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Patrick Woodhead

Interested in Design, Mathematics, Cryptography. Contributing writer for Evening Standard, Hackernoon, The Startup. Founder of Pilcro

Tone & Voice: The Overlooked Components in Brand Guidelines

For many people, when they think of brand identity and brand guidelines, all that is brought to mind is the company logo and a few colours. But these are such a small part of the whole “brand story”.

One constituent of a brand identity that often gets overlooked is tone & voice.

Tone & Voice

Notice that I have avoided saying tone of voice. I have kept tone and voice separate on purpose. They refer to different concepts when it comes to your brand identity. But what is the difference? For a one-line answer, let’s ask Mailchimp.

You[r company should] have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. — MailChimp

Or for a more poetic description:

Voice is to climate as tone is to weather. — Kevin Potts

Essentially, your company has the same voice in all situations, regardless of the audience. Or at least, on average, across all communication and marketing channels, it has the same voice.  However, your tone changes depending on who you are talking to.

Let’s have a look at some examples.

Voice
  1. Warm, conversational and witty yet also knowledgeable and authoritative.

  2. Funny and sharp, but not arrogant or over-the-top.

  3. Informal and friendly whilst remaining professional.

Tone
  1. This email to our blog subscribers needs to sound humble and engaging.

  2. This copy of this tweet needs to shock, entertain and intrigue people in the middle of our marketing funnel.

  3. This speech at the conference needs to sound serious and authoritative.

Why are tone and voice so important?

Think about a brand which has a bit of fun with its voice, for example, Innocent Drinks. Their brand identity is so strong across all of their packaging and comms. This is down to a combination of their logo, colours, tone and voice. 

Now think about your bank. When they need to send you an important message related to your online banking, their tone is authoritative and serious. There is no space for humour when it comes to your money. 

Yet, when you see an advert for a bank on television, the tone is friendly and welcoming.

These are two very different tones but, overall, a bank’s voice aims to be serious and dependant, yet friendly at the same time.

It is so important to always be aware of the tone and voice of your company in the copy you broadcast, so that you connect with your audience in the right way.

Manage your tone and voice in Pilcro

Once you have established your company’s tone and voice, managing them can be very difficult. It is very easy for the personality of a member of your team to shout over the voice of your brand.

Pilcro can help. In a Pilcro Artboard, there is a section called snippets. Here you can store all the key pieces of boilerplate copy from which you want your team to start writing copy. 

You can store all the key hashtags, adjectives, and one-liners that you want to appear time and again in your marketing material.

What’s more, if you are pulling together a press or media kit in Pilcro, you can store all those key paragraphs about your team, your product and your vision.

In short, the snippets/copy part of your Pilcro Artboard can store all the ingredients for your marketing team to bake a brand cake, flavoured with your company’s voice and iced with the right tone for your current audience!

What is Pilcro? Pilcro is free brand management software for G-Suite. Check it out here.

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