What is your Brand Tone of Voice?
Your brand’s tone of voice is how you communicate with your target audience. With a clear tone of voice, you’re supporting recognition of your brand, as well as setting the tone for how your customers think of you and relate to you. It’s an extension of your values that also shows off your brand’s personality. Your tone of voice provides clear guidelines for all your messaging; it defines how you will and won’t say what you need to say, to help you and your team members communicate in a consistent way.
“People don’t always remember what you say or even what you do, but they always remember how you made them feel.” — Maya Angelou
Your audience probably won’t remember exactly what you’ve said; so, how do you want to make them feel?
How do you describe your tone of voice?
There are four dimensions of tone of voice: Funny vs Serious, Formal vs Casual, Respectful vs Irreverent, and Enthusiastic vs Matter-of-fact. Each one is like a sliding scale — your brand may sit at one end or the other, but it could be somewhere in between, and there are pros and cons for each.
You can get even more specific as you decide where to position your tone of voice:
(Hat tip to Nielsen Norman Group for these descriptors!)
Choosing words to describe your tone of voice is like choosing gelato flavours: just one might not be the right choice for you. If that’s the case, try a combination to figure out what works well together, and what’s going to suit the personality of your brand.
For a brand that…
- Lends a helping hand: Conversational, Informative, Sympathetic
- Disrupts the status quo: Frank, Irreverent, Unapologetic
- Prizes their customer relationships: Caring, Friendly, Trustworthy
How to find your brand’s tone of voice
The best way to figure out if a tone of voice is right for your brand is to take it for a test drive. Choose a few personality traits, and using those traits, imagine the follow-up email you would send if you’d just accidentally sent an email to the wrong person.
Here’s a few examples to get you started:
- Serious: “You have just received an email that was intended for another recipient. Please delete this email that was incorrectly sent to you. My apologies for any inconvenience.”
- Casual: “I’ve just sent you the wrong email, sorry! Having one of those days haha. Hope your day is going better than mine 🙂 Talk soon!”
- Irreverent: “Oops, my bad, ignore that.”
- Enthusiastic: “Hello! I’ve just sent you the wrong email – sorry! Ignore me and carry on. Have a nice day!”
To narrow down your options, you can ask yourself: Which feels more natural to you? Which one is going to connect with your target audience? What’s going to inspire confidence in your customers?
If it feels like a challenge to figure out what your tone of voice is, try ruling out what your tone of voice is not. Maybe you want to build a relationship with a more established brand but worry that Friendly sounds too inexperienced; Trustworthy or Respectful could be your sweet spot, balancing professionalism with warmth. If you want to use your tone of voice to connect with customers, but Enthusiastic feels too earnest for your brand, try Conversational or Playful to feel relatable and fun.