brand voice and tone

When you write copy or content for your business or blog, there are lots of different things you may consider. You may think about your headline, the key points you want to convey, and the call to action you plan to include at the end. But there’s something important that you may not pay much attention to: how you’re going to communicate this information. In other words, you may not give much thought to your brand voice and tone.

Defining your brand voice and choosing the right tone is critical for communicating in a way that resonates with your audience and makes you stand out from your competition. How do you choose the right brand voice and tone for your business or blog? I’m breaking it all down below!

 

Want your copy and content to resonate with your audience and persuade them to convert? Learn how to craft the right voice for your business or blog.
Download the free brand voice worksheet.

The difference between voice and tone

Before we talk about how to define your brand voice and tone, we need to talk about the difference between voice and tone. A lot of people use the terms “voice” and “tone” interchangeably. Some people even string them together and use the term “tone of voice.” But the truth is that voice and tone refer to different aspects of how you communicate as a business or blog. Here’s how the two terms differ:

Voice

Your brand voice is the personality of your business or blog. If your business or blog was a person, your brand voice would be its personality characteristics. For example, your voice can be friendly, passionate, educated, witty, or reserved.

For example, as MailChimp notes in its style guide, its brand voice is friendly, familiar, and straightforward. This makes sense because MailChimp’s goal is to make email marketing easy and accessible.

 

brand voice

 

In comparison, Deloitte’s brand voice is clear, confident, and human. This type of voice is appropriate for a multinational professional services firm.

 

brand voice

 

And you can compare both of these to the brand voice of Love Beauty and Planet. Passionate, caring, and friendly, it fits a brand that targets millennial women with environmentally conscious beauty products.

 

brand voice

 

Just like actual personality traits, your brand voice remains the same across all of the copy and content you create. It may change over time as your business or blog evolves, but it doesn’t change based on what you’re writing and who on your team is writing it.

Why voice matters

There are a number of reasons why it’s important to have a well-defined brand voice and use it consistently. First, when you have a defined brand voice, you’re more likely to end up with a website, blog posts, and ads that feel like they belong to the same business or blog. This helps your business or blog seem more coherent and put together. Second, when you use a defined brand voice consistently in your copy and content, your audience has an easier time recognizing you across platforms. Third, if you’ve crafted it strategically, your brand voice helps you stand out from your competition by leaving a unique impression on your audience. Fourth, data shows that a big part of what makes brands successful is how consistent their communication is.

Tone

Whereas your brand voice is the personality of your business or blog, your tone is how you express your personality in a particular situation. It depends on your audience and goals for a piece of copy or content, the audience’s emotional state, and any other relevant contextual factors. For example, you might use an upbeat and persuasive tone on a sales page but a cautious and humble tone in an apology email to your subscribers or customers.

Unlike your brand voice, your tone changes from one piece of copy or content to another.

Related: 8 key questions to ask yourself before you write web copy + free copy planning worksheet

Why tone matters

If you want your copy or content to have its intended effect and be received well by your audience, you need to choose the right tone for it. If you choose the wrong tone, your message may fail to persuade your audience to do what you want them to do. And it can even trigger backlash. This is especially likely to happen when you’re writing copy to address a problem your audience is experiencing with your brand or a mistake you’ve made.

For example, earlier this week, there was a widespread Internet, cable TV, and home phone outage in downtown Toronto. For just about 24 hours, Rogers customers who were affected by the outage couldn’t get online for work, watch a show, or make phone calls from their landline. Naturally, many customers took to Twitter to express their frustration. This is an example of how Rogers responded to one of them:

 

brand voice

 

At first, you may be able to look past the wit (which isn’t the best choice when you’re facing an angry customer) and recognize the empathy in the tone Rogers uses. However, if you look at how Rogers replied to similar tweets, you’ll see that its responses are almost all the same. So what originally seemed like empathy now feels like an empty, inauthentic, cookie-cutter response. And this makes the inappropriate wit all the more problematic and irritating (which a customer didn’t hesitate to point out).

