Tone of voice

Brand language that’s true

When you’re looking at how you’re talking to your customers, it helps to take a step back and separate out the different strands of how your brand is expressed verbally.

Tone of voice, strictly speaking, is simply your style of language.

Tone is the way you say something. You can say the same message in many different ways i.e. in many different tones. Each has a different impact on the reader or listener.

Tone of voice is often used as short-hand to mean brand language.

But it’s helpful to recognise that the two phrases mean different things. Brand language is the umbrella term covering your values, tone of voice and brand essence, all wrapped up neatly in an easy-to-digest brand story.

With the right ‘brand story’ in place, your target audiences can understand you, believe you, trust you – and act on this.

Truth is, sometimes, clients don’t need a different tone to others. What they need are different brand messages to express to their audiences. They need to tell a story that makes sense and connects. It’s about creating a gut feeling. If it feels right, people respond.

Other times, clients in the same sector need different tones as well as different messages. Take, for example, the copy I wrote for two very different 5 star hotels in London, located about half a mile apart. One was The Athenaeum in Mayfair. The other was the Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge. The essence of the Athenaeum’s brand is welcoming, informal and personal… ‘Your London home’. Whereas, Bulgari is all about prestige. They wanted the copy to feel more like editorial, so I wrote the copy in the third person while still making it appealing and welcoming. Both needed elevated diction – educated language – to appeal to the right audience.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 21.06.24

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 17.50.06

Depending on your situation, your tone of voice – style of copy – may need to be similar or different to your competitors. But your brand language will always be different. Dig deep enough and you will always have a different story to tell about what you offer. Pitched at the right volume level, together these are why your customer will choose you over another, donate to you rather than another charity, and so on. Their decision will be part rational, part emotional, largely unconscious and may take place in seconds. That’s why it’s so important to get your story right.

The brand story process

Each context is unique but, typically, I run a workshop to define the key ingredients for your brand story. Many clients find that using an ‘outsider’ also helps to achieve internal consensus over messages and tone.

The results are distilled into your unique Brand Story. This short, internal document contains your brand promise and key messages. And it’s all written in your tone of voice. 

It’s the foundation for all your internal and external-facing communications.

Clients often commission web copy, brochure copy or other marketing collateral. I can also train your staff to adopt the new tone of voice.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 15.05.12
Brand language for Fletcher’s Cottage Spa at Archerfield

So far, I’ve delivered Brand Story workshops for clients in Edinburgh, Glasgow and London. I’m happy to come to you, wherever you are in the world.

Please get in touch to start a conversation about how I could help.

“We approached Liz to work with us at a monumental stage in our history as we changed our name from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. The change was introduced to reflect the range of disciplines we offer but more importantly to underpin our position as one of the world’s leading providers of professional training in the performance arts. Liz worked with us at every step, working with staff and students through a series of brand messaging workshops to develop our brand story and really pull together who and what we are and how we communicate that internally and externally.
The end result has been far more than the obvious outputs of web copy and print – it has been the catalyst for a sea change in the way we think about ourselves and has firmly consolidated our ambitious plans for the future.
Fiona DuncanMarketing DirectorThe Royal Conservatoire of Scotland 

Liz, what you have accomplished with my website copy has been utterly transformative. I needed cohesive, rich, emotionally engaging copy that would speak to the luxury travel market…and you delivered!  Thank you for your keen insight, creativity and flexibility during this process.  Working with you was a breeze, despite the fact we’re thousands of miles away.  I’d happily recommend your services to anyone in a heartbeat.

Brandon Perkins, B|Panache Luxury Travel, Los Angeles