You'll always recognize your parent or guardian's voice. It rarely ever changes. But you also can recognize their tone and know how much trouble you're in.
The same goes for your company's brand. Your audience will become familiar with the tone of voice your content possesses and recognize it as uniquely yours.
And the best part? You can define it however you want.
What Is Brand Tone?
Your brand tone is how your messaging is relayed to your audience. This is how you communicate your brand's personality and values.
It can change depending on the content, but for the most part, it's a pretty established part of your brand.
It's what sets you apart from your competitors and makes your business unique. And in a flooded market, you'll want as many differentiators as possible.
The Difference Between Brand Tone and Brand Voice
You've probably said this to someone close to you at some point in your life: it's not what you say, it's how you say it.
That's the key differentiator between the two.
For example, if your blog's voice is considered playful, then your tone can also be communicated as sarcastic, quirky, punny, and so forth.
The Impact Brand Tone Can Have On Your Business
Being straightforward, brand tone has a huge impact on your business. You can both alienate and draw in audiences depending on how you deliver your messaging.
Generally, though, having a defined tone of voice can benefit your company in a variety of ways.
Consumers appreciate consistency. They want nothing more than to be able to predict and anticipate what they'll receive from their preferred brands.
Once you've fallen into the rhythm of writing in a certain tone, your audience will personify your business and learn that's who it is. They'll be able to decide if they like it or not, learn what sort of content to expect from you, and even start getting excited for more.
Attracts the Right Crowd
Naturally, it'll be easier to market, sell, and service those who have similar tastes and values as you. If you're targeting a certain type of customer, you'll have an easier time converting them if you're speaking their language.
If you're aiming for more general audiences, then taking on a more neutral tone will help you stay away from turning off potential leads.
Supports Your Values
This is where your tone and messaging can really get your mission and values across to your audience. If your voice and your vision don't align, then you'll have a tough time convincing customers that you truly believe in your own mission statement.
How to Refine Your Brand Tone
Crafting the perfect tone for your brand takes time and practice. You won't nail it right away, especially if you're in the early stages of building your brand identity.
Here are some best practices to help you discover your voice and refine your tone:
Remember Who Your Audience Is.
Do you know your buyer personas inside and out? Can you describe your ideal customer off the top of your head?
A big part of finding and defining your brand's tone of voice is by knowing who you're trying to speak to and understanding what they'll be receptive to.
Examine who your current customers are and analyze past successes to learn what it was that attracted them to you. What demographics do you want to pull in and what sort of language appeals to them? Can you naturally incorporate that tone into your content?
These are the questions you need to ask.
Consider the Content You Create.
Your tone should also fit the purpose of your content. Depending on whether you're writing blogs, whitepapers, pillar pages, or something else entirely, you'll need to gauge how you approach it.
For example, it's a lot more appropriate to be silly with memes and GIFs in a blog post than it is in a playbook.
Don't get too lost in the fun of it all and cross lines of professionalism.
Establish Your Style.
If you're a writer, you know that every person has their own writing style. Their own voice, if you will.
Depending on your industry, your business, and a bunch of other factors, you may be able to have multiple writers use their individual styles for your content.
Even so, they all do need to flow the same way. A different author doesn't mean a different brand.
Make sure your content team understands your branding, mission, and values so that even if they all carry different tones, they'll still exist under a unified voice.
Test Different Versions.
Remember how we said tone and voice are two different things? While your brand's voice should never change, you can approach tone with a bit more flexibility so long as you're not doing a full 180.
With different pieces of content, try dabbling with different tones to see what audiences respond to.
Maybe you're didactic in an ebook, but take on a more lax, casual tone in a weekly blog. Or your web copy is super welcoming and engaging, but you're not afraid to be sassy and pithy in your social media posts.
As long as it still fits your brand, you can play around with it a bit.
If you try to copy someone else's personality, you'll never be able to wear it right and people will take notice pretty quickly.
The same goes for marketing. Be original in crafting your tone of voice and make it feel authentic. People are attracted to those who can be individualistic and unique. If it feels forced or inorganic, they'll dismiss you as a poser pretty quickly.
Examples of Brand Tone
The top companies that come to mind when you talk about an industry are usually the ones with strong brand voices. Their marketing goes above and beyond because they know exactly who they are and what value they can deliver.
Here are some pretty great examples of brands with unique tones of voice:
This tech giant has a reputation for being the very definition of cool innovation, and they carry that idea across their branding.
A lot of Apple's marketing consists of simple and confident statements.
"Pro cameras. Pro display. Pro performance." How much more self-assured can you get?
With such an assertive, certain, and direct tone, there's no questioning Apple's authority on mobile products. Not only does it make them appear more credible, but it inspires trust in their products as well.
Ask any Apple user. They'll agree that they have the best.
That straight confidence matches the rest of their branding too. Their ads, webpages, and stores all feature minimalist, sleek designs that scream simplicity.
On the other side of the spectrum is Mailchimp, a brand that never takes itself too seriously. Consumers familiar with the company know that Mailchimp's messaging is always going to air on the side of goofy and entertaining.
Take a look at their 404 error page:
They use this sort of offbeat humor across all of their content, inspiring good nature toward the brand as a whole. It's a lighthearted tone that a wide variety of audiences have responded positively to.
Taco Bell speaks to a very specific audience: the edgy and the hungry.
They lean into their adventurous, hilarious persona and occasionally even dance on the line of sarcastic.
While you'd think that this would create a very niche customer base, it's actually defined what kind of fast food option they are. They're there for those who are looking for some fast, tasty food and won't be judged for it.
Gone are the days of quirky Chihuahua mascots. The era of being unapologetically hungry is now, and Taco Bell is here for you.
Creating a unique brand tone of voice can be a tricky process, but it's always best to lean into what comes naturally. As long as you're being consistent and authentic to your brand, you'll find your people.
Now get out there and show the world your company's shining personality!