Posted by Megan Oldcorn
3 March, 2015

Tone of voice is something that I talk about a lot. In a nutshell, it’s how your company speaks – whether that’s in person, through images, or in text. A strong, relevant tone of voice is a key part of branding. Imagine meeting Grace Kelly, only to find her swearing and shouting.

Let’s take a look at five companies that communicate really, really well, and consider why.

Innocent

If there’s a tastier fruit out there, we’ll eat our halo

Why it works

Innocent have always been masters of tone of voice. Their text is short, easy, and very friendly. The reference to the halo (above), a recognisable part of the brand, shows that Innocent’s happy to have fun with its own image. Unfussiness in language chimes absolutely with the company principles of simple, natural products. What’s more, it goes right through everything they do, from product labels to the newsletter sign-up form.

John Lewis

Transform your room into a retreat for sleep

Why it works

People have an expectation of quality when they interact with John Lewis, whether in-store or online. On a sales level, its website text works because of its calls to action (‘Get a head start’, and ‘treat yourself’ among them.) Adding action into statements gets people into the mindset of doing (i.e. shopping), rather than browsing. Additionally, a sense of luxury and elegance is created with words like ‘sanctuary’, ‘sumptuous’, and ‘exclusively’. Who wouldn’t want to buy into that?

Flybe

Checking in for your flight just got a whole lot easier

Why it works

Like Innocent, Flybe knows the value of keeping it simple. Passengers don’t want a lot of off-putting instructions and reams of text: all they want to know is what they have to do, so they can get to their destination. Flybe’s tone is fun, upbeat, and action-filled. It’s also considerate, anticipating the worries and stresses of customers and reassuring them through careful use of words like ‘relax’ and ‘comfort’. It’s just the right mix of excitement and leisure.

Waterstones

Every month we pick three show-stopping, day-eating, unputdownable books

Why it works

Waterstones is a company of comparatively few words. Stacked high with books, its website largely leaves the talking to the authors. But what is there works hard. In line with the retailer’s commitment to portraying itself as passionate, interesting, and knowledgeable, it’s developed a quirky, engaging tone of voice. It’s highly personable, with a chatty, friendly feel, and uses excited, positive words. To balance this out, and stop it from feeling like a nine year-old girl at a picnic, there’s also an underlying sense of professionalism and seriousness that fits with what you’d expect of a traditional bookseller. To me, Waterstones feels like an intelligent, funny friend that just happens to be a bit in love with books.

Vivienne Westwood

The Red Label girl was born in the country […] She knows the name of all the trees and she’s always been a reader.

Why it works

Someone like Vivienne Westwood doesn’t need to drive sales in the same way that other companies might. Nevertheless, her website text is stunning. Westwood uses the idea of personas – fictional characters that sum up her muse or typical customer – beautifully. Describing fashion collections as a person transforms them from pieces of clothing to something altogether more relatable. People are generally more keen to buy into a story.

Feeling inspired? If you’re concerned that your tone of voice might not match your brand, we can take a look, suggest changes, and create an easy guide for applying them. Email contact@nixondesign.com or telephone 01736 758600.

Join the discussion…