Making an impression that lasts in your content marketing is crucial for developing brand loyalty. But how do you do it? You’ve got to be memorable. And by creating and sticking to the distinctive tone of voice guidelines, your customers will keep coming back for more. In this blog, we look at why your tone of voice is important and share some tone of voice examples from brands that are nailing their branding game.
What is tone of voice?
We’ve written a couple of blogs on tone of voice before – why a consistent tone of voice is important? And how to create some good tone of voice guidelines – so before we dive into the tone of voice examples, let’s recap exactly what we mean by tone of voice.
According to Semrush, tone of voice describes how your brand communicates with its audience whilst representing, and staying true to, your brand’s personality and values. Tone of voice considers the words you use, the way you structure them within sentences and the purpose behind them. A successful tone of voice will consistently convey your brand messaging to your audience, playing a great part in the definition of your brand identity.
Why tone of voice is important
If your brand was a person, how would they speak? As we create first impressions of the people we meet, we decide if we like someone based on the way they speak to us and the way they make us feel. Your tone of voice has a significant influence over the relationships consumers build with your brand and the reputation you build within your industry:
- You can express personality. Your brand isn’t a faceless company; it’s not only about what you sell but who you are, says Brain Labs Digital. Through your tone of voice, you can express your values, the things you love and hate, the things that drive you, and the reasons why you wish to share your products or services with the world. All while telling your consumers why they should choose you over your competitors.
- Familiarity build trust. With familiarity, comes ease. People love investing their time and money in brands that they recognise. By creating and building a consistent and recognisable tone of voice, you can build a loyal customer base for your products or services.
- And a trustworthy tone of voice carries a lot of influence. Your customers won’t always remember what you had to say, but they’ll definitely remember how you made them feel. The majority of people are sensitive to what they hear so the way you choose to articulate your intentions makes all the difference to persuade or influence your customers’ buying decisions.
A note about consistency
However, with all of the above, your tone of voice will not be effective unless you are consistent. Your brand tone of voice needs to sound like you, and you only, therefore all your marketing channels need to sound the same. Read our full blog on tone of voice and the importance of consistency here.
Great examples of tone of voice
Let’s take a look at the brands setting a good example when it comes to finding and using their voices effectively and consistently. There are many different types of tone of voice, from formal, humorous and motivating to respectful, assertive and conversational. These brands often use a combination of these action words to develop their own unique tone of voice. Let’s dive into some of our favourite tone of voice examples:
Food tone of voice examples
Aldi is known for their witty and bullish social media content with tweets that have repetitively stirred up a storm online. Earlier this year, the supermarket hit the headlines when M&S wanted to sue Aldi for copyright infringement of their popular Colin the Caterpillar cake. But Aldi’s Cuthbert the Caterpillar cake was soon everywhere online and #FreeCuthbert trended on Twitter. Aldi knows how to bring personality to their tone of voice; they consistently communicate in a tone that is accessible, humorous and entertaining. Fans of the brand love Aldi’s honest tone of voice and this is a great tone of voice example to keep top of mind when it comes to establishing your own.
The self-aware oat milk brand, Oatly, knows how to nail out-of-home (OOH) marketing and speak to their audience. They are pointed and use location well with their copy. Plus, they know how to make an impact with their straightforward, no-BS approach to content marketing and sustainability. Oatly uses a conversational tone to convey its brand values and messaging. They humanise the brand, making these values and their mission particularly accessible.
Pip & Nut
Pip & Nut is another great tone of voice example of humanising a brand. They communicate with their audience in an accessible and conversational tone. Pip & Nut use simple sentences to tell their story; one of honesty, detail and one told well. Pip & Nut have also found the sweet spot between effective storytelling and informative fact-telling; they place themselves as experts in the field and they tell us why they are passionate about their manifesto – why they are nuts about nuts.
Innocent mixes informal with witty and creates something pretty unique. It’s simple and accessible, it’s funny and, at times, naïve (or innocent, for a better word). Innocent knows how to communicate with their audience and they know what types of content marketing work for them. Jokes and humour sit at the centre of many of their posts – many not even directly advertising their smoothies. They jump on trends and are honest and authentic. Innocent have really nailed their tone of voice.
Skittles have a knack for bewildering their customers with their whacky, and sometimes slightly confusing ads. The confectionary brand’s ‘Taste the Rainbow’ campaign is also something you’ve most likely heard of. The push-the-boundaries kind of weird is something Skittles embrace in their tone of voice too. Consistent across visuals and copy, the brand have built a persona that is loved for its craziness.
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Travel tone of voice examples
In their brand guidelines, Uber defines their tone of voice as considerate, simple, bold and consistent. This tone of voice example expresses what the brand stands for and the mission it sets out to achieve – straightforward and efficient service. Their writing is simple and direct, like their taxi service and it’s consistent with the user experience consumers have with the Uber app. You can order an Uber and it will arrive in minutes – it’s that efficient – just like their tone of voice.
