What does your brand sound like? When your brand takes center stage — on your website or an e-blast or an advertisement — what tone of voice is your audience hearing or experiencing? Is your voice garnering a sitting ovation for being distinctive and suited to you or is there mumbling in the aisles with potential customers saying, “don’t take that tone with me!”
What is a tone of voice anyway and what difference does it make in the marketplace? The tone of voice is the way the personality and nature of your brand are expressed through your marketing and advertising messages. Ultimately, the tone of voice you want to choose for your brand should be an expression of your core values, vision, mission, and all that good corporate stuff. The tone of voice suggests the relationship you want to have with your audience and the relationship you both want to establish with the product or service being sold.
According to experts and long-distance associates like Kirk Faulkner of FMTG Suite, “tone is the situational expression of a brand.” The word “situational” is important because people change tones depending on the situation – if we’re being sarcastic (“yeah, you really are a genius”), or apologizing (“gee, I’m sorry I bit your dog,”) or just jabbering with friends versus how you sound when talking to your boss” — “Bill, I’m all over the Akins account. I recommend boosting his SERP with SEO, SEM, and a PPC ad campaign ASAP.” “Great Jim, you’re F.I.R.E.D.”
The tone is not just about how you speak, but the words that you choose to use and how you use them, i.e., your language. Do you want to sound intelligent, clever, sincere, caring, authentic, charming, approachable, ingenious, or a hundred other ways of “being?” What kind of language would be appropriate for a financial advisor or a butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker?
A financial advisor or planner would want to sound grounded like they are savvy about a wide range of financial instruments to secure and grow wealth. But what about brand personality traits that could create differentiation? Here, the professional might try to convey being “invested in their customer’s security and success,” valuing personal relationships and certainly, knowing the latest, innovative financial instruments to recommend, like digital currency, including Bitcoin. The advisor’s tone of voice, language, and verbiage could all establish those brand traits and distinctions.
A butcher might position his shop as the place where the elite meat (whoa) and you never have a beef with quality and service. A baker can bring in the dough if he knows the customer knead and rises to the occasion. (O.K. Isn’t that enough?) But no, a candlestick maker might enlighten your daily life warmly and elegantly. The point? Any tone can be established with purposeful and on-brand language and messaging.
The “Character(s)” of Brand Voice
Brands often talk through the voice and personality of a person who is deeply connected to and representative of the brand. There’s Jan of Toyota who has brightly and enthusiastically introduced 100 Toyota-thons over the years.
My personal favorite is Flo (Stephanie Courtney), with her backup gang of insurance enthusiasts, including Jamie (Jim Cashman), Lucy (Christine Tawfik), and others. Why did Progressive go with the Flo? “We wanted the persona to be friendly and helpful to consumers in their path to purchasing insurance, and ultimately, in becoming customers of Progressive for what we hope will be decades.” Plus, there are other characters Progressive has spawned, including the motorcycle man Motaur and Dr. Rick who teaches people not to be like their parents. These are just warm and engaging spots you could watch over and over and over.
That’s just the beginning of brand characters we know well: there’s good old Jake from State Farm, the Good Hands guy from Allstate, plus perky, cute, funny Lilly from AT&T and let’s not forget the GEICO Gecko.
3 Stunning Examples of Brand Voice
There are so many brands that have a voice that stands out. One is “We have the meats” for Arby’s with the deep, resonating, baritone tone of Ving Rhames. Another crazy distinctive character is “The most interesting man in the world for Dos Equis.”
You gotta love this guy. The voice-over of the ad tells stories like: “He once bit an alligator in half because it was stalking defenseless ducks. He translates hieroglyphics. He pilots his own Lear Jet to his private island off the coast of Zimbabwe where his charity is saving lives of African children, He doesn’t always drink beer, but when he does it’s Dos Equis.” Tell me that’s not the most wonderful campaign in the world (too bad it’s not what they’re doing anymore.)
The third example worth noting is the bold, beautiful, distinctive voice and brand personality of Duluth Trading Company. The language of their tv commercials and print ads are designed to be as rugged as the clothing they sell. The result is a brand so distinctive and engaging customers say: “Bring that underwear over here!”
My voice regarding voice is getting hoarse so let me close with this, what is your tone? What does it say about your business? Do you need to “tone it down” or “turn it up”? The Miner Agency can help you dial it in and make sure that your tone speaks volumes about your business.