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Tone of voice examples – making your brand sound right

An example of two different brand tones of voice - Brand A example is credible, authoratitive and knowledgeable and has an average reading age of 21 to 22, Brand B is fun, enthusiastic and exciting and has an average reading age of 11 to 12

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Why read this? : We share different tone of voice examples to show its impact on brand identity. Learn how the way a brand sounds changes how customers perceive it. Read these tone of voice examples for ideas on how to make your brand sound right.

Your tone of voice is a key part of your brand identity. It sets out what your brand sounds like when it talks to customers. It shapes the words you use, and how you say them.

Those can be written. On your packaging or website, for example. Or spoken, such as in TV and radio advertising campaigns.

We’ve previously covered why it’s so important, and where it fits into the brand creation process.

Two people holding up large ears on a small dog

Now we’ll explore in more detail how it works with practical tone of voice examples you can learn from. We’ll show how to use tone of voice to make brands sound different from each other in these categories:-

  • children’s educational books.
  • snacks.
  • alcohol.

Tone of voice examples - children’s educational books

Let’s imagine you’ve been asked to write for Brand A in the children’s educational books category.

Its brand book tells you its target audience is parents who want their children to succeed in life via education and making well-informed choices.

It also tells you their brand values are about being credible, authoritative and knowledgeable. The tone of voice guidelines recommend you use facts, evidence and references to back up what you write. 

Young Girl reading book

Brand A is seriously committed to its educational and learning focus. It’s recommended the writing structure be logical and well thought out. The topics you cover should be substantial and tangible. You should use slightly longer sentences and paragraphs to sound more educated.

With this in mind, now imagine you’ve been asked to write a short paragraph to describe the above image of the girl reading. What would you say using Brand A’s tone of voice? 

Brand A - example copy

Remember, the copy has to reflect brand A’s values of being credible, authoritative, and knowledgeable. So, you might draft something like this :- 

This book increases the likelihood this girl will excel academically, because as the evidence shows, reading serves to improve cognitive function.

Sounds a bit formal, right? But there’s lots in it, which meets the tone of voice guidelines. 

It’s authoritative because it makes a clear claim – increases the likelihood this girl will excel academically. There are also no weasel words here. No “this might help her”, or “this possibly will help”.  

It’s credible because it backs up this claim by referring to “evidence”. In an actual piece of copy, you’d link to that evidence 

And lastly, there’s implied knowledgeability from the longer words, sentences and complex ideas. 

For example, an online text analysis tool shows the sentence is 21 words long. Over 20 words is considered long. It has 4 complex words – words of 3 or more syllables. And its average syllables per word is 1.86. Complex words like ‘academically’ and ‘cognitive’ mean this sentence requires a more advanced reading level to understand. (It has a Flesch-Kincaid readability score of 28.4. That’s low).

In reality, we’d tone (!) this down in the edit to help the readability. We’d replace “likelihood” with “chances”, for example. Same meaning, but simpler word. For the same reason, we’d replace “academically” with “at school”, and “cognitive” with “brain”. 

But even in draft form, you get the idea of how Brand A would describe the picture in its tone of voice. 

Brand B - Example copy

Now imagine, you work on Brand B instead. It also sells children’s educational books, but its brand values are very different. Brand B is fun, enthusiastic and exciting. Its target audience is parents who want their children to enjoy the simple pleasure of reading. They want to use education to stimulate their child’s creativity and imagination. 

Brand B’s copy guidelines recommend you use shorter words and be more informal and easy-going. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, so sentences can be more playful. And shorter. The copy should talk more emotion and imagination than cold hard facts. You want words which are easy to understand. 

So, your draft copy might read something like this :-

Shhhh! Imagination at work. Right now, this girl’s deep inside the dragon’s dungeon. She’s ready to take back the treasure that’s rightfully hers.

See the difference from the facts and logic of Brand A?

It’s roughly the same number of words about the same picture.

But it’s broken down into 4 separate sentences. Easier to read than 1 long sentence. Its readability score is 79.6. Much higher. And there are only 2 complex words, with average syllables at only 1.43. 

Shorter words and sentences ‘lighten’ the feel of the copy. Using informal language like shhhh! makes the copy feel more casual. It’s way less formal and stuffy than Brand A was. Using words like “imagination”, “dungeon” and “treasure” helps bring to life those values of fun, enthusiasm and excitement.

Differentiating - credible vs. fun

You can see in the different word choices, style and content how 2 different brands in the same category can describe the same thing in very different ways. Brand A’s words are credible, but not fun. And Brand B’s words are fun, but doesn’t even try for credible.

Tone of voice examples - Snacks

Let’s look at another category. Thinking about tone of voice is making us peckish, so let’s look at snacks. 

Again, we’ll look at 2 brands with different values, and use tone of voice examples to explore how they would tackle the same copywriting task differently. 

Brand C - example copy

Let’s start with brand C. Its competitive strategy is to go niche.

Overhead shot of a load of red coloured snacks including Doritos and Skittles

It offers high-quality, taste-driven snacks for which it charges a premium over more everyday snacks. 

Brand C targets older, more affluent customers looking for indulgent snacks they can eat as a reward for getting through the day. Its key brand values are premiumness, indulgence and taste, and it focuses heavily on the quality and source of its ingredients.

Let’s say you have to write a short sales copy paragraph highlighting an Easter egg sales promotion in one of your retailers. 

Based on those brand values, you might draft something like this :-

Treat yourself to some luxury this Easter with our limited edition 76% organic Belgian dark chocolate and macadamia nut Easter egg. Meltingly smooth and mouthwateringly delicious.  

So, here, we hit premiumness by referring to the high-quality ingredients – “76% organic Belgian dark chocolate and macadamia nut”. 

We hit indulgence with “treat yourself to some luxury”. 

