Voice & Tone

“The most fascinating part was receiving the end result of the voice and tone design:
it set me straight and helped me organize things in the best way possible before rebuilding the website.”
Revital Slonim, Brand manager

What on earth is it

Is your brand’s voice and tone funny or serious, stiff or soft, approachable or stand-offish, stirring or appropriate?

Voice and tone design is a short process whereby the personality of the brand and the messages that will influence its target audience are fully and accurately defined.

After you have defined your brand’s voice and tone:

  • The personality of the brand will be consistent, credible and compelling the whole way.
  • Every word you write will be deliberately chosen, focused, persuasive, and helpful for your users.
  • Your target audience will easily understand the value of your offering and the need it fulfills.
  • The call for action will be simple and more effective.
When to do it

Following are the 7 critical stages where I recommend designing a voice and tone, if you haven’t yet designed it:

  1. Creating a new brand – as an integral part of the branding process, together with the visual branding.
  2. Release of a new or upgraded website or app.
  3. Starting a process of sharpening your brand’s differentiation, presenting to users the brand’s benefits and messages that distinguish it from the competition.
  4. Setting up a new digital campaign.
  5. Creation or upgrading of the organization’s written communication infrastructure (email, chat, and social media).
  6. Before entering a new market with a new target audience.
  7. The minute you understand that the words and messages you currently use simply don’t work.
How it's done

The full voice and tone design process includes four stages, and at every stage you’ll discover important insights.

If you lack the time or budget, stages 2 and 3 are critical.

  1. Stage 1: Read design and branding documents written so far, and extract essential information about the brand (vision, mision, values, challenges and more).
  2. Stage 2: Listen to what the target audience says and extract good quotes, authentic phrases, words that repeat themselves, and what users see as motivators and setbacks. Use facebook groups, usability testing, surveys and interviews.
  3. Stage 3: Hold a group interview with the organization’s key personnel. In small businesses and blogs, this is probably you, and you can do this session with team members, a strategic consultant, or a close friend whose advice you appreciate. In this interview, ask about the brand and target audience. It usually lasts about 3 hours, and by the end of the meeting you should have a rich, detailed and interesting portrayal of the brand’s personality.
  4. Stage 4: Produce the voice and tone design.This is basically a working document that brings together and organizes all the information you came by in the previous steps, and is used to guide the actual writing of microcopy (and other kinds of content).

A full list of the resources you need to overview and the questions you need to ask, are provided in the first chapter of the book Microcopy: The Complete Guide.

Do it yourself

Design your brand’s voice and tone with the step-by-step guide