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5 minutes

How to Create Tone of Voice Guidelines for Your Brand

Discover why tone of voice is so important for the success of your brand, and read our guide to creating your own tone of voice guidelines here. Checklist included.

What is a Brand Tone of Voice?

Think of a brand’s tone of voice as its ‘personality’. This tone of voice determines exactly how a brand communicates with its customers. Alongside stylistic choices such as font choice, illustration style, colour palette etc, a brand can become instantly recognisable.

Is your brand serious, trustworthy and professional, or humorous, casual and approachable? These are all key considerations in building a strong and successful brand tone of voice.

Once defined, brands should stick consistently to this tone of voice across all marketing platforms, including email, social media, in-store signage, website copy and external ads, to build a ‘personality’ customers can rely on and trust.

Why is Tone of Voice Important?

Creating a strong, consistent brand tone of voice (and subsequent tone of voice guidelines) is important for many reasons, including:

  • Maintaining consistency: A brand tone of voice ensures that all communication with customers aligns with the brand’s personality, mission and values.
    Additionally, particularly if a company has a large team of copywriters, a brand tone of voice ensures that the brand’s voice remains consistent no matter the personal style of the author.
  • Supports brand recognition: Allows the brand to reinforce the first impression and helps customers recognise and differentiate itself from competitors.
  • Engages the audience: Whether they’re an existing or new customer, a recognisable and consistent tone of voice encourages an emotional connection and resonance with the target demographic.
  • Facilitates storytelling: Provides a narrative framework for conveying the brand’s story and mission.
  • Trust in the brand: A consistent tone of voice positions the brand’s messaging as reliable and authentic.

Brand Tone of Voice Examples

Some global businesses who have nailed their consistent tone of voice and aligned it with their target demographic include:

  • Nike – An upbeat, inspiring, motivational tone embodied in their tagline of ‘just do it’. This tone fits the product and the target audience’s values perfectly, and is one of the key reasons behind Nike’s success.
  • Always Empowering, inclusive, understanding and supportive; Always’ brand tone of voice aims to be a trusted ally to women the world over. Their approachable tone aims to educate customers on menstrual health and hygiene, debunking myths and encouraging open conversations around typically ‘taboo’ subjects, whilst promoting their product range and engaging with their key demographic.
  • IKEA: IKEA’s tone of voice is practical, inclusive and innovative, much like its product offering. It focuses on simplicity, affordability and sustainability, reflecting the brand’s commitment to making everyday life better for people around the world. IKEA’s tone resonates with its diverse customer base, offering solutions that are both functional and stylish.
  • Apple: Known for its minimalist and sleek design, Apple maintains a tone of voice that is simple, innovative and user-friendly across all its communication channels. This tone aligns with its brand identity of sophistication and cutting-edge technology.
  • LEGO: LEGO’s tone of voice is playful, imaginative and creative. It encourages storytelling, exploration and learning through play, reflecting the brand’s mission to inspire and develop the ‘builders of tomorrow’. Whether it’s in product descriptions, social media posts, or website content, LEGO’s tone resonates with children and adults alike.

How to Create Tone of Voice Guidelines for Your Brand

Read on to discover the key considerations to assess when creating your brand guidelines, and our checklist of what to include when writing up your tone of voice guidelines.

Considerations before getting started:

  • Audience analysis

When developing a brand voice, you need to understand the demographics, preferences and communication styles of your target audience.

  • Identify your mission and values

Doing so will help you sculpt exactly what you want your audience and customers to get from your tone of voice.

  • Industry appropriateness

Alongside the audience analysis, you must also consider appropriateness for your industry. For instance, a playful and colloquial tone might be suitable for a fashion brand targeting a younger demographic, while a serious and authoritative tone would be more appropriate for a financial institution conveying trust and reliability.

  • Channel appropriateness

Remember that your brand tone can shift slightly based on the audience or channel, and that’s absolutely fine to do, as long as the tone is consistent on each individual channel. For instance, the tone of your Instagram or TikTok posts might be more relaxed and humorous than your LinkedIn content.

  • Competitor analysis

Take a look at how competitors communicate and identify opportunities to differentiate, and make sure your brand stands out against the rest.

  • Consistency is key

Establish clear guidelines from the offset to maintain consistency in tone, no matter the author or platform.

What to Include in Your Brand Tone of Voice Guidelines

You can use the following checklist when developing tone of voice guidelines, to ensure that you’ve got all bases covered and you’re ready to start producing consistent and successful content that’s ready to be heard!

  • A portrait of your target audience and their voice – It’s incredibly useful for writers to have a target audience in mind when writing. Do some social listening and research your brand name on forums to get a good feel of how you are seen and how your audience speaks and thinks. Do they use slang, what do they care about, where are they most often consuming your brand? Give your typical audience personas names and allow your writers to fully ‘get’ them and what makes them tick.
  • Your mission statement and brand’s core values – This will be useful for anyone writing in your brand voice, to ensure that all communications relate back to the overall mission for consistency.
  • Brand vocabulary – State lexicon preferences, including examples of types of words your brand favours, and which to steer clear of. It’s also a good idea to state why, for example, a luxury travel company may avoid the wording of ‘package holiday’, as it has connotations of budget and low-end holidays.
  • Tone – Offer guidance on grammar and style preferences to maintain consistency.
  • Audience insights: Information about the target audience, including target demographics, preferences and information about desired communication styles.
  • Training materials: Resources or training sessions to educate employees and stakeholders on implementing the brand tone effectively.

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We offer multiple services, and have a wealth of specialties including PPC, digital PR, influencer marketing and more. If you’re interested to find out more, you can check out our work here, or get in touch to discover how we could lead your brand to success.