Brand & Marketing Strategy

Tone of Voice: What Is It, Why Do I Need It & How Do I Get One?


We all know about the importance of creating a strong, recognisable brand. And defining a tone of voice for your small business is part of that. It includes everything from the way you write on social media to the language used in your advertising. And it has a big impact on the way people perceive your small business.

So, I’m going to discuss exactly what tone of voice is and why it’s important. And I’ll help you find your own unique tone of voice to give your small business marketing a boost. Let’s get started!

What is tone of voice?

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In branding, your tone of voice is not only what you say, but how you say it. It embodies the personality and values of your small business and communicates this through everything you write.

It usually refers to the written word. But it can also be applied to the spoken word for most small businesses. Your tone of voice will affect the way you write newsletters, social media posts, reports, adverts, website copy, leaflets and everything in between.

For example, a brand’s language can be funny, professional, inspiring, friendly, educational, serious or honest… the list goes on! And it’s not just the words you use which can define this. Tone of voice is all about the style of your sentences, the slang or jargon you use, and even whether or not you use emojis.

Find out more about jargon in your marketing copy, when to use it and when to avoid it.

Why do I need It?

There are many benefits to having a unique tone of voice. Firstly, it sets you apart from your competitors. Having a tone of voice that’s instantly recognisable will make people remember your small business.

It can also help to build trust with customers. Having a consistent and familiar voice will make people more likely to view you as an authoritative and trustworthy source.

Your tone of voice can also humanise your brand, making customers feel like they’re talking to an actual person rather than a faceless business.

Perhaps most importantly, in marketing terms, having a good tone of voice can also influence people and persuade them to buy from your business. The way you say things can have a big impact on how customers perceive you, whether they trust you and how likely they are to buy from you.

How do I get one?

So, now you know what a tone of voice is and why having one is important for your small business. But how do you go about creating your own tone of voice that’s perfect for your business? Here are 4 steps to help you with that.

1. Define your values

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Start by having a think about what the important core values of your business are. What matters to you? What do you want customers to know?

Have a brainstorm and consider why you set your small business up in the first place. Ask yourself how you’re different from competitors and what moral values are important to you.

Once you’ve done this, reduce your values down to a few key words that really define what you’re all about. For example, Irn Bru might be described as “cheeky, fun, irreverent” while John Lewis might use buzzwords like “trustworthy, traditional, quality”.

2. Choose your language

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Keeping these buzzwords in mind, it’s now time to define what kind of language you’ll use. Will it be formal or informal? Will you use slang, pop culture references, online acronyms or swearing? Is the aim to sound like a conversation between friends, or between business associates?

Think about how you’ll refer to your small business – will you use we rather than I? Will you use the word “you” to refer directly to customers?

You may want to have a look at how customers are already talking about your business. For example, have a look at their online reviews and social media replies to get an idea of how formal or informal your audience wants you to be.

But don’t forget: They way you write – from the adjectives you use to the structure of your sentences – should always reflect your values, but still feel like a natural conversation.

3. Make use of humour

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Having a humorous tone of voice isn’t right for every brand, but for the majority of small businesses, a little bit of humour can be a great thing.

You don’t have to be cracking knock knock jokes every two minutes! But just have a think about whether some funny language might fit in well with your brand values. This can help you create a quirky, cheeky or endearing tone of voice that really resonates with customers. 

The level of humour you use will depend on your business. For some, a few slang words and emojis might be all you need. But other businesses may choose a more sarcastic tone of voice.

Innocent, the smoothie company is a great example of a business using humour to create a unique tone of voice. As is Irn Bru!

4. Be authentic and consistent

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There’s no point in creating an elaborate, hilarious tone of voice for your small business if it doesn’t fit in with your brand values. If writing that way doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s probably not the right tone of voice for your small business.

Instead, work on creating an authentic tone of voice which really represents what you’re all about. And not something you think is trendy at the moment, or what works well for other businesses.

It’s also really important to be consistent with your tone of voice, particularly if multiple people will be creating content for the business. It’s a good idea to create a brand guidelines document with information about exactly what your tone of voice is, and what is and isn’t appropriate when writing for the business.

This makes it easy to keep your tone of voice consistent across multiple platforms and multiple members of staff.


To read more about this topic, have a look at these:
Small Business Brand: What Is It, Why Do I Need One & How Do I Get One?
Why Jargon Can Ruin Your Marketing Content & How to Avoid it
12 Essential Tips to Write Better Marketing Copy for Your Small Business
Actionable Marketing Copy: How to Convert More Leads for Your Small Business

Denise Strohsahl brand and marketing consultant for small businesses

Hello, I’m Denise from sandstonecastles, a brand & marketing consultancy based in Edinburgh, Scotland.

I help small business owners like yourself to find the right marketing that’s in line with your brand and values.