When you think of a brand, what do you think of? Most can probably think of a logo, like the distinctive Nike “swoosh”. But brands interact with their audience far more than just through the physical image they present. A brand also represents itself through the perception they create within people’s minds. Consumers can’t pick up on a brand’s body language, but they can pick up on how the brand communicates in other ways.
So what is voice and tone? Are they different?
The answer is yes. Think of voice as climate and tone as the weather. You might express your company values and way of thinking through your voice, but the tone in which you express those things can change depending on the situation.
Your brand voice is the overarching personality that you want your brand to have. It includes the things that are never going to change, no matter who you’re talking to or what channel you’re using. Voice will determine things like whether your brand is more laid-back and uses slang or is professional, using to-the-point wording.
Brand tone gives you more wiggle room among those channels and audience groups. We do this in real life. The way you talk to your best friend versus the way you’d talk to your boss would probably be different. You adapt based on your surroundings and the outcome you’re looking to achieve.
People don’t like being talked at. People are also generally suspicious when they feel like they’re being sold to. When consumers see a brand, they know why they’re there. That is where crafting a voice and tone becomes necessary and important. People want something or someone they connect with. You want people to engage with your brand organically. And most times, a strong voice will be listened to.
If you were to say the name, “Robin Williams,” most people instantly know the type of person you’re talking about. Perhaps someone bright, funny, caring, even slightly irreverent at times. The opposite kind of personality could be someone like Christian Bale; who might be described as serious, stiff, maybe even explosive. When customers identify a tone of voice, they can also pick up on a personality. By doing this, customers feel like they’re getting to know your brand or company, and that is how you start to build trust.
“Most of the time, people are more comfortable with an organization they feel they connect with on a personal level. People like kinship; they want to work with people they respect and trust.”
– Associate Creative Director, Tess Felton
With great power comes great responsibility
You want to use your voice and tone to attract the right customers. Once you’ve built up trust with them, you can start to use that trust to influence them. This is a critical step toward creating effective marketing; people like to do business with other people they know and trust.
Once you have a person’s trust, they will be more willing to engage with you, support your work and share it, but that also brings brand loyalty over time.
Happy, loyal, engaged customers talk positively about your brand and will often end up creating new content. This content then can organically reach other customers and prospective customers, delivering your brand’s message for you.
Luminus has created a series of voice and tone exercises that we walk our clients through. In one of the steps, we try to have you name a person you want to associate your brand with. Just like a person is multifaceted (they have hobbies, goals, a life, etc.), creating a brand persona helps round out what that voice sounds like if it were a living, breathing person.
“Working through our exercises gives clients skin in the game and helps them arrive at their own conclusions with the marketing team about how the brand behaves, looks, and sounds.”
-Kellie Mazur, Senior Copywriter
Clients really drive our exercises and as marketers, we adapt to those qualities. We don’t put words in your mouths. We encourage all the stakeholders to be present for any voice and tone discussions because when it’s established together, everyone is on the same page and everyone takes pride in what was created. When your team is confident in who you are, your customers will take notice.
Once a voice and tone are established, we can then use it as a point of reference. We want anybody, from the Luminus team to your CEO, to any of your colleagues or employees, to be able to thoroughly know and understand who your brand is. A consistent brand voice convinces consumers that the brand is living up to the company’s mission and following through on its promises.
If you’re inconsistent across channels, it’s going to be tough for people to get a sense of who you are as a company. Your whole brand has to represent your company. If you don’t have a unified voice and tone, your message will get lost in the noise and customers won’t be able to create a personal connection with you. A long-term brand strategy will need to have a successful long-term brand voice. Our team is here to help you craft a great brand strategy, find your voice, and create brand loyalists who connect with your values and choose you every time.
“Voice and tone, if it’s done right as part of your comprehensive brand, should extend beyond what Luminus is going to deliver for you. It should be ingrained and integrated into how your entire team communicates. Anyone who is engaging with your company should get that same voice – it should extend far beyond advertising and ripple throughout the company.”
– Associate Creative Director, Tess Felton
For more thoughts on this, check out Episode 35 of our Building Brands podcast with Tess…
EP33: HOW ESTABLISHING VOICE & TONE CAN POWER BRAND LOYALTY
Tess Felton, Associate Creative Director at Luminus talks about how building a brand persona and injecting a specific personality, voice, and tone into a company’s marketing communications strategy can help establish trust, lead to sales, and build customer loyalty.