Brand voice is not only what you say to your audience but also how you say it. 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. Namely, 40% stated they prefer memorable content, 33% said distinct personality, and 32% prefer compelling storytelling. In all three of these findings, brand tone of voice plays a vital role.
Brand tone of voice expresses your brand persona and core values through written words used to communicate with your audience. Readers want content that speaks to them—not at them or past them. A thoughtful and consistently applied brand tone can help you speak directly to your readers. This article guides you on how to achieve this for your brand.
Examples of effective brand tone
There are many different brand tones major companies have captured successfully. Some of them are the most recognizable brands out there, and that’s because they keep their tone of voice consistent, no matter what.
Analyzing how big-name brands promote their tone of voice can be helpful in understanding the nuances of brand tone of voice.
Neutral 😐 and direct 🎯
- “Work more easily with everyone. Stay on the same page and make decisions faster by bringing all of your work communication into one place.”
- Slack’s writing is straightforward and understandable, avoiding any fluff. There’s no unnecessary wording or unique word choices to distract from the main idea—getting work done in one place. The overall neutral tone allows for a broader target audience. The neutral and direct tone also emphasizes Slack as a “no-nonsense” platform and brand that understands the need for workplace convenience.
Joyful 🙂 and friendly 🤗
- “Champions of no-hassle returns, not waiting on hold forever, social messaging, extra sauce on the side, actually having a nice day, customer service.”
- Customers visiting Zendesk’s main page are greeted by a sliding banner flashing this message. This humor is what sets Zendesk apart from other customer service agencies. It’s friendly and joyful, expressing that Zendesk understands the challenges businesses face in managing customer service. The tone creates a sense of empathy by relating to other businesses and generates a personal connection.
Encouraging 👍 and inspirational 💡
- “We all have reasons for getting fit. Discover how people around the world have changed their lives and see what moves them.”
- Fitbit is known worldwide for inspiring people to be healthier, and the quote above from their website is a strong example of how this translates to brand voice. Health and wellness is such a competitive industry that you’ll often see bold, in your face advertisements from such businesses. However, this company’s message is encouraging for people of all walks of life, and as a result, the message’s uplifting tone stands out. All-inclusive messages can inspire an audience to be a part of something that generates a sense of comfort and support.
Loving 🥰 and joyful 🙂
- “We take pride in our reputation as the airline with Heart, and that naturally extends to a passion for making a difference in our communities and protecting our resources.”
- In its annual Southwest One Report, the airline sets itself apart from its competitors by putting people, not profits, first. Southwest’s brand voice emphasizes their commitment to their employees and customers, and it permeates throughout their culture. One notable example, 175 Stories, profiled the 175 passengers and their reasons for flying on Southwest’s new Boeing 800 MAX aircraft. This clever campaign showcased the airline’s latest technology and reassured customers that they were more than just a fare to Southwest.
Confident 🤝 and assertive ☝️
- “Just do it.” “Run the day. Don’t let it run you.” “Rewrite history. Redefine the position.”
- Nike made advertising history with its 1988 “Just Do It” campaign. This set the tone for their brand to be bold, aspirational, and galvanizing. That confidence encouraged a generation of hopeful athletes to set their alarms, put on their running shoes, and work toward their dreams.
- “In a bureaucratic system where hour-long waits on phone lines are the norm, Intercom is a way for clients to connect with a human in real time.”
- In contrast to its competitor Slack, Intercom, a “conversational relationship platform,” focused on the human side of their service. In a series of case studies, they showcased Intercom’s use in a diverse range of settings—including small social service departments. This warm, empathetic approach is very different from Slack’s “just the facts, ma’am” positioning, but is no less effective for it.
- “There’s a better way to grow. Marketing, sales, and service software that helps your business grow without compromise. Because ‘good for the business’ should also mean ‘good for the customer.’”
- By leading with a declaration on their main page that their product is a “better way to grow,” Hubspot has established themselves as a hopeful, positive brand. They promise high-quality products that help businesses grow without sacrificing service or customer satisfaction.
How to select your brand’s tone of voice
Defining your target audience and your brand’s core values will help you establish clear tone of voice guidelines. Your team can reference these guidelines to craft brand communications. As team members learn the guidelines and use the brand’s preferred tone, creating new content that aligns with this vision becomes second nature.
Let’s a look at the following steps to help you start creating your brand’s tone of voice:
1 Pinpoint your core values. This will help you find the best language to communicate your message effectively and shape the community surrounding your brand. Once you’re satisfied, it is essential that you add them to your business content style guide.
2 Clearly define your audience. When you’re able to understand, anticipate, and respond to the needs of your audience, you create a personal connection and determine the most effective way to communicate with them. According to a report by Salesforce, 66% of customers expect brands to understand their needs and expectations and not be treated as “just another number.” Without a personalized connection, customers are apt to take their business elsewhere, where they’ll feel valued and appreciated.
3 Identify what your brand sounds like. Take the time to audit your existing content, understand what your brand tone of voice currently sounds like, and note the gaps that may be hindering your communications. If it doesn’t align with the tone you want your brand to have, circle back to your core values and use them, along with this guide, to develop your tone.
Define your brand’s tone of voice with Grammarly Business
Understanding your audience can help determine what your brand wants to say and how to use the right language to get your message across.
If you’re consistent, your target audience will understand what the brand stands for. Utilizing this guide and exploring the brand tone of voice examples above can help you jumpstart the process.