Tone of Voice: Brand Guidelines, Examples
Having a suitable tone of voice guidelines examples for a particular brand is a creative task.
When creating a tone of voice, you also need to think it through.
This is because the tone of voice is an act of establishing a brand in the long run.
A brand voice gives the ʺwhyʺ to the product.
And every brand tends to have their unique and original why
There are many factors that you need to consider when it comes to sitting down and crafting your unique tone of voice for your product.
First things first – making a good first impression.
Table of Contents
Determining the Tone of Voice
How many times did you make an opinion based on a single line or a unique sound?
By merely scrolling through the pages of websites or social media, readers come across numerous brands daily.
All of these brands use a chosen tone and voice when marketing a product.
The brain is wired in such a way that it constructs images and pictures when exposed to content within less than a second.
That’s how quickly the readers are to make a conclusion based on a single line.
For a brand to succeed, marketers use a carefully chosen tone of voice for their brand.
One whole science stands behind the branding.
But when we take into account the number of products out there on the market, it’s clear why.
A whole lot of aspects come into play.
The language, the sentiment that it’s supposed to give out, a final and lasting impression that it’s supposed to leave behind and an image that it advocates.
The Tone and the Voice
A brand voice gives the ʺwhyʺ to the product.
And every brand tends to have their unique and original why.
But even more, the brand sells the people’s work behind it.
A reader experiences the ‘people of the brand’ and the intention the product was created for in the first place.
Here’s where the tone and the voice as combined tools step in.
The voice is a thing that the company stands for.
Therefore, a voice is a quality that relatively stays the same over some time.
By the time the brand acquires certain recognizability on the market, readers are hopefully expected to be familiar with the voice that the brand is sending out to the world.
On the other hand, just like in conversations, the tone of the voice varies from situation to situation.
The sound is dependent on a milieu that’s surrounding it.
However, these two always need to work together.
“The phrase tone of voice refers to the persona your content takes on .ˮ 
Determining the tone of voice brand assembles a real identity for the brand.
And that’s why marketers bother with creating this persona that speaks volumes in the name of the company.
A vital thing to mention here is the fact that the tone of voice must differentiate between various readers.
Developing a Tone of Voice
Developing a tone of voice must be adjusted for a selected target group.
Just like you wouldn’t use the same language with a toddler and a grown-up.
You wouldn’t use the same tone of voice for different target groups.
Hence, the tone of voice is a powerful tool for engaging readers.
The product you’re presenting has its own story.
The goal is to appeal to a specific audience.
So, for example, if the kitchen utensils are what you’re advertising, naturally, the selected crowd for this type of product would be mostly adults.
The tone of voice should then be relatable to the majority of adults, as 99% of people spend a certain amount of time in the kitchen every day.
This includes emphasizing the efficacy and simplicity of the kitchen because that’s what everyone wants.
Relaxed and Neutral Vs. Formal Tone of Voice
So, the tone is supposed to be relaxed and neutral rather than formal.
The voice should be assuring the audience of high-quality performance and be devoted to making one’s everyday kitchen practices easier.
Let’s take the brand Le Creuset as an example.
The slogan of this cookware’s brand reads:
“A recipe for success. ˮ
Keeping in mind that it’s a cookware brand, their motto subtly gives a hint of what they are offering.
A recipe for success may address many things that have Nothing to do with actual food.
Still, it’s evident that here it’s used on purpose.
A recipe and a success put together in one sentence design an uplifting feeling in the minds of readers.
Moreover, when reading the description of the company’s products, the tone of the voice brand in this very case remains subtle and sophisticated.
A cookware La Creuset is selling has a story to tell.
Engaging the readers into the brand via storytelling forms an inspiration to the readers.
Thus, cooking is, in this case, presented as fine art that doesn’t require much.
All you need is just cookware that has been around for generations that gives that welcoming feeling, even outside your home.
With these qualities, the food you make is a pleasure for all the senses.
The tone of voice brand here is warm, relatable, and high-class.
That is considering that it’s a brand with a long tradition and branded cookware.
The selected target group they have in mind are people who are committed to the art of preparing food with an expensive taste.
Taking all of this into account, the tone of the voice brand helps build an impression.
The readers feel attachment through the chosen language.
The point of branding is to deliver:
- A clear message
- To form an emotional connection between the person and the product
Forging the Tone and the Story (The Whys)
Getting to the essence of the subject makes one wonder why do they need to put effort into finding suitable words for a product.
The answer is simple: everything has its own story.
The art of storytelling is present all around.
People tell their stories in the most diverse way there is.
And branding is no exception.
Forging the compatible tone and story around a product consists of exploring the intention that stands behind the product.
Here are some potential inquiries that may help:
- Why is this product better than the other?
- What values does this brand bring and contribute to?
