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From monotone to memorable: mastering brand voice

Take your writing from boring to brilliant with these top tips.


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A distinctive tone of voice is essential for your brand or organisation to stand out in today’s noisy marketplace. It is the je ne sais quoi that takes your brand to new heights, captivating your audience and creating a bond that lingers long after they've finished reading.


Tip 1: Develop your brand's voice


It’s not just about what is said but how it’s said, making sure your brand is relatable, friendly, and professional. People are more likely to trust a brand that has a consistent and well-defined voice.


Before you can develop a distinctive brand tone of voice, it's crucial to have a deep understanding of your target audience. Knowing who your customers are, what they value, and what language and communication style resonate with them is the foundation for creating an effective tone of voice.


Start by defining your brand's personality and values. What do you want your brand to be known for? What emotions do you want to evoke in your audience? Align your communication style with your brand's core beliefs and principles. Developing organisational values is a big piece of work that should involve employees and leadership (‘imposing’ values on staff can lead to resistance, resentment, and even backlash from employees).


Consider the words, phrases, and expressions that fit your brand's personality and values.

Then, think about the language and vocabulary you will use to communicate with your audience. Are you aiming for an official, professional tone or a more informal and conversational one? Consider the words, phrases, and expressions that fit your brand's personality and values. For example, if your brand values sustainability and environmental awareness, your tone of voice should communicate these values through language and messaging.


Finally, ensure consistency across all touchpoints. Your brand should be reflected in your website copy, social media posts, customer service interactions, and any other communication channels.


A large advert on the London Underground promoting Oatly oat milk. The caption on the ad reads: 'Thanks milk, we'll take it from here'. Source: MarketingWeek
Oatly’s ‘Thanks milk, we’ll take it from here’ campaign is witty and provocative. Photo source: MarketingWeek

Challenger brand Oatly has nailed its tone of voice. It’s bold, witty, and opinionated, reflecting the brand’s values and beliefs. The Swedish company uses unashamedly provocative messaging to get consumers to swap dairy milk for oat milk. Its 2023 campaign, ‘Thanks milk, we’ll take it from here’, gives an honorary salute to the dairy industry while making it clear that whatever you do with cow’s milk, you can also do with Oatly.


Another example is Apple. Their brand tone of voice is sleek, minimalist, and sophisticated, mirroring the design and aesthetics of their products. Every communication, from their website copy to their product descriptions, is carefully crafted to reflect their brand's tone.


Tip 2: Storytelling is a powerful technique that can elevate your brand voice


Humans are wired to respond to stories. When a brand tells a compelling story, it becomes more memorable, and consumers are more likely to recall it when making purchasing decisions.


When a brand tells a compelling story, it becomes more memorable ...

Use storytelling techniques such as narrative arcs (like the ‘rags to riches’ story type), characters, and conflict to convey your brand's message compellingly. Share success stories, customer testimonials, or personal anecdotes aligning with your brand values. By weaving stories into your brand's tone of voice, you can captivate your audience and leave a lasting impression.


Ikea’s ‘Proudly the Second Best’ TV ad campaign emphasises the value of family bonds by featuring a parent and child spending quality time together. The company’s best-selling products proudly take second place in the home. It’s a heartwarming message that many parents and carers can relate to.


A princess leans over to kiss her prince. He has dementia and is lying on a bed, looking worried and confused. Source: Alzheimer's Research UK
Alzheimer's Research UK's 'Change the ending' campaign turns the traditional 'happily ever after' fairytale on its head
A wife leans over and kisses her husband, who is lying down on a bed. He has dementia. Source: Alzheimer's Research UK
Robbed of their 'happily ever after'. The new film from Alzheimer's Research UK shows the devastating impact of dementia

For their latest campaign (September 2023), Alzheimer’s Research UK has turned the traditional fairytale on its head. ‘Change the ending’ is a moving story – part animation, part live-action – that shows the devastating impact dementia has on people’s lives. The prince and princess are robbed of their ‘happily ever after’ as the prince’s dementia progresses. Eventually, the princess becomes his carer. It’s hard not to feel moved by the story, which the charity hopes will continue to raise awareness of the condition.


Tip 3: Use your brand’s tone of voice across different channels and platforms


With so many digital channels available to today's marketers, it's important to understand that different channels may require slight adjustments in tone or messaging. Tailor your brand voice to suit the context of each channel without deviating from your core brand identity.


For example, your tone on social media might be casual and conversational, while your website copy may be more formal and informative. Each social media platform has its own culture so flex your tone accordingly (you might opt for more casual content on Facebook than on LinkedIn, for example). Paid social posts, such as PPC ads or display ads, should be concise and attention-grabbing. Focus on delivering a clear message quickly to capture the viewer's interest.


Tailor your brand voice to suit the context of each channel without deviating from your core brand identity.

If you're collaborating with influencers, ensure that their tone aligns with your brand values and the audience(s) they reach. If you're targeting international audiences, consider cultural nuances and language differences. Adapt your tone and content to be culturally sensitive and appropriate for each market.


Regularly review and update your tone of voice guidelines to stay relevant and effective in the ever-evolving landscape of marketing channels.


The power of a distinctive brand voice


In a world where brands constantly compete for attention, developing a distinctive brand tone of voice is crucial. It helps differentiate your brand, build trust with your audience, and create a deeper connection. By understanding your target audience, incorporating brand values, using storytelling techniques, and maintaining consistency across all channels, you can master the art of developing a distinctive brand tone of voice. So, start crafting your brand's voice today and watch as it transforms your brand from monotone to memorable.


 

Check out the Commshelp blog for more tips and insights.

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