18 April 2019

Tone of Voice

It is widely accepted that the words we use are only a small part of what makes successful communication. And tone of voice is exactly that.

It is all about how you say something rather than what you say. 

And the right tone of voice can make a brand distinctive, appealing and set it apart from its competitors just as the wrong tone of voice can turn people off immediately.

At Brandon, we have been helping brands to define their own unique tone of voices, its great to get to the heart of how brands project their tone.

So we wanted to pull together our top 5 tips for getting the right tone of voice for your brand, as well as share our list of favourite brands.

Tip 1 – Use the archetypes model for inspiration

The brand archetype model was developed by Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung. It is readily available online and is a great way to decide what your brand positioning and tone of voice should be. We love this model for its simplicity and use it frequently for pulling apart brand territories, finding space versus competitors and being single minded in our approach.


Tip 2 – Use a professional writer

So you have decided you want to play in a particular space, but don’t know where to start!? Paying a professional writer for a couple of days of time to develop and bring together the phrases, style and semantics of the language is a great use of resource. Are sentences long and formal or short and chatty? Does the language soothe the soul or shout in your face?

Tip 3 – Consistency is king

All brand touchpoints (packaging, social media, TV, internal communications, website) should consistently use the same tone of voice. It is often easy to think of a tone of voice for creative communication but then to forget to apply this across all the other touchpoints. Often because multiple agencies are involved who all like to put their own spin on things. Giving a really specific and detailed guide will help guarantee the consistency.

Tip 4 – Don’t fake it

Choose a tone of voice that reflects your values as a business/brand. There are multiple types of tone of voice and archetypes to choose from. It is much harder to take on a tone that jars with your business and where your brand has come from.

Tip 5 – Use other categories for inspiration

It is useful to see how your direct competitors are talking but we find we get more inspiration from looking at other not related categories. For example, we could look at water brands when we are developing more of a puritanical tone of voice or fashion categories when we are looking at luxury food, etc…

And whilst we are here, we at Brandon recently voted for our top 5 favourite brands tone of voice.  So here they are… (in no particular order)

  1. Yorkshire Tea – If a brand could embody a straight talking  no nonsense Yorkshire person who enjoys a ‘proper brew’ then Yorkshire tea would be that brand. Hat’s off… (we love this one the most as it fits with our principals as an agency!) 
  2. Monty Bojangles – We love the Alice in wonderland quirkiness of this chocolate brand clearly weaved into the packaging design and strapline (curiously moreish) as well as their product descriptors (who doesn’t want Scrumple Nutty!).
  3. Method - Look Good: Do Better - The Innocent of household. The category codes in household were very stale for so long and Method completely broke the rules. Their design is simple and stripped back but  also gives a small nod to their playful nature and their website is beautiful! Did you ever envisage a time when cleaning products would become a status product…?
  4. Brewdog – Before everyone else was trying to do it, Brewdog really owned that rebellious/anti convention tone of voice… The brand seems to have toned this down more of late as it matures and the category around it changes but it is still the original anti-establishment brand and being the first matters!
  5. Magnum – Lots of brands play in luxury and pleasure but we feel like Magnum do this in a very simple way that is 360 degrees consistent from the brand ‘crack’ of the chocolate, the borrowed ‘perfume/fashion’ codes feel of the copy and the activations such as the Magnum Pleasure Store pop ups (watch the video and drool!)