 

brand voice

 

Want your copy and content to resonate with your audience and persuade them to convert? Learn how to craft the right voice for your business or blog.
Download the free brand voice worksheet.

 

How to choose the right voice

Don’t know where to start with defining your brand voice? Use these tips:

Gather ideas

The first step in defining your brand voice is to collect information that will help you describe your brand’s personality. There are 3 key sources of information you can consult here:

Review existing copy and content

Go through existing pieces of copy or content you’ve created (or had someone else create) for your brand before. These can include website copy, blog posts, ad copy, marketing emails, and brochures. You don’t have to review every single thing you’ve ever written, but try to review a variety of pieces to make sure your search is comprehensive. As you read through each piece, separate the ones that sound generic from the ones that truly illustrate your unique brand. Make a note of characteristics that describe your brand well.

 

brand voice

Look for inspiration

Don’t have existing copy or content to work with? Need more inspiration? Take a look at copy and content produced by other businesses and blogs. (These can be brands in your niche or in a different niche.) Find examples of copy or content that match what you’re trying to achieve with your brand. For each example, identify the characteristics that define the business’s or blog’s brand voice.

 

brand voice

Study your competitors

As I mentioned above, one of the main functions of your brand voice is to set you apart from your competition. That’s why it’s important to make sure that your brand voice is unique from that of your competitors. To do this, study the copy and content of your key competitors and identify the characteristics that define each competitor’s brand voice.

Note that you don’t have to steer clear of all characteristics that define your competitors’ brand voices. But you don’t want your brand voice to be a duplicate of any of theirs.

 

brand voice

Describe your voice

Take a look at the characteristics you identified when reviewing your existing copy, inspiration brands, and key competitors. Eliminate any characteristics that don’t represent your brand. Next, group the characteristics into categories by identifying common themes. Lastly, choose the 3 categories that best describe your business or blog. These are the 3 main characteristics that describe your brand voice.

For example, you may identify that your brand is passionate, confident, and edgy. Alternatively, you may decide that “reserved,” “polished,” and “informative” describe it best.

 

 

Want your copy and content to resonate with your audience and persuade them to convert? Learn how to craft the right voice for your business or blog.
Download the free brand voice worksheet.

 

Implement and update

Once you’ve defined your brand voice, be sure to share it with anyone who produces copy or content for your business or blog. This can include other people on your team and external copywriters and content writers. When everyone is on the same page about what your brand voice is, your copy and content is more likely to consistently illustrate it.

You also want to remember to update your brand voice as your business or blog grows or new competitors enter the market. It’s also a good idea to revisit your brand voice a few times a year and make sure it’s still the best fit for you and your audience. If there’s a component of your brand voice that isn’t working well in your copy or with your audience, your brand voice may need an update.

How to choose the right tone

Unlike with a brand voice, there isn’t a specific process or set of guidelines for defining the tone you should use for a piece of copy or content. After all, the right tone for any given piece depends on the specific situation you’re writing for.

When selecting a tone for a piece of copy or content, consider your audience and goal. Based on this information, decide how formal vs. casual your language should be, how serious vs. laidback you should seem, and to what extent it would be appropriate to include jokes and emojis (if they’re consistent with your brand voice). For example, your tone may be casual and laidback in social media posts, upbeat and persuasive on a landing page, and serious and cautious in an apology email.

 

brand voice

Find your brand voice and tone

Communicating effectively with your audience isn’t just about saying the right things. It’s also about saying it the right way. That’s why it’s important to have a well-defined brand voice and to select the right tone when you write copy or content for your business or blog. When you communicate with a defined brand voice and the right tone, your website, blog posts, or ads will resonate with your audience, set you apart from your competition, and persuade your audience to follow your calls to action.

 

 

Want your copy and content to resonate with your audience and persuade them to convert? Learn how to craft the right voice for your business or blog.
Download the free brand voice worksheet.

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brand voice and tone

How to choose the right voice & tone for your blog or biz + free brand voice worksheet
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