What is tone of voice (TOV)?

What is tone of voice (TOV)?

How you say something is just as important as what you say…

What is tone of voice?

Your message is only half of what really makes up your copy — the other major player is tone of voice, or how your copy sounds.  It might sound deceptively simple, but there are a lot of moving parts that make up the definition of ‘tone of voice’. Your choice of vocabulary, level of formality, intensity of emotion, and strictness of grammar usage all contribute towards the final product that your customer sees.

Tone in speech can tell us whether a person is frustrated, excited, confident, or any number of expressions. The tone we use to say something contributes a surprising amount of meaning to the overall sentence — as much as 38%. Similarly, tone in writing lets you express your brand’s personality and show customers how to perceive your product.

Take a look at our guide to find out why tone of voice (TOV) is so important and how you can develop your own tone of voice for your brand. We’ve also included a couple of handy examples to show exactly how much of a difference your tone can have on your copy.


Why is tone of voice important?

Consistent branding

Branding is all about recognition. A specific shade of blue, a bold font, and TOV all come together to make your business. Having a consistent voice for your brand creates an iconic personality that your customers can recognise as yours at a first glance. Recognition builds trust and familiarity, which is what keeps them coming back to you.

Connect with customers

Tone of voice is one place where you can put your audience research to use. What kind of branding speaks to your target audience? Choosing the right way of communicating can help you connect with them on their level. A dry, matter-of-fact tone may not be a big hit with a makeup company, for instance. Instead, you might prefer to go for an upbeat or luxurious tone.

Establish an identity

From the colours you choose for your website to the name of your company itself, your branding says something about who you are as a business. You might be upmarket and indulgent, or down-to-earth and honest. Tone of voice is a big part of bringing that identity to life.

Tone of voice examples

We’ve put together three short bits of copy for the same product, but each example uses an entirely different tone of voice. Give them a read, and consider what the language used says about the company.

Example 1

Over here at Jack’s Magic Beans, we’d like to think we’ve grown a bean or two in our time. Just the two beans. They’re married and live a happy life together.

That just about makes us bean experts, and we’ve scraped together all our expertise to make these super-fast, super-strong little beans. Don’t just take our word for it — pop them in your garden and watch them grow (but don’t strain your neck too much). Give us a shout if you find any giants up there.

Example 2

For all the dreamers out there, all of you who reach for the stars — Jack’s Magic Beans will get you there. A standout piece for every garden, enchant your friends and family with the undeniable charm of the delightful pink flowers and blossoming scent.

But where does the magic come from, you might ask? We couldn’t possibly spill the beans…

Example 3

At Jack’s Magic Beans, we have two decades of experience under our belt growing and picking our own magic beans. Like our beans, there’s a lot of work that’s gone into growing to reach the top. As the top bean cultivator in the UK, we offer reliable service that gets results. Contact us today to discuss how we can transform your garden.

Plant sprouting

How to choose a tone of voice for your brand

If you haven’t already decided on a tone of voice for your brand, there’s no time like the present! Here are just a few things to consider when choosing what kind of voice is right for you.

Consider your target audience

You probably already have an idea of the kinds of people who need your products and services. What kind of branding will attract them? Formal? Relaxed? If your brand’s personality is appealing to your customers, then they’ll be able to connect to it and develop a sense of familiarity.

This will depend greatly on your customer base. B2C companies in particular have a lot of room to be casual and chatty. This isn’t a hard and fast rule, though — some B2B brands go for a casual tone, while some B2C like to keep it professional. Consider what works for your brand specifically.

How do you want to come across?

It’s important to listen to what your customers want to see, but it’s also important to remain authentic. To that end, consider how you would like the brand to be. If humour isn’t really your thing, then forcing it could lead to jokes falling flat.

If your brand were a person, what kind of person would they be? Would they be compassionate, funny, or clinical? How would a person with those qualities speak?

How does it fit with the rest of your brand?

Even if you haven’t really considered your TOV yet, you still may have already established other aspects of your brand. In that case, you can build on top of what you already have. If your existing branding is sophisticated and elegant, then you might want to avoid a chatty tone of voice, for example.

Write tone of voice guidelines

Once you’ve decided how you want your tone of voice to be, it can be helpful to have some guidelines written down. This could include some key adjectives (like “friendly”, “reliable”, or “professional”), instructions for how to format product names, and other notes on how you want your brand to come across.

This will help your writers ensure that your copy reflects your business and presents a cohesive brand identity, which in turn will create a reliable and professional brand that your customers can trust. A clear tone of voice and guidelines are a really nifty resource if you want to outsource your written content to a copywriting agency. The more information there is, the easier it is for copywriters to really nail your brand’s voice.

Brand identity book by a computer

How Zipcopi can help

When choosing a copywriting agency, it’s important to know that the writers can adapt to your company’s tone of voice. That’s why at Zipcopi, we do thorough research into your company’s existing copy to ensure our copy perfectly fits in with your brand’s voice. We have a handy brief template that includes stating tone of voice — this will help us ensure we nail your brand’s styles. 

Interested in learning more about what we do? Take a look at our website for more info, get in touch at hello@zipcopi.com, or find us on Instagram, Facebook, or LinkedIn.