What's a tone of voice, and why do you need one?

A tone of voice is a way of communicating that’s unique to your brand. Think of Innocent’s friendliness, First Direct’s straightforwardness and Virgin’s naughtiness. The idea is that by using the tone of voice consistently, from TV ads to Ts & Cs, people always get the same impression of who you are.

There are all sorts of reasons why tone of voice is important, but here are our top five.

1. People will like you more

There are loads of behavioural science studies linking processing fluency to positive affect. In other words, we like things that are easy. That goes for writing too. If something’s hard to process, like the first sentence in this paragraph, we like it a lot less than an equivalent, easy-to-read sentence.

Brands that have a tone of voice are more fluent, and more fluent brands are more liked.

2. It’s a cheap and easy way to go viral

Here’s a lovely cookie message from Thesaurus.com:

These little nuggets make people smile. And those smiles often turn into tweets, Instagram posts and blogs (like this one). I’ve just given Thesaurus.com some free advertising. Just for writing something in their wordy-nerdy tone of voice.

3. It’s a Trojan horse for your brand values

If you’ve got a set of values, attributes or behaviours you want everyone to remember and adopt, your tone of voice will help. Let’s say ‘confident’ is a trait you’re trying to push. You can tell your people to be confident, but that’s vague and open to interpretation. Tell them to swap their mights and coulds for will, though, and you’ve magically got them to live the value every time they write.

4. It’ll help you stand out

The rule is you can’t write a tone of voice blog without mentioning Innocent at least twice, so here you go. Would they be the success story they are today without this sort of thing?

Their tone of voice helped them stand out and stick in people’s minds from the get-go. I’d argue it’s even a distinctive asset (to use the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute term) – as famous as their logo or the shape of the smoothie bottle. And the more distinctive assets you’ve got, the more likely people are to think of your brand when they’re ready to buy.  

5. It’ll have a real, tangible impact

Good writing is far from just a nice-to-have. It can help you sell more, cut costs, keep customers… all the things you need to do to build a successful business.

For one of our clients, we rewrote four customer help articles and cut the number of calls into the call centre by 14,000 a year. For another, we rewrote marketing emails and boosted sales by 15% (which will bring in £2,000,000 more a year).

To see the impact your brand voice can have, you just need to do it right. We can help you with that.

Give us a ring and let’s get started.

And in the meantime, you can grab some of our wisdom for free right here.

Our ideas and freebies, straight to your inbox

Got it. You’re on the list.