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Finding Your Voice: How to Define Your Brand’s Tone for Advertising

How do you make your business stand out?

Sure, you’ve got stellar products. You’ve already done your market research and devised a brilliant campaign. You even know the message you want to send but aren’t quite sure how to pull it off.

That’s where your brand tone comes in. Brand tone embodies your brand’s personality and set of values. If your market is overcrowded, it’s also the only thing that will set you apart from the competition.

Gillette razors, for instance, introduced their slogan, “The Best a Man Can Get,” to take over 54% of the razor market. You can think of their slogan as the epidemy of their brand tone.

The sections below outline the methods that expert ad agencies use to create epic brand tones. When you’re ready to create the perfect brand for your marketing campaign, read on.

Brand Voice Vs Brand Tone

If you’re a little confused about the difference between voice and tone, you’re not alone. These two parts of your brand are similar and there’s a little overlap.

In general, your brand voice will describe your company’s personality. Your voice should be consistent and unchanging unless your company undergoes rebranding.

Your brand tone, on the other hand, is the emotional inflection you apply to your brand voice. It changes depending on the context.

Consider the following example: your company is creating a social media post and a breaking news post. For the social media post, you need something light-hearted and funny. For the breaking news post, you need something more serious.

Your voice stays the same in both, but your word choices vary. Those word choices are directly linked to your tone. You may choose to use words like “ginormous” and “chilling out” in the social media post because they’re light-hearted slang. But you’d probably replace them with “colossal” and “hanging out” in the breaking news post because it’s more formal.

You can learn more about spicing up your boring ad copy at any number of online websites. The key is to first settle on your brand voice. Be sure to test out 5 to 7 different types before you settle on the one that best suits your company.

Avoid Common Pitfalls

Here’s how to avoid the most common campaign pitfalls and email marketing blunders. Don’t curse or use provocative language in your marketing materials. Sure, they’re the easiest methods to use to get an emotional response out of your audience. They’re also the easiest types of tone to mess up.

Tone is a subtle tool. When you default to curses and sexual innuendo, it’s a bit like showing up on your first date wearing a wedding dress. It’s too much too soon and likely to scare off your prospect.

How to Create Your Brand Voice

Your brand voice is a nebulous thing. It’s easy to identify but impossible to describe. If you want to define it clearly for your marketing manager or copywriter, start with the following.

Gather the marketing materials you already have. That includes things like videos, web content, images, and podcasts. Once you have them all in a single place, separate them into two piles:

  1. Unique
  2. Could have come from a competitor

Now take a closer look at the unique materials. What is it that makes them original? Does that originality match up with how you want customers to see your company and its products?

Discard everything that doesn’t meet that requirement. What’s left over? Do you see any common themes or trends? Write them down before you move on to the next section.

Your Voice in 3 Words

Now, use the material from the last section to help you further define your voice. Think in broad strokes.

For this next part, we recommend you use a whiteboard and perform the next steps with people you trust. Make sure everyone is familiar with the materials in question.

First, pick the top 10 best examples. Next, come up with three words that best describe each example. Don’t worry, they shouldn’t be the same words. You’ll find plenty of variety.

Afterward, count the number of each word used. Did some materials use the same or similar words? If not the same word, did they at least have common themes?

Could any of those words be used to describe your competitor’s voice? If so, take note. Such words may detract from your end goal. You’ll have to reevaluate when you finish the steps laid out in this section.

Now, from your shortlist, pick out the three words that you think best describe the brand voice you’re going for. Try to use broad traits, like passionate, honest, or quirky.

Now break down each of these words further. Think about how these characteristics might show up in your communication with your audience:

  • Passionate: enthusiastic, action-oriented, heartfelt, expressive.
  • Honest: humble, to-the-point, sincere
  • Quirky: Jovial, built for nerds, fearless

Make Your Chart

It’s time to break down your choice words by using a chart. When you build the chart, make 4 columns. They should include the following:

  • Voice characteristics
  • Description
  • Do
  • Don’t

The first two are self-explanatory. You can fill those in yourself. Use the “Do” and “Don’t” columns to flesh out exactly how each of those words should be used.

This chart is something you can hand to your copywriter or marketer for a reference. It’ll help them understand your voice and ensure their work follows the same script.

Finishing with Tone

Now that you have your chart, your tone is the easy step. Think of your chart as a filter. It’ll limit the types of word choices and language that’ll end up in your final copy.

Remember, your tone is a situational device. You must adjust your tone for each piece of material you create. Start by defining your audience.

Who will that material land in front of? If it’s your church group, refrain from using foul language. If it’s your school board, focus on language that’s kid-centered or education-centered.

This is your second filter. Your first filter defines the type of language that best describes your company. The second filter further segments this language.

After that, it’s just a matter of using simple copywriting principles. Once you have them in place, you’ll create tone appropriate materials that customers love.

What’s Next?

Now that you’ve learned all about brand tones, it’s time to put that information to use. Start by pinning down your brand voice. You can’t do anything without it.

Then figure out where these materials will be used. With those two filters in place, write 5 different versions of your copy. And there you have it. You’ve just discovered your tone.

Don’t forget to browse our library of other brilliant business-related articles. So long and good luck!