates how your services solve a potential customer's problem, fulfills a need, or improves his life. It tells a prospect why he should work with you and enlist your services, and what makes you different from your competition.What is brand value simple words? ›
Brand value is based on the financial amount the brand is worth as stated on a balance sheet. Brand equity is the perception of consumers and how they feel about the brand. A business needs brand equity to raise brand value. The more visibility your brand has, the higher the value.
In general, having a neutral pitch, with your voice not sounding too high or low, is a good strategy when it comes to tonality in sales. Use moments of high pitch to express excitement and friendliness. Try moments of low pitch to convey a sense of authority and expertise.What are the 5 traits of brand personality? ›
There are five main types of brand personalities with common traits. They are excitement, sincerity, ruggedness, competence, and sophistication. Customers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality is similar to their own.What are the 5 A's of personal branding? ›
The 5 A's of personal branding include Authority, then Authenticity, Aspiration, Artisanat and Affinity.How do I give my brand personality? ›
- Understand Your Identity And Beliefs. ...
- Give Back To Society. ...
- Show Off Your Team. ...
- Use Storytelling. ...
- Be Consistent.
Different Tones of Voice
- Fun tone.
- Authoritative tone.
- Edgy tone.
- Optimistic tone.
- Intelligent tone.
- Bold tone.
- Approachable tone.
- Professional tone.
The tone in a story indicates a particular feeling. It can be joyful, serious, humorous, sad, threatening, formal, informal, pessimistic, or optimistic. Your tone in writing will be reflective of your mood as you are writing.What is Nike's tone? ›
Nike's voice is positive, friendly, and motivating, which resonates with its target audience—sports and fitness enthusiasts. Take, for example, the company's world-famous “just do it” tagline. The tone is inspiring and motivating (as expected) without being wordy or elaborate.What are the 4 brand categories? ›
What Are 4 Types of Brands? There are numerous types of brands, but the four most common ones include corporate brands, personal brands, product brands, and service brands.Why is brand tone important? ›
A good brand tone makes communicating with consumers more authentic and helps you stand out from competitors. For example REI, an outdoor sporting goods company, will speak to its targeted audience in a way that appeals to their lifestyle and tie it back to the products they're selling.What are 5 examples of tone? ›
- Abashed. ashamed or embarrassed; also, disconcerted.
- Abhorring. to regard with extreme aversion; to loathe, or detest.
- Abstruse. difficult to understand.
- Absurd. ridiculous; silly.
- Accusatory. a tone of accusation; to accuse of a crime or offense.
- Acerbic. tone of harshness or severity.
- Acrimonious. ...
1. Positive and inspiring – Nike. A positive, friendly, inspiring, motivating, and leadership tone is the choice of Nike, as well as the millions of customers of this brand who share its values.What is an example of tone of voice in branding? ›
Coca-Cola has a brand voice that focuses on positivity and friendliness. Their marketing and messaging are full of examples of happy lives made better with a drink of Coke, which over time has helped to build a strong connection between the product and good times.What is Apple brand tone? ›
Apple's brand voice consistently conveys the premium quality of its brand without weighing down its marketing messaging with the discussion of features. The company's brand tone is upbeat, conversational, and confident—it's powerful, yet playful.What is tone of message examples? ›
The second key element of communicating a message is the tone, or author's attitude towards the reader of the message. Examples of tone include: confident, arrogant, racist, humorous, emotional, intimate, condescending and serious.What is a positive tone of voice? ›
It's not just about being nice—positive tone is clearer and helps us get things done because its phrasing is simpler and it uses fewer words. By phrasing messages positively, you encourage people to buy into your ideas and establish good relationships for the future. Positive tone is a credibility builder.