- What will the buyer get out of it?
Oftentimes, people mistake the real meaning of branding.
It’s not only a product you’re offering.
It’s not only a product that people are buying.
People buy ideas, creations, words, the effort invested in a product.
The road between the content you’re offering, and the people who identify with it depends on fulfilling the right whys.
Approaching the Readers
As already mentioned above, the selected language is a powerful tool to attract a specified group of readers.
Having that in mind, there’s a distinction between formal and informal language.
When one knows who one is addressing, i.e., the target group, one can easily adjust the voice.
It is easy to assume you want a down-to-earth chatty style with an odd bit of humor.
But is this really what your customers want?
Work out how you feel about language by mulling over this consideration. ˮ 
Resonating Requires Thinking about the Context
- How formal is the selected group you’re targeting?
- Is it formal at all?
- And is the slang acceptable as a part of the informal language?
The tone of the voice must correspond with the natural flow of words.
Or to simply explain it, just expressing the brand’s idea like in an ordinary conversation.
Depending on the product and the targeted group, the tone of voice could be:
- Fun, and so on
However, the usage of the language here is only one of the many.
Marketing requires language as a tool.
Marketing represents one specific linguistic situation in which we may find ourselves.
So, language as a medium is one unifying mechanism that covers numerous linguistic situations.
Whatever the topic may be, the way we talk will stay the same.
The naturalness is expected in whichever tone of voice has been elected.
Another meaningful thing to add here:
As necessary, it takes more than the word choice and strategic implementation into the linguistic situation to click with readers.
Picking out a selected wording that’s supposed to generate a successful formula could oppose to the flow in the tone of voice.
As already mentioned, to relate with the readers, branding needs involving in readers’ everyday lives.
Brands and their Tones of Voice
As the first example, let’s consider Adidas’s tone of voice.
Adidas is one of the most famous global corporations.
The company began as a shoe manufacturer.
During its augmentation, the number of products expanded to sportswear, clothing, sports bags, swimwear, etc.
Still, Adidas is perceived as a sports brand.
Impossible is Nothing.
The most memorable Adidas slogan.
All it takes is three words combined with grammatical construction, or to simply say inversion.
English speaker is used to the phrase: Nothing is impossible.
That’s a fixed phrase one’s ear used to.
How many times did everyone hear these words of reassurance before?
Not that encouragement is not worth repeating.
But a phrase repeated way too often turns into a worn-out expression deprived of feeling.
However, Adidas played with language to create their slogan and make it stand out.
It can be considered many things, but not at all worn-out or deprived of feeling.
On the contrary, this slogan is like a driving force.
By saying that impossible is Nothing, the emphasis is moved to the insignificance of anything that may stand on one’s way to achieving goals.
By enforcing this kind of twist in the language, the company inspires its targeted group to strive towards their ambitions.
Adidas’s target group is active people ranging from professional athletes to ordinary people doing sport as a hobby.
Motivational Tone of Voice
The brand’s words are motivational.
They’re inviting people to keep moving.
By reaching out to hear customers through digital technologies, Adidas allows itself to keep growing.
Here’s another example of the importance of communicating with the readers.
Different companies aim at different people, and then the selected tone of voice follows.
As an example of a quirky tone of voice, there’s an Italian clothing brand Diesel.
Although a distinctive fashion brand, the one thing that individuates this brand is precisely the tone of voice they play throughout the years.
There’re many examples to look at here.
One of them is: “Go with the flaw.”
This kind of wordplay displays how much of a broad space the language allows us to play with.
Diesel’s attitude towards marketing is highly unconventional.
Weird, Controversial, Transparent Tone of Voice
Hence the tone of voice is weird.
It’s safe to say it’s controversial and even very transparent.
And it’s not for everyone.
This tone and voice show how thinking outside of the box really looks like when it comes to marketing and aiming at a selected group.
So, no lawyer or businessman would go for this brand.
Presumably, this is a brand for artists, for those who love to stand out and for the unbothered.
For anyone who isn’t afraid to make bold statements through authentic style.
Addressing the readers with this kind of tone and voice filters the audience.
Go with the flaw” accompanied different approaches to the visual manifestation of the brand.
They did this by hiring models that 99% of other fashion brands wouldn’t consider.
As the parole mentions flaw, it’s clear that something will be peculiar about that campaign.
Diesel has proven itself to be brave, distinctive, authentic, and quirky.
One couldn’t expect to see formal or technical language in the spirit of Diesel’s tone of voice.
On the contrary, informal language or even slang would be in accord with the brand.
Since it’s controversial, this brand calls for wordplays, alteration, and invocation of meaning.
Another one of their slogans goes: “Be stupid.”
At first glance, it will stir up a reaction in everyone.
