Discovering Unique Tone of Voice Through Branding



Whether it’s a start-up business, a new product or your own personal brand, finding the right tone of voice is just as important as designing a logo. It is part of your brand identity and should align with all of the core values and attributes that have been curated for your brand.


What exactly do you mean by ‘tone of voice’?

Tone of voice embodies the type of words, writing style and emotive spirit used when communicating with your potential and current customers. The way a message is delivered or the type of copy used in an ad can be the determining factor on customer engagement. It doesn’t matter how beautifully designed your billboard might look, if the headline hasn’t been precisely thought out, the money spent on that billboard might be a bust.


How do you identify the right tone of voice?

When initially building your brand, defining your target customer should be one of the first steps taken. And the same is true with tone of voice—clearly characterizing the audience you’re speaking to helps define how to communicate. If your main target is 14 – 17-year-olds, the tone of voice used will be quite different than a brand targeting adults 50+. Your product/service also helps curate the emotive essence delivered to your customers, an ad for wedding planning should have a very distinctive tone versus an ad for mental health services. And lastly, your brand identity should really be your ‘north star’ and lead the way for your business tagline, all written communications, including ad headlines, social messaging, customer relationship management, your company website, and any type of print or virtual collateral.


What are examples of different tones of voice?

In the world today there are thousands of different businesses all delivering the same products and services. But brand, target customer, business location and tone of voice help discern these businesses from one another.

For example, there are many steakhouses in the world today. Below are some examples of taglines or headlines used through the years from well-known restaurant brands all selling the same product.


  • Outback Steakhouse: It’s Always Fresh in the Outback

  • Ruth’s Chris: More than a Steak. An Experience.

  • Texas Roadhouse: If it doesn’t Say Texas, it’s not Texas Roadhouse.

  • Morton’s: Savor the Good Life.

  • Smith & Wollensky: You’ve Arrived.

  • Del Frisco’s: Sophisticated. Elegant. Romantic.

  • The Palm: The Place to See and Be Seen.


Can you tell from these copy lines who the target customer is for each steakhouse? Places like Outback Steakhouse and Texas Roadhouse anchor heavily on their origins, Australia & Texas, playing to the novelty of their brand identity, while others like Del Frisco’s, Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s have chosen words that allude to the luxury experience their restaurants offer. And then you have Smith & Wollensky and The Palm, whose taglines tease the interest of a very high-end guest who might feel like they’ve made it by dining there, or gives the sense of FOMO—that they are missing out and not part of the ‘in-crowd’ if they don’t dine there.


Based on these, which steakhouse would you choose?


Ongoing Challenge As you can see, there are a lot of factors that play into finding the best tone of voice to fit for your brand. I suggest continuing to keep tone voice top of mind when creating your original brand guidelines and to challenge yourself and employees to start with copy first when designing any type of advertising.

So, what’s your tagline?


Other sites with useful information on tone of voice:

https://www.semrush.com/blog/how-to-define-your-tone-of-voice/

https://rockcontent.com/blog/brand-tone-of-voice/

https://www.grammarly.com/business/learn/brand-tone-examples/


Author: Eileen Lemish

Editor: Jennifer Hart


 

About the author: Eileen Lemish is a Las Vegas-based marketing professional whose career has spanned from Emmy Award-winning broadcast campaigns to large-scale advertising productions and activations. She has been a leader in the industry for 20+ years with a focus on writing and conceptualization. Eileen has led the creative and marketing teams for one of the world’s largest resorts and is currently overseeing luxury branding in her role as Vice President, Marketing Portfolio for MGM Resorts International. You can follow her and her three crazy dogs on Instagram at @EileeninLV.


 

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