How We Think

Watch Your Tone

May 16, 2019

“Don’t you take that tone with me!” If you are a child or someone’s spouse, you’ve probably heard this phrase at least 2 or 10 times this past week. Why? Because it’s not always about what you say, but how you say it. Establishing your tone of voice is important because you want people to easily recognize your brand and accurately communicates who you are. For example:

A restaurant may say something like:

Our 100% Angus beef artisan burgers are hand-crafted with organic produce and chef-inspired ingredients.

Or they could say:

Big, juicy burgers piled high with all your favorite fixin’s!

The overall message is the same, but the tone is completely different in language, personality, structure, and tone. Neither is wrong, as long as they effectively communicate the brand’s personality, culture, and values.

Defining your brand’s personality helps establish your tone. To define your personality, think of your business as a person (you, perhaps?), and your audience as that person’s (your) friends — how your business’s tone/personality is communicated to your audience is much like how you would communicate and be known to your friends. Let’s take a quick quiz:

• Confident boss or conversational leader?

• Communicate with storytelling or straight to the point email?

• Suit or jeans?

• Extroverted or introverted?

• Traditional or way out there?

• Beyoncé or Beyoncé?


You get the idea.

Think about it this way. If I asked my team for an update on a project, I might say, “Hey there, where are we at on the website project?” However, if one day I decided I didn’t want to speak in my hearty Midwestern-raised non-accent and opt for my deep-in-the-heart-of-Texas-born southern drawl, I might say, “Alright, y’all. This website’s fixin’ to go live and if it ain’t ready and rarin’ to go by the end of the week there’s gonna be trouble with a capital T.” And even though I personally find southern dialect endearing, I understand that my co-workers would find that strange because I haven’t established myself as a southern belle (yet). Consistency and accuracy are key to establishing your tone of voice and to be authentic with your audience.

Tone of voice is one of those things that does not happen overnight, but it can really help your brand thrive. Given the number of brands out there and our very short attention spans, it’s important to make sure your tone of voice is engaging customers, sharing your personality, building trust, strengthening and reinforcing your brand, and most importantly helping to generate sales.