Airbnb adopt a dreamy, sympathetic approach to their tone of voice. With travel, it’s easy to feel a little stressed. There are endless things to do, from planning to packing, and traveling abroad can rack the nerves of many. Airbnb take this customer pain point and create an approachable brand that helps travellers find their home from home; a place where they can relax, winddown and feel like they belong. The campaign above highlights the platforms new accessibility features for people with disabilities. It’s a great example of listening to your customers and their easy-going tone of voice helps give users a little peace of mind when travelling.
Ryanair’s approach to its marketing communications is slightly unconventional. By embracing an expressive yet causal tone of voice, the brand never fails to infuse their copy with humour, lacing their audience interactions with witty one-liners and sarcastic comebacks. They have no fear when it comes to what they say online, and any sort of backlash does not exist in their list of concerns as they even dare to make customers the punchline. This tone of voice has worked so well for the brand because it’s unique and instantly recognisable. It just goes to show, there is a prize to win for not playing it safe.
Booking any sort of public transport – and travelling by it for that matter – is pretty boring. But the Trainline have turned the process on its head by creating an app that is not only functional, but a little bit more exciting. Now, they know buying train tickets are never going to have an individual jumping for joy, but they’re here to celebrate the small wins with great seats and even better ticket prices. They inject their accessible tone with cheeky instances of words like ‘hooray’. This creative decision gives the brand a little more personality. It’s a lot more human and a touch of fun that offers the opportunity to explore this side to the brand on social media.
Virgin Atlantic are the bridge between your home and many of the world’s most sought after destinations. And unlike many other airlines promising to get you from A to B, Virgin Atlantic also promise to deliver an experience. Their enthusiastic and descriptive tone paints the picture of a perfect holiday for customers; it shows users what they can expect, luring them in with attractions and adventure. This charismatic approach conveys the brand’s commitment to high-quality travel, and from their tone of voice alone you can be easily convinced that the service won’t be one that disappoints.
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Technology tone of voice examples
Mailchimp is also pretty familiar with humour in their content marketing and their tone of voice is clear and genuine. Mailchimp strips away all the jargon and hyperbolic language in order to avoid appearing snobbish – they are an accessible platform. Their genuine tone speaks to their audience in a warm and familiar way; consumers feel an emotional connection with the brand as they feel supported. Their informal tone, which is supported by humour, makes you feel like you’re talking to an older, and wiser friend, so you don’t feel intimidated by their automation systems.
Duolingo is a language-learning tool. While it teaches adults and kids to learn languages from their mobile devices, what it doesn’t do is fit into a text-book shaped box like many of its competitors. And the brand’s tone of voice is quite outside-the-box too. The app’s marketing team aren’t afraid to push the boundaries of sarcasm as they certainly mince their words as they remind their audience to take their language lessons. They’re often a little more blunt and aggressive than passive and nice. But this straight-to-the-point approach gets users laughing and has made the brand a household name.
HubSpot create tools and resources to make the lives of marketers and business owners easier. And their tone of voice doesn’t fall far from the same tree. The brand knows its audience inside-out. They want clear, easy-to-read information. Some of their users may be complete beginners, while others may know a thing or two about the topics they discuss. Either way, the language they use is informative; it’s dissected into simple instructions, explanations and how-to tutorials. If you’re an educational platform looking to ace your tone of voice, start here.
Spotify’s tone of voice is funny, direct and concise. They’re not a brand that takes themselves too seriously, they play on humour and have fun with their audience interactions. They also make laughing at their own jokes a good chunk of their personality – just look at the example above. It’s casual, friendly and positive, much like their music app. It’s a great example of a memorable tone of voice so it’s no surprise users keep the brand top of mind for their streaming needs.
This workplace communication tool finds the perfect middle-ground between serious and light-heartedness. While many of their posts on social media consist of commentary on reports, stats and other findings, they also ensure to include their own version of ‘workplace banter’ in the form of interactive tweets, polls and trend related posts. This tone of voice promotes Slack as a multi-purpose platform. From professional meetings to fun office chit-chat, it can do both. And while remote work continues to take reign after the pandemic, this is appealing to many teams craving the in-person feeling the office used to offer.
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Insurance and finance tone of voice examples
First Direct know how to start a conversation with their audience. They don’t shove their products or services in your face. Instead, they say: “we could help, if you want us to”. Despite their products, which may need some in-depth explanation for the average person to understand, First Direct convey them in an accessible way. It’s straightforward, entertaining and understanding.
Monzo’s tone of voice guidelines are *chefs kiss*. And that’s because they take something that could be super boring and make it actually rather enjoyable. In their tone of voice guidelines, that they proudly publish on their site, they note that 80% of people prefer sentences written in clear English over complex, formal language. While jargon works in the right time or place, normal is often better than formal and Monzo adopt this in their writing. The brand does this communicate that they’re trust, approachable and reliable. You can count on the bank to handle your finances without the fluff or any confusion.
Similar to Monzo, Revolut are another digital bank looking to disrupt the finance industry. Their slogan, ‘Change the way you money’, says it all. The way they do things works, too. Despite entering the market in 2015 – less than ten years ago – the brand already has 15 million clientele around the world. They’re pretty radical in the way they offer banking services, and their tone of voice supports that. They’re cool and trendy; this brand is a great tone of voice example if you’re looking to stand out in the crowd.
