Tone of Voice Copywriting > Tone of Voice Guidelines

Tone of Voice guidelines

What are tone of voice guidelines?


A brand is like a person: it has a personality and talks in a certain way. Customers pick up on this tone of voice intuitively. Tone of voice guidelines define this personality. They also explain how to create it when you write. So they have lots of tips and 'before and after' examples. They usually start by describing the brand and how it's different. Then the guidelines will offer suggestions of how to write for the brand.

Why are tone of voice guidelines important?


  • Differentiation – in a mature market, competing products can appear similar to consumers. Writing in a distinctive tone of voice reveals the essential character of the brand allowing customers to connect to it. It gives consumers a feeling of what it would be like to meet or work with the brand. That emotional connection is intuitive and can be more powerful than the brand's rational benefits. A distinctive tone of voice works for you all the time, as you apply it across all your communications. Think of the playful lines on Tesco van sides, like 'Freshly clicked'. They help to make Tesco's a warmer, more fun brand, adding appeal. They lend it a humanity.

  • Improving writing– simple rules, illustrated with examples, help writers in your business improve their writing. A tone of voice guidelines should be on everyone's desktop because good writing improves everyone's effectiveness. Just take one good writing principle - economy. Imagine the time savings if every email, memo and document only used as many words as were needed to explain an idea. 

  • Good writing and Consistency - errors in writing that are customer-facing tarnish a brand. Dull, long-winded writing can put people off, reducing sales. Falsely chirpy writing can make consumers feel your brand is inauthentic. Tone of voice guidelines help writers to write well and avoid mistakes and tone of voice blunders.

What is important in tone of voice guidelines?


  • Difference – when creating a tone of voice, it’s easy to sound like other brands. Most tone of voice guidelines encourage you to write in a 'human', informal way. Few truly differentiate the writing so it is recognisably distinctive. Identifying what is at the core of your brand and finding a way of conveying that through language is crucial.

  • Simplicity and practicality  – if the guidelines provide too much detail, they can become impractical as most people don’t have the time to read them. What’s required is enough background and rationale to explain the evoke the brand and explain the tone of voice principles. Then there should be easy-to-find, specific guidance for how to write in the tone of voice - plus checklists for quick reference.

  • Motivation - everyone who writes for your company - both for internal and external communications - has to be fired up to achieve the tone of voice. So you'd better make sure the tone of voice guidelines are easy to read, accessible and inspiring.

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How we can​ help with tone of voice guidelines

  • Brand consultancy experience – we work with many of London’s leading brand consultancies, so we understand what the brand strategists are aiming to achieve, and we know how language can contribute to brand perception.

  • Create a distinctive tone of voice - to differentiate a brand through language you need to combine brand consultancy insight with knowledge of the English language and how it works, plus experience of copywriting across different media for a range of audiences.

  • Brand writing experience in many sectors - having written extensively for major brands over the last 20 years we are well placed to provide practical advice on how to write for a brand.

  • Easy to implement - our tone of voice guidelines are always simple to follow and offer practical advice. As a result, anyone can achieve the effects for the brand. You don’t need to be a professional writer.

  • Flexing the tone of voice – we provide guidance on the writing requirements of different media and how to flex a tone of voice for medium, message and audience.

Get in touch

"Barnaby Benson worked as an integral part of the team responsible for developing the new tone of voice for Lloyds TSB and implementing that across all key brochures. Having worked with Barnaby Benson on a series of projects over the years I have been consistently impressed with the speed at which he gets beneath the surface of the project, understands the client and their brand."

Carrie Stokes

CF Stokes Consultants

Download your free tone of voice PDF
How to write tone of voice guidelines that differentiate your brand

Barnaby Benson Copywriting Agency, UK

Barnaby Benson Ltd is a leading UK copywriting agency. Based in London, we provide copywriting services for many agencies and brands. We offer a wide range of writing services with a strong reputation for tone of voice.  Want to find the right words to make your point? Get in touch with us; we can help.

Barnaby Benson Ltd, Copywriting Agency, 211 Norwood Road, London, SE24 9AG 

Tel: 020 8674 3551  Contact Us

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