5 brands setting Tone of Voice standards

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When brands present themselves to customers, consistency is key. It’s not enough to slap a logo at the top of a newsletter or ad – it’s about looking and sounding the same across all kinds of media.

Tone of Voice (TOV) is a big part of any brand identity. It helps them stand out from the competitors, and gives them a unique personality. So it pays to get it right. 

Here are five brands that have nailed their TOV – and what we can learn from them.

 

1. Innocent

When we talk about TOV, Innocent always leads the way. The team have done an outstanding job of crafting a fun, irreverent and engaging tone that resonates across the brand – from advertising to packaging.

Innocent doesn’t have strict brand guidelines, but its tone is based on its business values – and the humour of the company’s founders. Comedy won’t work for every business, but fits so well here because smoothies aren’t super serious. And it helps that the team are clearly funny people.

 

2. Monzo

Banks don’t often talk like people, which is why Monzo stands out from the crowd. The big challenge is sounding serious and trustworthy, without being stuffy or dull. After all, you probably wouldn’t trust the banking app with your money if it was as jokey as Innocent.

Monzo has found the right balance. Its TOV is transparent and welcoming, and it always sounds human – which makes it easier for everyone to understand what it’s saying. The best part is that the team have published the company’s TOV guidelines online – take a look here.

 

3. Slack

From bot messages to blog posts, Slack’s messaging is always clear, light-hearted and user-focused. The team write understandable instructions and helpful advice – and they never leave users wondering what’s going on. 

When you open the app, a loading screen tells you why you’re waiting, and when it redesigned its logo, the team took the time to explain why in a well-written blog post. For an app that offers some complex options, it’s great to see this level of clarity.

 

4. Nike

Fitness companies need to supportive, aspirational and positive. Few do it as well as Nike. A big part of its brand guidelines is that anyone with a body is an athlete, and its mission is to innovation and inspiration to everyone. That means messaging that gets people out of their chairs and helps them achieve something they can be proud of.

By focusing on diversity, community and sustainability, the brand’s messaging does more than just sell sportswear. It supports social and environmental causes – drawing a line in the sand that appeals to its customers.

 

5. Paddy Power

Few businesses could get away with being as mischievous as Paddy Power. Its outrageous campaigns are aimed directly at its biggest customer pool – groups of mates watching sports at the pub. If its ads can get a laugh, customers are more likely to remember the brand when they’re having a flutter.

Paddy Power’s tone pushes things further than any other brand on this list, but it succeeds because it understands its customers. That means jokes that land, and campaigns that appeal to those customers’ interests. Their recent football shirt campaign is a great example.

Getting TOV right

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to building a TOV, but the key is pinpointing your business values. If you’re dealing with something serious, like customers’ money, you need to sound trustworthy and honest. If you’re selling jumpers knitted by grannies, you’re free to have a little fun.

Focus on what you do best. Zero in on the personality of your business (and the people that work there). Then summarise it. Use these as guidelines to frame what you say, and how you say it. 

And remember, tone and voice are two different things. Your voice should always stay the same – a reflection of your values. But your tone can flex depending on the kind copy you’re working on. T&Cs probably aren’t the right place for jokes, after all.