AXA is another brand that holds themselves accountable when it comes to their business approach by publishing their tone of voice guidelines on their website. The brand works to embody their three principles in their writing: personal, proactive and progressive. These aims keep the brand on track as they create copy that is empathetic, engaged, confident and succinct. The brand is optimistic about their industry and the words they use help them come across as somebody who cares about the bigger picture. AXA show other brands that having a clear picture of what you want to say goes a long way.
If you think of Go Compare, I’m sure Gio Compario comes to mind, singing that operatic jingle that has been unfortunately stuck in our heads for the past ten years. When the brand launched the campaign which has been dubbed ‘mildly irritating’, they knew what they were doing – they were wanting to keep their brand top of mind for consumers. And it worked. The insurance comparison site has been able to make a real name for themselves and a recognisable tone of voice that gets people talking. Take a look at the tone of voice example above, it embodies the dramatic, slightly sing-song like feel that Gio Compario captured so well.
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Fashion and lifestyle tone of voice examples
I would bet a decent amount of money that most people could recognise Nike’s Just Do It slogan in a pub quiz. Setting the foundations for inspiring content, Nike embody their own confidence and communicate in a tone that is to the point and effective. Simple, yet impactful, Nike know that it works to encourage their audience to go after their goals in few words, rather than trying to deliver a descriptive pep-talk full of wordy explanations. Just like their slogan, they write copy that just does what it says on the tin. It instructs people to buy what they need to do what they want to do. And that works extremely well.
When a brand has a point to make or a value to communicate, the best way they can approach the subject is by being honest and direct. And that’s exactly what Patagonia does to communicate their focus on sustainability. Their website’s heading doesn’t beat around the bush; it says everything it needs to say in as few words as possible. They don’t lead with what they’re doing to solve the problem at hand. Instead they admit that they too are responsible. It’s a great hook to keep users engaged and reading.
Tiffany & Co
Tiffany is a luxury jewellery brand that has been an industry staple and timeless icon since 1837. Just as their statement aqua blue packaging is instantly recognisable, so is their marketing thanks to their classic tone of voice. The brand uses simple language to tell their brand story; it’s elegant and concise as they share their famous legacy with consumers. Tiffany is a prime example of knowing your brand in and out and expressing that personality in your copy seamlessly. Brands should take note of this effective tone of voice example.
Dove is known for their empowering marketing campaigns designed to inspire women to feel confident in their own skin. The beauty brand uses an uplifting and powerful tone of voice as the build awareness of body positivity and self-love. The brand puts the audience centre stage, addressing them in a way that feels approachable and kind. When the messages they convey could easily come across in quite a patronising tone, the brand have worked hard to work with real people and stories to ensure their marketing is well received.
Old Spice rebranded in 2010 after its competition began to grow and since then they’ve quickly become one of the more recognisable brand voices in the industry. It’s brand voice blends masculinity with humour, often exaggerating the former to achieve the latter in their ads and marketing copy. It’s light-hearted and casual, reiterating that this classic brand is for the modern man as much as it is for the customers who have been using it forever.
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Finding your tone of voice and creating guidelines
We’ve inspired you with some tone of voice examples and you now you know your brand needs a strong tone of voice in order to stand out. But how do you find your voice and establish some good tone of voice guidelines? As we mentioned earlier, we wrote a step-by-step guide on creating effective guidelines. You should read this next if you haven’t already nailed this down. But in short, here are five top tips for acing your tone of voice guidelines:
- Understand your audience: Before defining your brand’s tone of voice, it’s crucial to understand your target audience. Consider their demographics, interests, and communication preferences. Tailoring your tone to resonate with your audience helps build a stronger connection and ensures your message is relatable.
- Define brand personality: Your brand is like a person with its own unique personality. Determine adjectives that describe your brand—whether it’s friendly, professional, playful, or authoritative. Clearly defining your brand personality will guide the development of a consistent and authentic tone across all communication channels.
- Maintain consistency: Consistency is key when it comes to tone of voice. Ensure that your brand communicates in a uniform manner across various platforms, such as social media, website content, and marketing materials. Consistency is also a crucial part of brand recognition – the more people that know of your brand, the better.
- Emphasise clarity and simplicity: A clear and simple tone enhances communication effectiveness. Avoid jargon and convoluted language that may confuse your audience. Strive for clarity in conveying your messages, making it easy for your audience to understand and engage with your content. Remember, simplicity doesn’t mean sacrificing personality— you’ve got to find the right balance.
- Encourage flexibility within your guidelines: While having guidelines is essential, allow room for flexibility. Different situations may call for adjustments in tone, especially in response to current events or evolving trends. Empower your marketing team to adapt the tone appropriately, ensuring that the guidelines serve as a foundation rather than a rigid set of rules.
Can we help?
Need a little extra help finding your voice? Get in touch. Tone of voice guidelines take time to craft but once you have a definitive tone for your business, it’ll make a huge difference to internal and external communications.