And that’s precisely the point.
What kind of motto is that?
Shocking and Audacious Tone of Voice
It’s shocking and audacious at the same time.
This is because of the explicitness that it brings out.
It goes even further with the following addition: “Smart may have the brains, but stupid has the balls.”
Provoking and uncensored, this kind of advertising calls for doublethink.
If different is what one is aspiring to be, Diesel is a champion in that category.
On a different note, the companies don’t always deliver the stories to connect readers with a product.
Sometimes it’s the living things.
Let’s take an example of that.
PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
Now, marketing doesn’t always serve the purposes of selling.
In this case, for instance, it is to raise awareness.
PETA is very famous, both for its cause and for its well-known tone of voice.
Alongside with their love for animals, this organization has been active for quite some time.
And with a rising number of people going vegan or vegetarian, it is clear that PETA has done some job to influence the minds of the global audiences.
Whether one owns a pet of not, it’s impossible not to feel compassion towards animals.
However, PETA’s ton of voice might be debatable.
Without a doubt, the cause behind the messages is a good and a noble one.
Provocative and Radical Tone of Voice
The way a person delivers his message will determine how he will provoke his audiences.
PETA here is having it both ways.
Sometimes the fight for the cause through the chosen tone of voice is just a bit too much.
Combined with visual content, this organization can be very radical at times.
This leads to the counter effect.
Instead of feeling empathy and building an emotional bond with the audiences, PETA does, so that many former supporters retreat from supporting the cause and disregarding initial thought.
Few of their campaigns provoked lawsuits and protests against PETA.
That kind of striking tone of voice annihilates the recipients of their content.
It’s hard to stay indifferent towards this kind of attitude in the tone of their voice.
Not all publicity is good publicity.
PETA’s voice has been thunderous.
The number of people supporting the cruelty-free movement did increase.
PETA did contribute to raising awareness about animal treatment.
It went in different directions, from promoting veganism to condemning the fashion and cosmetics industry for using animals.
Some of their slogans were :
- “Fur is not fair.”
- “Fake for the animal’s sake.”
These are brilliant.
On the other hand, ones speaking in the name of veganism make for a distressing reaction.
The tone of the voice is harsh and over the top sometimes.
Lastly, this is an example of brutally overdone and robust language that has a mission to act as a wake-up call for humanity.
Professional, Sophisticated Tone of Voice
Another kind of tone of voice that there is is a professional, sophisticated one.
This in itself secludes the crowd the product’s aimed at.
One of the brands worth mentioning is Visa.
Everyone’s heard of Visa at least once.
For the most part, Visa was recognized under the slogan: “Everywhere you want to be.”
After a significant amount of time, this coherent expression was replaced.
But it’s still in the minds of people.
There’s not much to ponder upon when one reads a message like this.
And yet, it says it all.
Maybe way more than one full paragraph would.
Everywhere means literally in the world.
Having a visa card by your side means no limits, no matter how far or wide you wish to go.
Being a sort of brand like Visa is, requires this type of tone.
Very clear and uncomplicated.
Everywhere you want to be is a freedom-giving potential that attracts.
The tone of voice in this expression conceives a thought unit that sparks the imagination.
The imagination that all of that is packed inside of a little card.
Minimalistic and Efficient Tone of Voice
And these qualities never go out of fashion when it comes to people.
Visa’s tone of voice underlines how the big tasks can be completed with little effort.
Later on, another phrase steps in.
And this time it’s even more minimalistic: “More people go with Visa.”
Now, the picture changed.
It’s not about imagination and limitless options, no matter where you go.
Confident Tone of Voice
It’s an earned trust being displayed through a slogan.
If more people go with Visa, there must be a reason for that, right?
This now is a tone of voice that intrigues instead of sparking the imagination.
Nothing too extensive, it’s neutral voice and expression’s suggestive.
While Visa grew to see its corporation expand globally, it’s highly due to resonating through selected language that they embodied and fine-tuned.
After going through the given examples, one can see that the tone of the voice brand can be all sorts of things.
It’s up to the creativity and imagination of marketers.
Drafting the unique voice of the brand that best resonates with the readers comes from an understanding.
The one thing that each ambitious brand has in common is consistency.
At least, that’s what the time has shown for all the large and successful ones.
But consistency doesn’t mean stubbornness or dismissiveness.
It applies to the voice a brand carries out.
Having the ability to accept the need for change in the tone of the brand’s voice, especially if it comes as feedback from the readers will very likely contribute to an even better relationship with the readers.
In the end, it’s all meaningless without the audiences that the product is presented to.
Appreciating your targeted group is ultimately investing in the future of the brand.
It creates mutual respect.
Charmed audiences will know to value the appreciation.
And when feeling appreciated, the respect will be given where respect is due.
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