Guide to Brand Tones and Voices — People First Content

Hi, howdy, salutations, and welcome to our guide to brand tones and voices.

Brand voice is an essential aspect of marketing. It defines the personality, values, and attitude of a company’s messaging. In content, brand tone can make or break the success of a marketing campaign.

In this guide, we will explore the importance of tone, creating a brand voice that resonates with your target audience, and finding the right tone for your brand. We will also go over some of the most common mistakes that companies make.

Brand Tone vs. Voice

Brand tone and voice are sometimes used interchangeably, but they are two distinct elements that you need to establish as a part of finding your brand’s identity.

Brand voice is who is talking. Brand tone is how you’re talking.

So if you’re writing to a younger audience, you might decide you want a youthful brand voice. But how is that voice communicating? Are they peppy? Critical? Snarky? Friendly? The tone specifies the way that the voice speaks.

So while they are related, it’s a two-step process.

Importance of Brand Voice and Tone

You need to choose the language to use when talking about your business and when communicating with your customers. Voice distinguishes it from the competition and helps customers recognize your company from others.

Having a consistent voice helps build credibility and trust with your audience. If your audience reads wildly different content, they’ll doubt your consistency.

Why you can’t skip it

When companies are working to establish their brand, they don’t always explicitly define their voice during that process. People often think they can get away with playing it by ear or assume that everyone on their team is on the same page.

That’s a mistake for a couple of reasons.

  1. It can be a consistency nightmare, especially if you’re outsourcing your blogs. You’re going to end up with a very confused agency or freelancer who may or may not use the language and tone you like, wasting everyone’s time.
  2. You miss an opportunity to establish your brand’s personality and values and how you plan to communicate them to your audience.

Sure, maybe you have a great handle on who you are and what you stand for within your company. But that’s not helpful if you aren’t communicating that to your customers.

Having an established brand voice will streamline creating and sourcing content that matches your personality. Brand voice is an essential aspect of a company’s marketing efforts. By establishing a distinct identity, a brand voice helps companies stand out in the market.

How To Create Brand Voice and Tone

So now that you know you need to create a brand voice, how do you go about it?

First, you need to ask yourself some broad questions:

Like customer profiles, it can help to imagine someone who embodies the voice you’re using.

Think of as many adjectives that describe your company as possible, then pare it down to five that encapsulate you.

You’re establishing who you are and how you want to come across to customers. Once you’ve figured out who you are, it’s time to think about your audience.

Target audience

Businesses should never forget that they’re addressing an audience. Whom you’re speaking to will change many things. For example, if your product is aimed primarily at older adults, you don’t want your voice to use too much contemporary slang and styling.

Beyond basic demographics, you can break it down further by thinking about what your audience wants. Are they looking to laugh? Do they want to feel heard? What do they want to learn?

The more questions you ask yourself, the more refined you can get your voice and tone.

Style guide

Having a style guide is helpful for many reasons, but it’s fantastic for codifying the way you want to address your audience.

Do you want to address the audience directly using “you,” or do you want to stick to the third person? Do you use “I” when writing or maybe the royal we. How formal is your writing? What slang do you allow?

Also, establish a standard readability score. You don’t want one blog post reading like a professor wrote it and then the next one at a middle school level.

Having all these rules written down in a style guide will help get everyone on the same page, in-house or out.

3 Common Pitfalls

These are some ways that businesses fumble the execution of voice and tone.

1. Choosing a voice you can’t own

How do you do, fellow kids?

This is my biggest pet peeve when it comes to brand voices. I put figuring your own identity out as a company before the audience because you shouldn’t try to be something you’re not.

It’s grating and obvious when a company is pandering to their audience by trying to become something they’re not. You can’t fake authenticity, and you shouldn’t try.

Don’t stray too far from what you know, and if you need someone to bridge that gap, hire someone or outsource your writing to someone who can.

2. Inconsistency across platforms (and the opposite)

Sometimes it’s painfully apparent that two or more people are in charge of different platforms for a business. Maybe you’re fun and interactive on social media but severe and buttoned-up on your blog. It’s only going to muddy your identity and confuse people.

On the other hand, if you’re treating all social media the same, you aren’t accounting for the difference in platforms.

Some platforms like Instagram and TikTok allow for more informality, while others like LinkedIn are more formal.

Make sure you aren’t unrecognizable from one platform to another so your audience isn’t confused. Think of it this way. You should always be using the same voice, but your tone may differ depending on the situation.

Related: 6 Tips for an Effective Social Media Branding Strategy

3. Alienating potential audience

Sometimes businesses can get tunnel vision when they’re defining their target audience. If everything is hyper-specific to one target audience, those who fall outside of that can feel like you don’t want their business.

Using slang and jargon will limit you to those in the know and potentially keep you from connecting with a broader audience.

It can also be potentially problematic if you’re addressing all your messaging to a specific gender or age (looking at you, yogurt commercials). You end up limiting yourself and making a point-spoken or unspoken-that your product is for a certain kind of person and them alone.

Finding Your Voice

The voice and tone of a brand create the personality that customers see. It separates your company from the others in the same industry and makes people remember you. Understanding how to create a brand voice is essential for any business looking to stand out in an increasingly competitive market.

If you’re struggling to find your voice, People First Content can help! We can work with you to figure out how you want to present yourself and create content to match. Contact us today to get started!

Originally published at on May 24, 2022.



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