How to find your brand’s unique tone of voice

28 March 2024
8 minutes


Whether it’s Apple, Tesla, Disney or Louis Vuitton, some brands simply have the power to capture their audience’s attention. What do these leading brands have in common? Each brings a unique, distinctive tone of voice to their communications.

No matter which industry you’re working in, your brand will always benefit from having a strong, consistent tone of voice. In this article, we’ll show you how to find your brand’s unique voice so you can captivate your audiences and enhance brand loyalty like the world’s most recognised brands do.

Your brand will always benefit from having a strong and consistent tone of voice.

What is tone of voice in branding and marketing? Why is it important?

In branding and marketing, a tone of voice is the signature style in which a company communicates. It’s the combination of vocabulary, style and tone that makes up your brand’s personality, whether it’s ‘laidback and quirky’, ‘professional yet fun’ or ‘philosophical and visionary’, just to name a few possibilities.

Every piece of content your company releases already has a tone of voice, whether you are conscious of it or not. The key is to carefully decide on an authentic, appropriate tone of voice that resonates with your audience. And to use it consistently, so your brand’s communications are distinctive and clearly recognisable.

Tone of voice is important because it makes your brand relatable to your audience. In today’s crowded markets, your brand has a strong advantage if people instantly recognize it. The right tone of voice promotes brand recognition, which helps your brand stand out from the crowd.

Benefits of giving your brand a unique tone of voice

If you haven’t yet defined a clear tone of voice for your brand’s communications, now is a great time to start. Here are just a few of the key benefits you can expect:

  • Enhanced brand awareness: In crowded markets like B2B services and SaaS, lots of brands sound more-less identical to their competitors. A more unique tone of voice is more likely to capture your audience’s attention and raise brand awareness. That’s a major advantage for B2B content marketers, since 84% of them say growing brand awareness has been one of their key goals over the last 12 months.
  • Positive brand perception: A clear, consistent tone of voice makes your brand seem more coherent and professional. It gives your communications something special, which shows your audiences that you are putting thought and effort into how you present yourself. This creates a positive buzz around your brand, which again helps you stand out from brands that communicate with a chaotic, disorganised tone of voice.
  • Increased brand recognition: Similar to brand awareness, your brand recognition also benefits from a distinctive tone of voice. When you stick to a signature style of communicating, it shows what is unique about your brand. This makes your communications more memorable and recognisable to your audiences.
  • Stronger customer relations: People are more likely to engage and return to things that seem familiar to them. Creating a distinctive tone of voice makes your audience feel comfortable with your brand – as if they’re spending time with someone they know and trust.
  • Easier collaboration within your teams: A key practical advantage of having a clearly defined tone of voice is that it ensures all your branding and marketing team members (both in-house and outsourced) are always on the same page. Everyone follows the same consistent style when creating content, which contributes to the professionalism and recognisability of your content.

Contentoo's free Tone of Voice Scan

Need help identifying the ideal tone of voice for your brand and audiences? Contentoo’s free Tone of Voice scan analyses your content and provides you with a full report.

The report identifies your current tone of voice and provides useful suggestions on how to improve consistency and boost your content’s performance.

Try Contentoo’s free Tone of Voice analysis today.

How to define your brand's tone of voice

Now that you know what a tone of voice is and why it’s important, let’s start defining your brand’s tone of voice. To start, we’ll explain the 5 key elements of an effective brand tone of voice.

5 elements of an effective tone of voice

  1. Authenticity: An effective tone of voice must be genuine and true to your brand’s core values. Authenticity creates trust, turns people into loyal customers, and increases your brand’s overall appeal.
  2. Consistency: Consistency is essential for brand recognition. Using the same tone across all channels reinforces your message and makes it easier for customers to identify content associated uniquely with your business.
  3. Clarity: Your tone of voice should be clear and easy to define. A convoluted tone causes confusion and distracts from the meaning of your message.
  4. Resonance: A strong tone of voice connects emotionally with your audience. That means it has to resonate with their feelings and experiences.
  5. Versatility: Although it’s consistent, your tone of voice must also be flexible enough to adapt to different types of messages and channels. This means you’ll want to avoid creating a tone of voice that is too rigid.

5 steps to defining your brand's tone of voice

Next, we’ll go through the 5 steps to defining your brand’s tone of voice. Whether you’re developing a tone of voice for your brand for the first time, or trying to improve and sharpen your existing tone, this step-by-step guide will help you along the way.

  1. Establish your brand’s values and identity: Knowing your brand’s values is always the first step to defining the right tone of voice. Many brands work with external consultants to clearly define their values. This gives them a stronger sense of purpose, which helps guide all their activities, strategies and communications.
  2. Identify your target audience: Who are you trying to reach with your brand’s voice? Have you developed buyer personas for your target groups? Gaining a crystal-clear understanding of your target audience also helps you decide which style of communication is likely to resonate with them. For example, if you are targeting a highly tech-savvy audience, you can use a more academic, technical tone, but also incorporate some online humour to balance things out.
  3. Adapt your tone to each communications channel: Most brands today follow a multi-channel content marketing strategy. When crafting your tone of voice, be sure to consider how well it will work in each channel you use. If necessary, modify the tone for each channel. For example, you may use a more humorous, playful tone in blog and social media posts, but a more academic tone for white papers.
  4. Create a tone of voice guide: Document your tone of voice in a clear handbook. Be sure to write down all the rules for how to use your tone of voice in all your different channels, and for all personas. It’s helpful to include a list of do’s and don’ts to ensure all your content creators understand exactly how to use your brand’s tone of voice properly.
  5. Monitor performance & continually optimise: Once you’ve decided on your tone of voice, be sure to also apply it to your existing content. This will ensure consistency across all assets. Monitor how your tone-of-voice update affects your content’s KPIs. If you’re seeing negative impacts on key metrics like social engagement, CTR or conversion, continue to adjust and fine-tune your tone of voice until you’re on the right track.
Content tip: Once you've decided on the right tone of voice, perform a content refresh to ensure your existing content is updated and consistent with new content.