And we hit taste with “meltingly smooth and mouthwateringly delicious”. 

In fact, we might even have gone as far as making it “mmmmeltingly smooth and mmmmouthwateringly delicious” as the “mmmm” sound is associated with great taste. But mmmmaybe that’s too much?

The readability tool analysis shows us this is difficult to read. A readability score of 21.2 which is very low. There are 26 words across the 2 sentences, but 10 of them (almost 40%) are complex. And you’ve got an average syllables per word of 2.04. Those mmmms are definitely out. 

Premium brands can sometimes get away with slightly longer constructions. However, in this case, we’d cut “to some luxury this Easter” in the edit. Luxury is already implied in the “treat yourself” and the ingredients. And it’s clear it’s Easter from the fact it’s an Easter egg. 

Brand D - example copy

In contrast, Brand D plays at the more mainstream end of the market. Its competitive strategy focuses on cost leadership. Keep the price down, and sell a lot. It mainly targets younger males looking for an energy fix and likes to link to relevant customer interests, especially sport. Its main values are bold, energetic and cool.

So, for their Easter promotion, you might draft something like :-

Four days only! Get pumped for the footie fiesta this long weekend with our (Brand D) bonkers 2-for-1 Easter egg deal. Hurry, they’ll go fast! Only at Coles. 

See the difference from Brand C? 

The shorter sentences and exclamation marks give the words more energy. More pace. They sound bolder, more assertive. They’re also way more informal with slang like “pumped” and “bonkers”. You’ve got more overt calls to action, creating a sense of urgency and scarcity. (See our advanced e-Commerce selling techniques article for more on these). 

From a readability point of view, it’s much better, with an impressively high score of 92.1. Even though it has 4 more words than the Brand C copy, it’s split into 4 sentences. There are no complex words and an average syllables per word of only 1.27. That fits much better with attracting a younger, energetic target audience

Differentiating - premium vs. bold

Again, you can see from these examples how tone of voice drives different word choices, style and content. Here we have the premium Brand C versus the bold Brand D. They sound very different talking to their different target audiences.

Tone of voice examples - Alcohol

Moving onto our final tone of voice examples, and after all that hard work, we think we deserve a drink. So, let’s look at how tone of voice might play out in the alcohol category.

Brand E - example copy

Brand E’s competitive strategy  is to go very niche. It’s super-premium and targeted at affluent, fashion-conscious women looking for some delicious delights on big nights out.

Hand pouring a brown liquid into a glass filled with ice in a bar

Its key brand values are exclusive, stylish and celebratory.

Let’s imagine you’ve to write a social media post to accompany a picture of 2 customers enjoying the product in a nightclub. 

The draft copy might look something like this :-

Staying cool and looking sharp. Here’s Tamara and Tessa enjoying our limited edition 2003 Grande Cuvee in the VIP room at Tamara’s 22nd birthday party. Loving the super chic Lalique Angel flutes and Longchamp clutches.

This hits the exclusive note by referencing “limited edition” and “VIP room”. It ticks the stylish box with the references to “looking sharp” and mentions of the other fashion brands. And celebratory comes in with the birthday reference. 

This passage has a middling readability score of 54.8, with 6 complex words out of 35 (17.1%) and average syllables per word of 1.66. That’s not bad, and we probably wouldn’t change too many of the words. But in the edit, we’d aim to break up the length of the sentences, especially the 20-word long middle sentence, which covers 5 different points in one go. (who’s drinking, what they’re drinking, where they’re drinking, when and why they’re drinking). 

Brand F - example copy

Now let’s do the same, but use a brand with a different competitive strategy. Brand F also sells in nightclubs, but is all about younger male drinkers feeling fuelled up for a big night out. It’s about having fun with your mates, and the great stories which happen when you’re out on the town. Its key brand values are down-to-earth, humorous and friendly.

So, a social post in Brand F’s tone of voice might go something like this :-

Oi! Check out our fave bruvvers Ben and Brandon necking a coupla cheeky bottles at Bar X last Friday. Dunno about those shirts, boys. Was there a sale on at the op shop?  

Feels very different to Brand E, right? 

Down-to-earth comes across in the informal language. Oi! Bruvvers. Coupla. Dunno. Then you’ve got some humour from the comment about where their shirts came from. And it’s friendly, as banter between mates will resonate with this target audience.

This one has a high readability score of 90.8. That’s 4 short sentences with no complex words and an average syllable per word score of 1.27. 

Differentiating - exclusive vs. down-to-earth

This final of our tone of voice examples shows again how you can use words and sentence structure to make your brand stand out. To sound different and relevant.

Both start with the same base idea of showing 2 customers enjoying the product. But the different tones of voice make them feel very different. The right tone of voice makes you sound more relevant to your target customers. It shows them your brand talks like they do. That it’s meant for people like them.

Conclusion - Differentiating brands with tone of voice examples

Tone of voice is one of those skills which doesn’t get much attention, but which can make a big difference to your brand activation

It shapes all your marketing communications and key interactions on the customer journey. It shapes what you say and how you say it.

Your brand has to talk to customers to drive awareness and consideration, and of course, to eventually persuade them to buy. 

Young boy in a yellow jersey showing loudly into a microphone

These tone of voice examples show how different brands can sound within the same category. Now it’s over to you, to work on your tone of voice to make your brand sound right. To help you stand out and show customers you talk like they do.

Check out our business writing guide and tone of voice articles for more on this. Or get in touch if you need help with strengthening your brand’s tone of voice. 

Photo credits

Dog ears : Photo by kyle smith on Unsplash

Girl reading magazine : Photo by Jerry Wang on Unsplash

Snacks : Photo by Fernanda Rodríguez on Unsplash

Drink pouring in bar : Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

Shout (adapted) : Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

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