The tone of voice of your brand: how to define it and why

Defining the tone of voice of the brand is important because it allows you to create a clear and effective communication style. But above all recognizable, because it is aligned with your founding values.

This goes for any business, from copywriting to blogging. An example that I always give during my lesson at the master in web marketing of Studio Samo: how would someone who works for Coca-Cola write an article on the blog? And the one who does the lyrics for Redbull?

They are two different IVF  companies, with different values ​​and tone of voice that is recognized and appreciated by readers.

But how to define it?

What are the strengths of a company that works well with this element? Here is a small guide to get the pulse of the situation at all times.

The Topic Of This Post

  • 1 What is the tone of voice: definition
  • 2 Why the brand TOV is useful
  • 3 How to find the tone of voice
  • 4 Your brand tone of voice

What is the tone of voice: definition

This term refers to how a company defines its communication with the public. Here we find the style, the expressions, the choice of terms, and setting.

You can have a reassuring tone of voice if you sell nuclear accident-proof or bubbly insurance if energy drinks for fearless athletes are at the heart of your business.

The tone of voice (known as TOV) characterizes all your communication, online and offline, declining every aspect based on the platform but without ever losing the common thread.

Why the brand TOV is useful

Through this work of defining the tone of voice, you can communicate effectively. Every externalization – from the tweet to the blog article to the poster design – becomes part of a whole. And it always moves with a common goal: to describe the brand as a homogeneous reality.

Communication professionals do not like to improvise: the tone of voice of the brand is essential to create a winning copy but also a visual capable of communicating in the best way who you are, what you do, and, above all, what values ​​you transfer.

For example, doing a visual storytelling job is practically impossible if you don’t have a clear understanding of the brand’s tone of voice.

How to find the tone of voice

This can be one of the most challenging activities to tackle, but it sure is the one that can kick-start what good communication is all about. I would say to start the work to find the tone of voice from a SWOT analysis. So setting up an array:

  • Strengths.
  • Weaknesses.
  • Threats.
  • Opportunity.

This way you start working on a clear question: who you are, what you do, what your core values ​​are. The brief to have a solid point from which to start the reflection on the brand’s TOV should include just this: who you are, what you do special, what is your main promise.

The 4 dimensions of the TOV

The basic idea: to have clear references to organize the style with which you can present yourself to the public. The latter must be the pivot that can help you make decisions, but not without having taken a look at the 4 dimensions of the tone of voice according to Jakob Nielsen.

It can be a good opportunity to organize the tone of voice to define in which section it should be positioned. Or if it stays in the area of ​​neutrality as you can see above.

Fun Vs Serious

Will you use humor in your business communication or does the topic you manage need to be addressed seriously? What are the people you want to reach looking for? And are they willing to accept the irony? It is not always easy (and advisable) to work on this dimension.

Formal Vs Informal

How did you decide to communicate? With elements that follow the rules or do you decide to go beyond the lines by working on hyperbole and advanced and articulated references? Above all, are you able to be direct with users? Here the fundamental question is defined: can I call the reader you?

Respectful Vs irreverent

In an attempt to distinguish your brand from competitors, you will focus on communication that is above the rules, abrasive and impactful. You can do it? And do you know how to move your pieces?

Or, based on the reflections in your possession, is it better to simply respect the references of the standard already defined? Sometimes it can lead to offense and that’s not good.

Enthusiasm Vs Reality

Does the topic excite those who communicate or is it all based on facts, on telling things as they are listing concrete data and references? Is the writing direct, free of frills and emotions?

Organize your matrix

Based on these reflections you can find the tone of voice of the brand by setting a very simple scheme that you have the opportunity to see here in an image taken from coschedule.com.

Here’s how to define the tone of voice of the brand.

First column: the traits of your tone of voice. In the second, describe what you have just indicated with a clear definition, then write down what must be respected and the points to avoid. At the end also add an example to immediately clarify what you mean and how to apply the rules.

Your brand tone of voice

This is the basic definition that helps you take your first steps in the world of TOV. This is not enough, then we have to move on to practice. But there are many examples of companies that have done great things by carefully evaluating the tone of voice of the brand. And setting up adequate communication. Are you part of these virtuous examples? How did you work?

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