What is Tone of Voice?

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September 2021

People talk a lot about tone of voice, but what does it actually mean? And how does it benefit your business? Let's break it down.

A guide to tone of voice

Think about how a close friend talks to you. Are they loud or quiet? Do they talk quickly or slowly? Do they wave their hands around when they’re speaking? Do they use big words? What other mannerisms do they have?


All of these things come together to project someone’s personality. They’re all kind of unique identifiers for your friend. From the way your friend communicates, you might then come to certain conclusions about the type of person they are.


Tone of voice is the same. It’s all about how you project your personality through written and spoken communication. Consider the following examples:

Tone of voice examples


You’ll see that all of these examples communicate similar things, but you come away from each one with a different impression of the company. 


Sadly, though, you’re unlikely to remember the tone of voice of a company after just one example like this. In reality, creating and reinforcing a tone of voice that people recognise takes time.


That means as a company, your tone of voice has to be consistent throughout all of your communication channels - your website, emails, app, catalogue, product, blog, social media posts - all of them. Deciding on a tone of voice is one thing, making it stick is another thing entirely. It’s a long-term job that requires time and dedication. 


So why go to all the effort of doing it, then? At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be worth it. But in reality, there are loads of reasons why companies spend lots of time and money crafting their own, unique tone of voice.

Why a company needs their own tone of voice

1. A unique tone of voice can make your company stand out

Think about some companies that you have regular interactions with. You might be on their mailing list, you might follow them on social media, you might buy their product every week, you might use their app every day. 


Just like you can identify the mannerisms of a close friend, you can probably identify the mannerisms of these companies. If you can, that means they’re doing their job right. They stand out from the crowd. You remember them, and remember the way they communicate with you. Their tone of voice is memorable and unique.


Making your company stand out in the clusterfuck of online content is harder than ever before. You don’t actually have many chances to differentiate yourselves from competitors - apart from the tone of voice you employ. Nail that, and you’ve got a serious advantage over them.

2. It can help you achieve company objectives

Look back at our Keto Drinks tone of voice example earlier in the piece. A company like that could employ a specific tone of voice to help them achieve company objectives. How? Well, let’s say they’re looking to expand into a new market. They might want to project themselves as a large, ambitious organisation with a reputation to withhold. That would project a sense of confidence and ambition to their (potential) new customers. It would build trust in them.


If they were to give the sense that they’re a small, local, family-run business, it might not give their (potential) new customers much confidence in them. After all, they would be an unknown name in a new market, and the family-friendly schtick might not wash. Sometimes, it’s all about how you’re perceived by the other party. Tone of voice can shape that perception.

3. Understand your tone of voice, understand your company

As we just touched on, employing a certain tone of voice can help you achieve your company objectives. But it can also help you define your company objectives. 


Let’s say you’re a business that operates in a crowded market - the insurance industry. You’ve looked at the rest of your competitors to see where you can gain a competitive advantage over them. But here’s the problem: your services are pretty much the same. You insure the same things. They’re bigger than you, and so you can’t really undercut them on price. So how are you going to convince people to choose you over them?


You’ve noticed that they all employ a stale, corporate tone of voice with plenty of industry jargon. It feels almost designed to confuse the customer into signing up for insurance deals that they don’t want or need. 


You want to be different. You decide to cut the jargon and employ a simple, friendly, direct tone of voice. But more than that. You decide instead to simplify everything. You focus on a smooth user experience, a simplified list of services, an uncomplicated pricing structure, no hidden fees. Instead of trying to compete with them on price, you’ve decided to compete with them in other areas.


Now it’s all starting to make sense. Your service is simple. It’s uncomplicated. So is your tone of voice. Your company and its tone of voice are perfectly in sync. This enforces an even stronger brand personality and gives you a unique offering within a crowded marketplace. And it was only possible because you started thinking about tone of voice.

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In case you were wondering, we help companies shape their own tone of voice - and make themselves stand out from competitors in the process. If you’re interested in growing your business through a totally unique tone of voice, get in touch at hello@bigbangcopy.co.

P.S. Free consultation for anyone who can identify The Simpsons character in the image at the top of the blog. No cheating.


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