Celebrating 10 years : 2013 - 2023

How to define your tone of voice (plus examples!)

May 7th 2024

By Emily

Imagine you’re at a party and someone strikes up a conversation. How they speak—their tone, their choice of words, and their energy—shapes your impression of them. Brands are no different.

Your tone of voice doesn’t just convey information; it shapes how people perceive you, creating connections that stretch well beyond what you sell. Just like that party-goer, your brand’s tone of voice can make you the life of the market’s party or just another face in the crowd.

What is Tone of Voice (TOV)?

Tone of voice is essentially how you say what you say. It’s the style and mood of your brand’s communications, as distinct from your brand voice, which embodies your core personality and mission. While your brand voice remains steadfast, your tone might shift with the context or audience—like adjusting your dialogue from a boardroom to a barbecue.

It builds trust and consistency

A solid, consistent tone of voice builds trust with your audience. If you sound like a friend, they’re more likely to treat you like one. Keeping your tone of voice consistent across all your communications also reinforces your brand identity. When customers recognise your tone, it creates familiarity and fosters loyalty.

It helps you stand out

Let’s face it, the marketplace is noisy. A distinctive tone of voice helps you stand out. It’s your chance to differentiate yourself from the competition. A brand with a unique tone is like a person with a memorable laugh—easy to identify and hard to forget.

Look at Oatly. Their quirky, irreverent tone slices through the competitive clutter of the plant-based milk market with sharp, humorous jabs that stick in the memory.

It makes it easier to connect with your audience

People click with emotions, not just cold hard facts. Your tone of voice is a mighty tool for sparking emotional connections. Whether it’s humour, empathy, or enthusiasm, the right tone can make your brand more relatable and engaging, from your social media posts to your website micro-copy.

How to define your Tone of Voice

Crafting your tone of voice isn’t merely about your word choice; it’s about capturing your brand’s essence and communicating it in a way that resonates. Here’s how you can define and develop yours:

1. Dig into your brand

Kick off by getting to grips with your brand’s personality. If your brand were a person, what would they be like? What virtues and quirks would they embody? This’ll help give your approach some well-needed focus.

2. Know your audience 

Your tone should vibe with your target audience. Are they formal or relaxed? Serious or spirited? Understanding who you’re engaging with helps you tailor your tone precisely.

3. Define your vibe

With your brand and audience in mind, now it’s time to define your tone. Think about formality, humour, and warmth. Jot down adjectives that describe your desired tone, using them as a guide.

4. Create guidelines

Drafting tone of voice guidelines means everyone’s on the same page. This is where you need to specify your preferred style, common phrases, and no-go words. These guidelines will essentially serve as a reference for anyone who crafts content for your brand, ensuring you’re bang-on consistent across all platforms. It’s your team’s gateway to content that’s as enjoyable to read as it is to write.

5. Be flexible

While consistency is vital, flexibility is equally as important. Different situations might call for subtle tweaks in your tone, after all. The key is to keep the core of your voice intact while adapting to various contexts.

6.Test and refine it

Your tone of voice should evolve as you do. Regularly assess how it’s performing. Get feedback from your audience and adjust it as necessary to keep it fresh.

Common mistakes and pitfalls to avoid

Developing a tone of voice can be fraught with pitfalls such as inconsistency, not tuning into your audience, and misaligning with your brand values. And this can seriously undermine your resonance and credibility.

1. Inconsistency

Inconsistency can muddle your audience and dilute trust. It’s crucial to maintain a coherent voice across all touch points. An inconsistent tone—professional on your website but casual on social media, can confuse and alienate your audience, but a well-defined set of tone guidelines can help maintain your consistency and act as a reference for everyone involved in crafting your brand’s communications.

2. Lack of audience understanding

Your tone of voice should resonate with your target audience. Not understanding your audience can lead to a tone that feels out of touch or even alienating. For instance, using a formal tone when your audience prefers a casual approach can make your brand appear distant. Deeply researching and understanding your audience’s preferences allows you to align your tone more effectively.

3. Failure to align with brand values

Aligning your tone of voice with your brand values is essential for authenticity and credibility. If your tone doesn’t match your brand’s ethos, it can come across as inauthentic or confusing. For example, if your brand promotes environmental sustainability, but your tone is dismissive of green issues, it can undermine your brand’s credibility and alienate customers who value your stance on sustainability. Ensuring that your tone aligns with your brand values helps create a cohesive and trustworthy brand identity.

