**If you would prefer to just download our brand tone of voice template, scroll to the bottom of the article.**
Writing a brand tone of voice is difficult. It can be as simple as a few sentences in a Word document, or it could be a 100-page+ document that leaves no stone unturned in your search for the perfect tone of voice.
But we reckon those 100-page tomes are probably best left for the biggest businesses out there. And we're going to assume you're not one of those. For most people, the ideal tone of voice document lies somewhere between those two extremes we described.
Let's look at the kind of things you should consider including in a brand tone of voice document.
The elements of a brand tone of voice
The who's, what's and why's
You need to make the point of your style guide clear from the very first word. So first of all, it should answer the following questions as a minimum:
- What is a style guide/tone of voice document?
- What is it used for?
- Why do we need one?
- Who should use this tone of voice document?
This helps to keep your tone of voice clear, concise and centred around a clear aim. Also, this makes sure the right people are reading and using it.
A summary of your tone of voice
Before you get into the specifics, explain your general tone of voice in a few sentences. Use some key words. For example, you could say:
- Our tone of voice is: conversational, personable and knowledgeable. We are not experts. We use our platform to highlight the views of industry experts.
In the subsequent slides, you can expand on this initial definition. For now, it serves as a good introduction to what you're trying to say.
Best practices and things to avoid
Now it's time to get into the specifics. You can start by including some best practices and good examples. Do this by writing out some example sentences in your ideal tone of voice, so people can better understand what you're talking about.
Try contrasting these examples with things to avoid. Write out a few phrases that do not sound like your preferred tone of voice.
Spelling and grammar rules
Alright, now it's time for the real nitty-gritty. Your spelling and grammar rules could include things like:
- Basic rules, such as which form of English you'll be writing in (American? British?)
- How to write numbers (One or 1? 10000 or 10,000?)
- How to write the date and time (April 3rd 1992 or 3rd April 1992?)
- Rules around things like emoji use, the Oxford Comma, and capitalisation of words)
All of these seemingly trivial things can ensure your company's communications are consistent in terms of spelling and grammar.
Channel-specific rules (email, web, social media etc.)
You might also write some specific rules for different channels such as email and social media. For example, you could include some general rules for writing company social media posts. This might include a rough structure for them, a word limit and some examples of good social media posts.
This is particularly useful if, for instance, a lot of staff members have access to the company social media account. Rules like these will keep your social media posts consistent - even if there are plenty of chefs in the kitchen.
A fallback style guide
No matter how much information you include in your brand tone of voice document, there are bound to be some things that you miss out. Luckily for you, the likes of The Guardian and The Chicago Manual of Style are pretty comprehensive style guides that should fill in any blanks. Check them out, decide which works best for your business, and include a link to it in your own style guide.
Not everyone is going to read every word of your tone of voice document. And quite frankly, not everyone needs to read every word. For this reason, it's always a good idea to include a one-page summary of your tone of voice somewhere. Summarise the key points you made throughout the whole document.
Brand tone of voice template
Without further ado, here's a link to our brand tone of voice template. It's part of a pack of copywriting templates that you can use to improve the quality of your work, save loads of time and become more productive.