Great branding is all about telling a compelling story that finds common ground and emotional connection with your target audience.
It’s easy to assume branding is all about the visual elements like your logo, colour palette or photography. But brand associations come through all consumer touch-points – such as how you operate, your visual identity, employees, customer service, your values and ethics and your marketing content. All these associations combine to enable consumers to remember your brand instantly when making a purchasing decision. How you write content – across all your marketing channels – plays a pivotal role in establishing your brand voice and finding that connection. In this post, we look at how to develop your tone of voice and content to make people feel a positive connection with your brand.
Tone of Voice
Your brand’s tone of voice informs all written copy: whether it’s your website, blog, brochures, emails, social media posts, advertising or packaging. The art of defining a tone of voice for your brand starts with identifying the core values that are unique to your business. Ask yourself:
- Which values will help you achieve your mission?
- What values do you display internally and externally?
- What values resonate with your target audience?
- What motivates your employees?
Identifying your values will help to develop a consistent character and personality for your brand, such as: honest, trustworthy, professional, friendly, fun, reliable, passionate, cutting-edge or proud. Once you have identified three core values (in the context of your vision and mission) you can start to define your tone of voice through choosing the vocabulary and content that will best express your brand personality, highlight points of difference and build trust.
Here we can see how tone of voice quickly encapsulates two well-known skincare brands:
Soap & Glory – We’re a fun, fresh, fearless, fantastic British beauty brand. Soap & Glory recommends applying products with happiness and abandon, because while beauty absolutely matters, it doesn’t matter absolutely.
Dermalogica – developed by The International Dermal Institute – When Dermalogica meets skin, skin health is redefined. For over 25 years, we’ve been dedicated to delivering skin health results through education, innovation, and professional recommendation, not through sparkly packaging, promises of miracle cures, or overblown hype.
The Soap & Glory tone of voice is light-hearted and funny, while Dermalogica is rooted in science, innovation and research. These different tones of voice and the vocabulary used will ultimately appeal to the different target audiences of each brand. Written content is a valuable way of complementing a striking visual identity and getting your brand message across. It’s important to write copy that shapes your brand promise and connects with customers by radiating your brand personality, by telling real stories and by making them worth sharing!
To illustrate how we’d define a tone of voice, here’s one we wrote for a client of ours – Monarch – a business energy and utilities consultancy:
How we sound
Monarch is knowledgeable, professional and passionate. We speak clearly in a warm but professional tone. We’re hard working, offer exceptional customer service and work as a team towards the same goal. Our customer service is based on three key principles: Honesty, Efficiency and Integrity.
How we write
Our tone is to the point, approachable and professional. We keep it simple and avoid using unnecessary jargon. We use clear calls to action to motivate and direct our customers.
Telling your Brand Story
Once you have identified your tone of voice, it provides a strong guide for copywriting and content development to strengthen brand associations. It’s important to consider how your customers talk about your products or services, what type of content your target audience wants and what they are likely to share. So how do you best harness, generate, influence and control these associations in people’s minds to help your business perform better? By telling great stories!
The best brands tell a story. And stories stick because they enable your audience to make associations through emotional connections – without that you become forgettable. In their book, Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, Chip and Dan Heath talk about what makes an idea sticky. Essentially, branding is about making an idea stick in the minds of consumers and regular stories are a crucial component of this. They use this acronym which makes all great ideas “sticky”:
S = Simple – get to the core of the message/idea.
U = Unexpected – add a twist to it – challenge the expected norm
C = Concrete – scientific or factual information
C = Credible – talk about your experience / track record
E = Emotional
S = Story-driven – focus on encapsulating the entire idea into a story
Stories are particularly useful when you have complex information to convey. When developing a story for your brand, there are four important questions to consider:
- Is this personal to my audience?
- What emotions will it evoke?
- Does it highlight a challenge or issue?
- Does it describe how the challenge or issue will be overcome?
Finally, once you (or your copywriter) has written a piece of content, review it to check the right tone of voice comes across, whether it reflects the character and personality of your organisation and whether it is telling your true brand story.
Sign up to our newsletter today for more branding resources.