Schwa discuss how tone-of-voice can be the missing piece of the puzzle that brings different strands of your brand strategy together.

The amount of navel-gazing brands are supposed to do is pretty intense nowadays. Values, behaviours, corporate purpose, manifesto – and that’s just for starters.  

But we’ve noticed a bit of problem with all this polished, high-profile thinking over the years: it doesn’t really work. It won’t make your brand more passionate, empathetic, radically rebellious or charmingly playful. Not one jot.

In fact, it can quickly seem like a sham if your other writing doesn’t match up.

READ: Rebranding - Common mistakes and how to avoid them

If your tone of voice isn’t true to your values et al, you’re in trouble

We’ve all seen this; company values like warmth and compassion, followed by a series of robotic-sounding emails. Purpose statements about efficiency and speed, bookended by PowerPoint presentations of longwinded waffle. Manifestos where brands insist they put their people first and then refer to them as ‘resources’ in the next breath. 

So how do you navigate this maze of brand strategy, culture and comms? Well, here are three suggestions for starters.

1. Avoid brand strategy document overkill

In the words of that famous modern philosopher, Bad Santa, ‘do you really need all that sh*t?’ 

In our experience the more documents, keywords and catchphrases you throw at a brand the less likely you are to see anything stick. Our advice? Bring everything together – tone, personality, values, behaviours and purpose – under one, easy to remember banner. (We know of a well-known UK high street bank that did just that and it works a treat.)

2. Nail your tone of voice and use it internally and externally

The more your people are surrounded by the right kind of writing – in job ads and descriptions, company policies, papers and yep, purpose statements – then, like osmosis, the better they’ll get at writing that way themselves.

READ: Branding hierarchy - Getting it right from the top down and bottom up

3. Be consistent

Does your brand sound like a dream when there’s good news to give? When you’ve hit your targets and promotions are in the air? That’s great. But unless you stick to your tone when times are tough, you might as well build your brand personality on sand. 

I’m not suggesting you get all poetic next time you have a round of redundancies to announce. Just being a shade more:

"We will need to lose some of you over the next year."

And a whole lot less:

"An estimation has been made of the reduction of 12,500 factory direct and professional employees over the next year."

(Stephen Elop, we’re still looking at you.)

That should do the trick. 

Your brand language is your brand

So if you already have a tone of voice, take a look at it with fresh eyes. Could it be the missing piece of the puzzle that brings the different strands of your brand strategy together?

Download: The (Re)Brand Workbook

Schwa are a GO! Network agency specialising in tone of voice. If you'd like to connect with agencies that can support on your tone of voice, or any other requirements, get in touch here.

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