By being mindful of these common mistakes and pitfalls, you can develop a tone of voice that effectively communicates your brand’s identity, resonates with your audience, and builds trust and credibility.

2024 Tone of Voice trends

  1. Conversational marketing: The way we chat with our friends over a coffee? That’s how brands are starting to talk, too. This trend leans towards a casual, interactive tone that makes companies seem more like a friend and less like a corporate giant. It’s about sparking real conversations when you’re creating content, whether it’s through a quick DM or a longer chat on a customer service line/call centre. But remember, while it’s friendly and inviting, this style isn’t one-size-fits-all. Make sure it suits your brand’s personality, aligns with your product, and resonates with the folks you’re speaking to.
  2. Authentic storytelling: These days, people crave the real deal. They want stories they can see themselves in, told in a voice that feels genuine and heartfelt. Drop the jargon, and let your brand’s human side shine through. It’s like opening the doors to the behind-the-scenes of your brand, showing off your values and the real faces behind your operations. But don’t just jump on the bandwagon because it’s trending; make sure this honest approach fits snugly with your brand’s image and speaks directly to your audience’s hearts.
  3. Inclusive language: We’re all part of this big, beautiful mix, and our language should celebrate that by being as inclusive as possible. This trend is all about embracing diversity through words that respect and acknowledge everyone’s presence. It’s about being conscious of the impact your words have and making sure everyone feels seen and valued. But remember, this needs to be more than just lip service—it should reflect a deep-seated part of your brand’s ethos.

Examples of a great tone of voice

  1. Lush Cosmetics: Dive into any Lush shop, website, or social media page, and you’re instantly hit with their fresh, vibrant tone that’s as natural as their products. Lush speaks like your eco-conscious, fun-loving friend who’s always up for a spa day. They champion ethical sourcing, animal welfare, and environmental causes without ever sounding preachy. Instead, their communication is engaging, filled with passion, and often sprinkled with a touch of whimsy. This clear and consistent messaging builds a strong emotional connection with customers who share these values, making the brand not just a choice, but a lifestyle.
  2. Monzo: Monzo has revolutionised banking with its transparent and customer-friendly tone that makes financial talk feel like a chat over coffee rather than a boardroom meeting. Their communication is straightforward and jargon-free, whether you’re reading a blog post, browsing their app, or receiving a transaction alert. This approachability has made Monzo a darling of the fintech world, especially among millennials who crave simplicity and honesty from their financial services provider. It’s a prime example of how a consistent tone of voice can make even the most traditionally stiff industry accessible and engaging.
  3. MailChimp: These guys use a conversational, slightly quirky tone that makes digital marketing feel less daunting and more doable. Their use of friendly language, clear instructions, and occasional humour demystifies the often overwhelming world of email campaigns. MailChimp’s consistency in tone helps users feel more at ease, encouraging both novices and seasoned marketers to engage with their platform. It’s like having a knowledgeable friend guide you through the complexities of email marketing, making sure you feel supported every step of the way.

Practical exercises to nail your tone

  1. Sample post writing: Get your team members together and craft sample posts in different tones to see what feels right for your brand. It’s akin to trying on outfits before a big event—some will fit perfectly, others will be a hard pass. This exercise can help you nail down the exact voice that embodies your brand and resonates with your audience.
  2. Consistency checklist: Develop a checklist in your brand voice guidelines that includes key phrases to embrace, words to dodge, and the overall style that defines your brand. This becomes your go-to guide to ensure that every piece of content, from tweets to emails, sings from the same hymn sheet, maintaining a cohesive voice that your audience will come to recognise and trust.
  3. Say it out loud: This one’s simple but effective. Read your content out loud to really hear how it sounds. Does it flow? Is it too formal, or maybe too casual? Hearing it spoken can help you tweak the tone to ensure it’s just right, making your message clear and your brand voice consistent.

So remember, your tone of voice is your brand’s personality across all your communication channels. It’s crucial because it builds trust, sets you apart, and forges emotional connections, all contributing to a strong brand. By understanding your brand, knowing your audience, and steering clear of common pitfalls in your written communication, you can develop a tone of voice that not only resonates with your audience but also amplifies your brand’s unique character.

So, don’t be a wallflower; create a brand voice that makes you the life of the party. Need some help to get there? Get in touch!

Related Projects

Interested in working with KOTA?

Drop us a line at

We are a Creative Digital Agency based in Clerkenwell London, specialising in Creative Web Design, Web Development, Branding and Digital Marketing.