18th February 2021

The importance of brand tone of voice

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Lauren Irwin

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At the root of every great brand is a story and you can't have a story without a voice.

When I was little, I watched Sleeping Beauty and The Little Mermaid on repeat. I didn’t like Disney princesses. I liked the villains. I liked Ursula the Sea Witch best. What that says about me, we’ll leave to a therapist and another time.

What I loved were the songs, though I’m not a big fan of musicals. Poor unfortunate souls was my favourite and still is and I find it funny that every time I begin a new brand project, the same lines always click into my head.

“I'm not asking much, just a token really, a trifle! What I want from you is - your voice.”

- Ursula, Sea Witch

Ariel is expectedly anxious, “But without my voice, how can I—” and Ursula interjects, “You’ll have your looks, your pretty face."

That’s how a lot of people feel about branding too. That it’s simply visual and in worst cases only a logo. That when everything is thrown at how a brand looks, its consumers will connect and relate.

When I think of a brand like Chanel, I think of Coco. I think black and white. Expensive. Classy. I think about when I wear my Chanel perfume, everyone tells me I smell nice. Beyond that? I don’t think about Chanel at all.

Nothing about the brand connects with me and that’s partly because I’m not their primary audience. Or am I? Their core values promote culture, art, creativity and the ‘savoir-faire.’ When I look at their website, I don’t see anything aspirational - I just see the unattainable. I don’t see a story. I don’t see how I get from here to there - but my Grandma wore Chanel so I do too.

It's not the brand's story that has me hooked, it's mine.

I’m not saying Chanel, one of the biggest and most influential fashion brands of our time is doing it wrong. However, somewhere down the line, there’s become a disconnect between a brand and its consumers. Maybe it’s this generation. The influencer. More specifically the ones that push a brand without really understanding the product or what the brand itself stands for. I think about detox teas using influencers to promote a product that our body naturally does, with people who spend hours in the gym to look the way they do. It’s not genuine and again falls back to an image.

Times are a-changing. People want authenticity. Good looks just aren't good enough.

That’s why a brand’s voice is so very important. Call it the tone of voice, call it a verbal identity. It all roots down to how a brand communicates itself through language. The narrative it creates. The centre of a brand's character and the root from which its visuals stem. Lexicon, semantics, its nuances - language evokes feelings and they can be good but they can be bad too.

Brand voice deepens relationships, maintains loyalty, gives purpose, shapes communities and ideas, reminds us of those memorable straplines like Just Do It and Taste The Rainbow. It forms internal cultures and makes employees want to advocate a brand because they believe in it, everything it stands for and everything it says.

If a brand loses its voice or doesn't even have one in the first place, it's not going to stand the tests of time in an ever-evolving consumer landscape. Looks may fade but personality lasts forever. It's hard to recover from a bad brand preception when the language isn't there to redefine proposition and identity.

Branding has been at the heart of what Abstrakt does since its conception. If you think your brand could do with a little linguistical polish, get in touch with the team and we'd be happy to discuss your brand, what it means to you and most importantly, your consumers.

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