Tone of voice, brand recognition, sound, verbal identity,

In the world of branding, tone of voice is the (oft overlooked) poor relation: it’s not considered sexy or exciting, there is no great unveiling or WOW moment, the things we love about a visual brand don’t generally apply to how you sound. Many companies I’ve worked with over the  years  have understood the need to develop a brand, spending thousands on what they look like, only to decide that tone of voice is a ‘nice to have’. But it just doesn’t make sense. Here’s why.

Howdy, pop pickers.

People I meet often don’t understand what a tone of voice truly is. I hear, ‘our tone of voice is open, honest, and friendly’, for example. At that point I don my cape and tights and burst in to spout off about BBC radio stations.

Radio 1 is a light entertainment channel targeting younger people. It’s open, honest and friendly.

Radio 2 is a light entertainment channel targeting slightly older people. It’s open, honest and friendly.

Radio 6 music is a light entertainment channel targeting music lovers. It’s open, honest and friendly.

But their brands, the ‘feel’ that each of those radio stations evokes is completely different in each case. And that’s because they each have a very different tone of voice. They sound distinctly different.

So, is this you?

You could be a rock ‘n’ roll maverick disruptor brand and still sound open honest and friendly.
You could be a factually based information service brand and still sound open, honest and friendly.

See what I mean?

That’s not your tone of voice. Your tone of voice is about expressing your brand personality through words – and it’s important to do that as it is to express it visually.

Okay, where next then?

Brands that stand out, that endure, that really work hard, are recognisable before you’ve seen a logo, or a colour scheme, because how they sound is immediately, distinctively, them. It’s as recognisable as their visual identity. Think Virgin, Innocent, Ronseal, First Direct, Monzo (in fact, you can check out their tone of voice guide, here, it makes our hearts beat faster it’s so beautiful). We’d know them with our eyes shut. If you’d like to develop a brand that sounds as good as it looks, you’re in the right place. Drop us a line, let’s mull it over.

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