A Masterclass in Brand Tone of Voice

Brands today are expected to go and above and beyond the call of duty as reliable suppliers of high-quality goods and services. Who they are has become as important as what they do, and thanks to the rise of social media, they are able to become an active part of the conversation.

Those that choose to embrace this opportunity must establish a personality in order to engage with new and existing audiences in an authentic way. If a brand achieves a tone of voice that is reliable, consistent and distinctive – particularly from its competitors – it is more likely to convert these audiences into customers.

However, establishing a recognisable tone across a range of platforms – with a range of target demographics – is a challenge. A number of brands have mastered this in recent years, creating a tone of voice that is unique, attractive and consequently memorable to potential customers. We’ve taken a closer look at five great examples.

Moosejaw

US-based outdoor clothing retailer Moosejaw adopts – and has done since it was founded in 1992 – a tone of voice that’s as laugh-out-loud funny as it is persuasive. Indeed, it’s persuasive because it’s funny. Take the carousel on its homepage, for example, which regularly features pop culture references from Mean Girls to Parks and Recreation.

Not limited to the website, the comical tone is used across its full range of digital channels. Almost any copy that an audience reads contains a humorous quip. This is designed to make them want to discover more – something that’s central to its “make our customers love us” mantra.

Innocent Drinks

“We’ve always talked to everyone in the same way we talk to our friends,” Innocent copywriter Lucie Bright told the Guardian in 2014, “but with fewer swear words. It’s how we started off, and we saw no reason to change as we got bigger.”

The smoothie and juice drinks brand was among the first to employ an unconventional, light-hearted tone in the late 1990s. It seemed revolutionary because it sounded as though Innocent was actually talking to someone – rather than simply trying to sell them something.

Marks & Spencer

When Marks & Spencer launched a new magazine-style website in 2014, its tone of voice became suitably more editorial. The brand repositioned itself as a daily publisher of style-related content rather than an online clothing retailer.

The food side of its business, meanwhile, has successfully used memorable catchphrases like “This is not just…” to emphasise its high-quality, value-for-money ethos; a tactic also used in its Christmas adverts, with the 2013 commercial featuring the memorable “Magic & Sparkle” slogan.

HubSpot

In the B2B realm, online marketing company HubSpot stands out from its competitors by ditching the personality-void tone of whitepapers, reports and how-to guides in favour of enthusiastic, positive and helpful copy that drives customers to its marketing apps.

Rather than academic-style analyses, the tone is based on the concept of immediacy – which has allowed HubSpot to position itself as a go-to resource for actionable tips, processes and templates.

Paddy Power

Behind the Irish bookmaker’s notorious publicity stunts is a tone of voice that’s cheeky and undeniably witty. It may occasionally grate on audiences, but the distinctly laddish personality helps Paddy Power to stand out in a particularly crowded marketplace.

Part of the success is down to the company knowing precisely who makes up its audience: young men. It knows that if they are kept entertained by topical, easily digested and ballsy content, they’ll keep coming back for more.

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