How to maintain a consistent brand tone of voice

Maintaining consistency in your branding tone of voice is critical for a streamlined brand identity. It ensures that all your content aligns with your company image. It also reinforces brand recognition and leads to more meaningful relationships with your target audiences.

To keep your brand’s tone of voice consistent:

  • Create a detailed tone of voice guide: Include real-life examples of do’s and don’ts. It also helps to create a glossary or list of approved terms and forbidden terms.
  • Refresh existing content: Once you’ve decided on the right tone, perform a content refresh to ensure your existing content is updated and consistent with new content.
  • Onboard all content creators to your tone of voice: Whether working with in-house content creators or freelance talent, be sure to get off on the right foot by onboarding them to your brand’s tone of voice.

How to ensure your tone of voice is authentic

Since authenticity is one of the main factors behind any effective tone of voice, let’s look at how to create a tone of voice that genuinely captures your brand’s personality:

  • Get everyone involved: Bring all departments and company leadership together to define your brand’s values. Again, it’s usually a good idea to bring in a branding consultant for help with this. By collecting input from a broad cross section of your organisation, you’re more likely to get to the essence of what makes your brand unique.
  • Listen to how your customers talk: Besides your brand’s values, your customers should play a leading role in shaping your tone of voice. After all, you want for your tone to resonate with them. Analyse how your existing and target customers communicate. Talk to your sales and customer support teams to get a detailed understanding of what’s on your customers’ minds and which vocabulary they use.
  • Write like you talk: Most content marketing today focuses on down-to-earth, easy-to-understand language. Consider using a tone of voice that feels friendly, approachable and never intimidating.
  • Find the balance between consistency and adaptability: While consistency is key, your tone also needs to be flexible enough to adapt to different channels and types of messaging. If you use a voice that is strictly technical, then it will seem out of character when you want to send a lighthearted message (for example, a holiday greeting on your social media channels). Strike the right balance to give your brand a nuanced, realistic personality.

Brand tone of voice examples

When choosing your brand’s tone of voice, you’ve got plenty of options. Depending on your brand’s values, your audience’s preferences and your content marketing strategy, consider the pros and cons of each of the following tone-of-voice options and see which one (or combination) works best for you:

Straightforward tone

This type of tone uses clear language that gets straight down to business. It maintains a neutral level of emotion and focuses mostly on added value from a business perspective.

Pros: Easy to understand, low risk of alienating audiences with overly emotional messaging.

Cons: May seem too ‘cold’ or humourless.

Friendly tone

As the name suggests, a friendly tone makes your content sound like it’s written by a friend. It often uses colloquial language and exudes warmth, making readers feel comfortable and welcomed. This is the preferred tone for many B2C and B2B tech startups.

Pros: Makes your brand seem likeable and approachable.

Cons: If you overdo it, it might sound fake or unprofessional.

Optimistic/visionary tone

The optimistic tone aims to inspire hope and positivity in its audience. The words used lean toward being motivational and encouraging progress or development. An example is Tesla’s mission statement: “To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.”

Pros: Gives your brand a visionary, future-focused vibe.

Cons: Might make your content seem like hype unless you back it up with real added value.

Entertaining tone

Brands aiming for an entertaining tone inject humour, wit, or peculiarity into their messages to keep audiences entertained while also promoting their products or services. Old Spice epitomises this tone with ironic catchphrases like: “Smell like a man, man.”

Pros: Increases your chances of going viral.

Cons: Takes a lot of creativity and talent (as well as budget) to succeed.

Playful tone

If you’re trying to evoke joy and fun through your communication style, then a playful tone might just fit the bill! Sprinkled liberally with light-hearted humour or excitement, this type pulls in audiences effortlessly.

Pros: Makes your brand seem quirky and lighthearted, which may help you stand out from the crowd.

Cons: May come across as unserious. It can also be hard to maintain a playful tone in all communications, as come content simply needs to be more straightforward.

Technical tone

Tech and SaaS brands, as well as many B2B brands frequently adopt technical tones that rely on industry-specific knowledge. Their content is meant for niche expertise audiences such as engineers or IT professionals.

Pros: Makes your brand sound like an insider/thought leader.

Cons: May be alienating to some of your important audiences. It’s important to adapt your content to each persona’s level of technical expertise.

Formal tone

Often stereotyped as ‘stiff’ or ‘boring,’ the formal tone is characterised by precise syntax following standard language rules. It’s commonly used by law firms, B2B services or financial institutions. Think, for example, of the bank BNP Paribas, with their slogan, “The bank for a changing world.

Pros: Makes your brand seem serious and professional.

Cons: May feel impersonal; could make it harder to stand out from competitors.

Informal tone

An informal tone combines friendly, humorous language with down-to-earth messaging that everyone can understand. Subway’s slogan is a great example:“Eat fresh!

Pros: Resonates with a broad audience.

Cons: May not be appropriate for every sector or market. It’s important to adjust formality to cultural norms too, which is why content localisation is so vital.

Contentoo's free Tone of Voice Scan

Need help identifying the ideal tone of voice for your brand and audiences?

Contentoo’s free Tone of Voice scan analyses your content and provides you with a full report. The report identifies your current tone of voice and provides useful suggestions on how to improve consistency and boost your content’s performance.

Try Contentoo’s free Tone of Voice Scan today.

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