The importance of tone in branding communications
Your brand is the essence of your business. Your brand identity encapsulates your product, values, personality and authenticity. It’s the ‘believable’ you; it’s an ongoing story that differentiates you from your competitors, connects you with your audience and inspires action and loyalty in your customers.
We’ve explored in previous blogs (The Power of Colour Branding) the vital importance of unified design, colour and visual content in communicating brand identity, and this consistency of approach is also crucial for written brand communications across platforms. You need to express your brand personality and tell its story authentically and consistently through the written word across your website, social media channels, email marketing campaigns, advertising and packaging materials. To do this effectively, you will first need to find your ‘voice’, and then identify your ‘tone’.
Voice – the centre of the branding universe.
Your brand voice is pivotal in all marketing and sales communications. It expresses your essential character and values and should be consistent and unchanging, whether you are sending a Tweet or writing a high-level business presentation. An effective brand voice creates an impression of honesty and trustworthiness for your audience. Humans are creatures of habit and are reassured by continuity and harmony. Contradiction or discord jars with the human mind and is off-putting for your customers.
How to define your brand voice:
1 – Understand your ‘what’:
Identify what your brand stands for. What three words would you use to describe it? Consult your employees and customers – what values do they associate with your business? For example – an artisan fine jewellery brand might be ‘luxury, craftsmanship, unique’
2 – Understand your ‘who’:
Who are you speaking to? Analyse and describe your customers in terms of their demographic, lifestyles, behaviours and interests. If you are a new business, create user personas to bring your potential customers and their habits to life. What are the values they identify with?
Once you have defined the common values between you and your customers, this will inform the basis of your brand voice. Our fictional jewellery brand will need to ensure ‘luxury, craftsmanship and unique’ are the values that remain consistently at the heart of all their written and visual communications. It expresses what they are, and is what they want to be known for.
How to adopt the right ‘tone’
Understand your ‘how’
If your brand voice is the ‘what’ of your business, then your tone is the ‘how’. Our fine jewellery brand may be big or small, marketing to wealthy middle-aged conservatives, or younger liberal bohemians. How they express themselves in written collateral will be key for connecting and engaging with the right audience. Should they be formal or chatty? Descriptive or concise?
Take your brand voice descriptions and create a subset of words that describe ‘how’ you want your brand to come across. Our jewellery brand might decide to use the words ‘youthful, informal, eco-conscious’ for example. These words will then inform the brand tone of voice and need to be taken into consideration when deciding what language, vocabulary, structure and style of writing to use across platforms. A more colloquial, light-hearted tone is appropriate with this younger, more laid-back audience but an eco-conscious vibe might also require a degree of depth and seriousness perhaps.
Of course, your tone can change according to your medium. A company report will be written in a more formal tone than a Monday Motivation Facebook post. But both pieces should express your brand ‘voice’. Whatever your decision about your brand voice and tone, consistency is key for creating an engaged audience.
At Jones & Bone we help brands find their own unique identities and voices and ensure these are carried through consistently, both visually and tonally across all platforms. We devise style and brand guidelines to help all your employees understand and effectively communicate your brand. We continue the brand story through content creation and help brands stay relevant and engaged using a consistent brand narrative.