How to nail down your brand's tone and voice

Camilla Dudley
By Camilla Dudley
Best practices

Whatever you want to say to your customers, there are a million ways to say it. To include emojis or not to include emojis? To crack a joke or not to crack a joke? To use corporate lingo or not? These are questions that lie at the heart of a company’s tone and voice. In order to effectively communicate and build lasting relationships with customers, you need to nail down what you want to say and how you want to say it.

What are tone and voice exactly?

Tone and voice go hand in hand, but they are slightly different. Put simply, your brand’s voice is your brand’s personality. Smart. Funny. Hip. Satirical. Your brand’s tone, on the other hand, is the application of your brand’s voice on certain channels, with certain audiences, for certain situations. For example, if your brand’s voice is funny, much of your communication will include humour. However, when you’re emailing a notice about a product malfunction, your tone of that email should be slightly more serious, while still keeping your brand’s casual style.

Here are a few things to consider when nailing your own brand’s tone and voice:

Find your audience

In order to connect with your customers, you need to know who your customers are and where they’re interacting with your brand. For example, if your a retail brand and most of your social media audience is generation Z, then perhaps a more casual or playful tone would be a better fit than something overly formal.

@ManhattanMiniStorage knows its NYC audience well — clever, professional, and short on space.

Be purposeful

Your brand’s tone and voice should be purposeful. Gather your company’s decision-makers and answer some self-reflective questions to nail down your voice. 

Here are some ideas to get started:

  • How do you want your brand to make people feel?
  • What do you want consumers to do when they interact with your brand?
  • What are three words that describe your brand?
  • What brands are you drawn to? Why?
  • What brands do you dislike? Why?

Stand out from your competitors

Look at how your competition interacts with customers to get an idea of what’s appropriate for your customer base. Or, it may inspire you to stand out and give your consumers a new type of conversation.

@Charmin turns the mundane topic of toilet paper into humorous conversations with clever Tweets.

Create and voice and tone guide

Once you’ve determined your brand’s voice and various tones, lay it out in a guide for your marketing team. As your company grows, various people will be writing to represent your brand. It’s important they have clear guidelines and standards so your brand has a consistent tone and voice, regardless of the writer.

With the right tone and voice, you’ll be able to better engage your customers and build long-term loyalty in your brand.

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