One of the most underrated aspects of marketing is a brand’s tone of voice. In many ways, this is the most important part of selling a product in the modern age, given how spoilt for choice most consumers are.
For example, if somebody wants to buy a cheeseburger, they have a wide range of choices; McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy’s, 5 Guys and plenty of other options will likely be within easy reach of them, especially if they live in a big city. So how do they make their decision? The research suggests it’s to do with their brand’s identity and tone of voice.
For example, 88% of customers say the experience a company provides is as crucial as its products or services, and 64% of consumers around the world said that they would buy from a brand or boycott it based on its political or social stance on an issue. This means a business’ identity holds a lot of weight, particularly when the quality of their products isn’t far removed from their competitors’.
But what exactly is brand voice and why is it important? And how do you use tone of voice to build a reputation as a brand you can trust? One key piece of advice is not to blend in with the crowd, and that’s exactly what these eight companies with unique brand voices have managed to do.
Defining brand voice
Brand voice is the distinct personality and character that brand projects through its communication channels, including social media platforms, website, advertising and other marketing materials. It's the consistent tone, style and messaging that run throughout all branding efforts and reflects the company's values and mission statement.
A strong and consistent brand voice is crucial for creating recognition and trust in a highly competitive market and should be uniform across all platforms. It can be emotional, inspiring, or direct as long as it resonates with the target audience
The importance of brand voice
The importance of brand voice lies in the fact that it allows businesses to convey their unique personality and message to their target market. By establishing a consistent and authentic brand voice, companies can differentiate themselves from their competitors, build trust with their customers, and create a sense of recognition that can lead to increased brand loyalty and organic traffic.
A strong brand voice can also help businesses effectively communicate their values, mission and vision, which can be particularly important for companies that prioritize social responsibility or sustainability and ultimately help them achieve their goals.
8 creative and strong tone of voice examples to inspire you
This fast-food chain is the go-to example for brand tone of voice, and for good reason: it’s used Twitter to cultivate a savage personality that has won customers over. Take a look at these tweets:
Notice anything? They’re directly criticizing their competitors, but not in a way that feels petty or mean. They’ve clearly cultivated a specific sense of humour that pokes fun, but in a playful way. The fun part is that they even go as far as to poke fun at potential customers:
Some customers even welcome Wendy’s insults, showing how successful this branding has been. Of course, it only works because fast food isn’t seen as a particularly ‘serious’ business. Other brands definitely wouldn’t be able to get away with the same thing!
Mailchimp places a high value on the importance of voice and tone in creating empowering content. The company believes that it is more important to be clear than entertaining, but it aims to have a compassionate and conversational tone while being plainspoken, genuine and serving as a translator of difficult concepts.
Although it is a B2B SaaS platform, the company strikes a balance between being amusing and informal, without being too bland or boring. It avoids using passive voice, slang and jargon, and prioritizes positive language. What's more, Mailchimp's sense of humor is subtle and wry, and it cleverly uses cultural references in its writing.
In the tone of voice section of its website, Mailchimp says that it uses "offbeat humor and a conversational voice" to stand out, playing with language to bring joy to its work. The brand also emphasizes that they don't take themselves too seriously either.
A company that never gets old or left behind, Coca-Cola is still a major leader in the non-alcoholic beverages industry with a brand voice that it has been using for over 100 years, making it a great brand voice example of consistency over time.
Coca-Cola's tone of voice is positive, friendly and down-to-earth, emphasizing concepts of friendship, happiness and joy. The brand's messaging revolves around togetherness and community, with the use of plural pronouns alluding to a united brand front and loyal customers.
Coca-Cola's previous advertising campaigns have focused on promoting the brand's values and what it stands for, with its "Open Happiness" campaign winning numerous awards.
Duolingo is a perfect example of a company that uses social media (notably Twitter) to focus on its personality and stand out from the crowd. They might be a language-learning app, but their social media posts and the type of content they create is funny, witty and creative that no one might guess from their brand voice. In addition, they're great at thinking out of the box, retweeting and engaging with their followers.
Here's a great example that showcases their showcases their humorous tone:
Hubspot's tone of voice is unique in that it is designed to be informative, helpful, and approachable. The messaging is clear and concise, and the tone is conversational and friendly, reflecting the company's commitment to building strong relationships with its customers.
Hubspot's content (Blog posts, videos, reports, infographics) are designed to educate and inform, providing valuable insights and resources to help businesses grow and succeed. The company's tone of voice also reflects its commitment to transparency and authenticity, with a focus on building trust and credibility with its audience.
Because Slack allows third-party creators to add bots to its app, we can see exactly how they view tone of voice in their guidance for bot creators.
This is clearly something the business does itself:
It’s clear and concise, but with small tweaks that make the copy very human. It’s not trying too hard by making things overwhelmingly quirky, it’s just using everyday, conversational language we all recognize. Here’s another example:
There are some very subtle word choices there. For example, using “realm” for email makes it seem old-fashioned, which in turn makes the “gentle nudge” a push in the direction of progress. Overall it’s something you could easily imagine a friend or colleague saying. This brand voice is all over the app itself as well:
If you had to sum up Skittles’ brand identity in a single word, it would be ‘weird’. The company has crafted a distinct personality that’s unlike anything else you’ll see in its industry.
Each of these tweets make use of absurdist humour by juxtaposing stereotypical brand messages put out at different times of year with… well, Skittles. It’s silly, but it creates a distinctive personality for the company. These are accompanied by more impromptu bizarre posts, such as this one:
This fits with a basic principle of this kind of marketing: you don’t necessarily need to highlight your product's benefits, as long as you stick in the minds of potential customers. To put it another way, when someone gets a craving for something sweet as they’re passing a store, one of the first brands they’re going to think of is Skittles. This isn’t necessarily because they’re the best sweets around, but because their tone of voice is incredibly memorable.
British cosmetics brand Dove has built their identity around body positivity and confidence. In an industry where models are generally only one body type, with flawless skin and hair, Dove stands out by highlighting women who don’t fit with this set of beauty standards. It might sound simple, but it’s effective. Here’s the first thing you see on the company’s website:
Part of their #ShowUs campaign, Dove is running to tackle the fact that 72% of women in the UK don’t feel represented in the ads they see. Rather than choosing standard models, the company works with women with skin conditions, women who are older or larger than the industry standard, who are transgender or non-binary models. This attitude comes out in the language they use as well.
Dove makes use of emoticons and emphasis to create a message that’s perhaps more powerful than other brands, and - more importantly - that uses the kind of language its customers use. This makes it more familiar and relatable.