When you think of branding, you probably think of colors, logos, taglines and more. But before you can define your brand’s design elements, you have to define your brand’s tone.
Every element of your brand will embody the tone that you set. For example, fun, light and cheerful brands tend to use brighter colors while serious brands might use deeper, bolder colors. But colors are just one way to evoke emotion and set the tone with your audience. Ultimately, the very essence of your brand is its tone. Everything you publish or share should communicate who you are and leave a lasting impression on those who see or read your marketing materials.
What is Branding Tone?
Your brand’s tone dictates how you communicate with your audience and how that audience perceives you. Identifying your tone helps you provide a consistent experience across marketing mediums while inducing an emotional response from your audience.
Some brands set a serious tone, others humorous. You might want to come across as formal or informal. The emotional response you might be trying to convey is nostalgia, laughter, lightheartedness or pride.
Your brand’s tone should be identifiable in all materials and messages from your brand, not just those that come from your marketing department. That means that you need to share that tone with your customer services teams, sales and anyone else who comes in contact with your customers.
Your brand’s tone, impacts:
· Brand identity
· Brand personality
· Audience emotional response
· Advertising medium/channel decisions
· Word choice
· Response to customer inquiries
Setting Your Brand’s Tone Starts with Your Audience
Before you get too far into creating your brand’s tone, consider your audience. Because the main goal of your brand’s tone is to evoke an emotional response from your customers, you need to know who they are first.
Take a moment to dive deep into who your audience is. Understand what they value and what motivates them to purchase the products and services you offer.
Setting your brand’s tone starts with a deep understanding of your customers. Good branding helps build connections and relationships with customers. That’s because you’ll be tailoring your offer to match customer expectations and needs.
For example, customers looking for a speedy solution to a problem might like a brand that is clear and to the point. In contrast, customers seeking extensive information before making a large purchase might be looking for a brand that educates and offers in-depth solutions.
From the moment a customer sees your page title and meta description in a search engine or a 3-word display ad, they should be able to feel who your brand is. When all branding elements work together, communicating your brand’s tone without any words should not be hard. The design alone should tell customers what you want them to know.
One way to help you start envisioning your brand’s tone is to look at it from the point of view of a brand archetype. These archetypes will help you create a personality for your brand that will help you visualize and bring your brand to life.
Steps to Set your Brand’s Tone
Creating your tone means carefully walking through exercises where you define what’s most important. From there, you find ways to bring out those elements in your tone. Here’s a broad look at how to develop your tone.
1. Know your audience
2. Identify your brand’s values
3. Define how you want your customers to feel
4. Select which characteristics best fit your brand. Here are some considerations to get you started but of course there are many other characteristics you could outline:
a. Formal or casual
b. Funny or serious
c. Respectful or irreverent
d. Enthusiastic or Matter-of-fact
5. Create a tone of voice chart
The tone of voice chart should outline a description of your main characteristics, things you should do/say and things you should not do/say based on that characteristic. SEMRush provides a great example of a tone of voice chart to get you started.
And once you’ve outlined your tone, you must ensure that everything coming from your company matches that tone. Take time to host brand workshops and training to teach your employees how to incorporate that tone in everything to create a cohesive experience.
Delivering on the Promise Your Brand Makes
Once you’ve set your tone, you need to make sure that your products, services, customer interactions and brand experience match the tone you’ve set.
It’s time to deliver on the promises you make to your customers. If you promise industry-leading service, you better make sure you’re providing it. Otherwise, what you intend to be your key selling points, can become points of contention with your customers.
You can’t overpromise and underdeliver in your branding or you’ll do more harm than good. That’s why you have to start with your company values and understanding your customers before setting your brand’s tone.
The right tone can make all the difference in making your brand memorable and relatable for your customers. Design Positive is a strategic branding and accessibility agency with decades of experience helping brands connect with customers across multiple channels.