Finding Your Brandâs Tone of Voice: The Doâs and Donâts | DMA

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Finding Your Brandâs Tone of Voice: The Doâs and Donâts


By Hannah Williams

Why tone of voice is important:

  • Enhances customer experience:
    Drives culture, community and conversation.
  • Humanises our brand:
    Showing off a personality reminds our audience that humans are behind the company or Twitter account.
  • Encourages interaction:
    Writing conversationally invites customers to get involved in our brand.
  • Creates a consistent brand image:
    Uniformity across the way we communicate, strengthens the core values we’re trying to portray, which makes our brand image more consistent.
DO get to know your audience

As comms professionals, we know how important it is to understand our audience in order to target our outreach appropriately. The same applies with tone of voice. Just like in real life, we should adapt our communication style to who we are talking to. For example, if we’re STA Travel and our main clients are gap year students, we’ll want to be less formal and more laid back than if we’re communicating with corporate professionals.

Whilst we probably have a good idea of who our target market is, digging deeper into the age, gender, interests and professions in order to build a full profile will provide further insights that we can then use to build an appropriate tone of voice. How do we do this? Analyse client data, create surveys and use media monitoring. We can use a media monitoring tool such as Meltwater Engage to track the demographics of each social platform.

media monitoring

DO create a brand personality

Conveying a personality makes a brand more likeable and approachable. Consider the following questions:

  • What makes our brand unique?
  • What do we stand for?
  • What kind of culture do we promote within the brand?
  • Who is our audience?

Taking these answers on board, we can decide on what unique qualities we want to portray through our communications. Based on these qualities, we can devise strategies around how to communicate them. This article is packed full of ways to shape your tone of voice.

Consider Innocent Drinks – their unique tone of voice is notorious in the marketing world. They use an informal, light-hearted tone and often post quirky puns and blog posts. One reason why Innocent’s tone of voice is so successful, is because it is authentic. Being quirky and humourous is part of their company culture and how the company began.

Dan Germain- Innocent’s Head of Creative, is an inspiration when it comes to branding and helping companies develop their own tone of voice. Read an interview with him on tone of voice here and give him a follow on twitter.

Creating a brand voice chart can be helpful for understanding how our unique qualities can be implemented in tone of voice. See this example by the Content Marketing Institute.

media monitoring

DON’T be too cheesy

A word of caution though, if we are appealing to a young or laid-back audience, trying to be ‘down with the kids’ may come across as cheesy or inauthentic. Whilst in certain situations there’s nothing wrong with the odd emoji or meme, sending a tweet full of emoticons and slang may stop us from being taken seriously. For more about how brands can use emojis see our blog.

DO keep it conversational

Whilst this goes against everything we were told at school, write as though you’re directly talking to your customer. Writing conversationally will boost engagement because it has personality and human qualities behind it. It should also increase readership.

DON’T forget that tone can be wrongly interpreted

It can happen to the best of us, we send an ironic or sarcastic text, and the receiver misinterprets it differently. Brits are notoriously sarcastic, but it can be difficult to detect sarcasm in a tweet or Facebook post. This could leave us in a very sticky situation, especially if the interpretation of the message causes offense or leads to incorrect information processing.

DO adapt your tone of voice based on the reason why you’re communicating

Moderating our brand’s tone of voice depending on the situation is important. We can still be authentic while adapting how much we push our brand’s personality. If we’re handling complaints or important information, a more formal tone is important. If we’re sharing general conversation and links to content, we can be a bit more informal. Finally, when pushing a competition, event or sharing good news, we can play with our language even more. Showing off our brand’s personality can attract attention and yield greater buzz – a meme or emoji may be appropriate in this kind of situation.

DON’T use jargon

Abbreviations and industry talk may come naturally to us, however, we should avoid using jargon in external comms as not everyone will understand the terminology. As a rule of thumb, just keep language as simple and unambiguous as possible.

DO measure your success

So, now we have a tone of voice that is being implemented across all of our comms. Now it’s time to measure whether people are responding to it in the way that we had hoped? Social media monitoring can help us understand how the public has engaged with our brand overtime. We recommend tracking six months of social engagements and analysing whether engagement has increased and also whether the engagement is positive or negative. We can benchmark our social media channels before and after implementing a new tone of voice using a media monitoring tool to assist us.

To wrap it up:
  • Write conversationally
  • Keep language simple and easy to understand
  • Consider your brand’s key values, convey them through tone of voice
  • Be aware that your tone can be misinterpreted
  • Understand your audience
  • Use media monitoring to measure your success

Want to know more about how media monitoring can be used to improve customer experience? Drop us an email

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