Corporate design as a graphic part of corporate identity has been in use for over 100 years. But the idea of a corporate language, a tone of voice, is still quite new, even though a tailor-made brand language can matter, e.g., reduce costs and increase revenues, demonstrate creativity and innovation, and at the same time create identity.
In a nutshell, “tone of voice” stands for how your organization sounds and in what style it speaks and writes. According to Congree Language Technologies, a linguistic identity primarily answers three essential questions:
1. What are we (not) talking about? Are we sticking very closely to our products and services, or can the field also be wider? Are we only talking about ourselves or are we talking about competition and the industry too? Do we include general social issues, or do we even have a public opinion on political issues – or explicitly not?
2. How do we structure what we talk about? This can involve white papers, articles, blog posts, social media, ... up to the structure of individual texts, considering the number of paragraphs, the use of subheadings, or if texts should be more essay-like or closer to a press release in terms of structure.
3. In what tonality do we talk about it? How formal or colloquial is the writing? Do we just provide information, or do we tell anecdotes too? How direct are we? Are our texts straightforward or are they sometimes playful?
Anyway, a clear “tone of voice”, that’s understood and accepted by the writers, ensures a consistent writing style, possibly for the entire company. Of course, it can be limited to external communication or include internal communication as well. In any case, you shouldn't underestimate the benefits of sounding more interesting, clearer, and more understandable than your competition in today's flood of information.
Hopefully your texts will then be just as distinctive as your logo as it can bring a whole range of advantages:
- Increase income: if your offers are clearer and easier to understand, you have a better chance of getting business or orders.
- Reduce costs: when your product descriptions are clearer and your call center scripts are better structured, you can save support time. Not to mention that better communication reduces internal friction too.
- Increase trust: if you make your contracts, terms and conditions, as well as sales pages understandable, your customers will feel they are in good hands.
- Improve products: if one of your main "products" is communication, like concepts and reports for agencies and consultants, then your products will automatically improve.
- Increase creativity: how we speak and write greatly influences how we think. A fresh language can therefore bring a breath of fresh air into well-established paradigms.
And when you consider a brand language that is really tailored to your company and its values, not only do the benefits mentioned above become more distinct – creating identity is allowed too. If your language and style suit you and your values, then that makes you more memorable and less interchangeable. And isn't that the whole point of a brand?
If you are giving your company a tone of voice, then you should consider what types of texts you want to cover with it. In general, branded language takes care of three categories of text:
- Names: Is there a consistent concept behind what your products, services or meeting rooms are called? Can a customer tell from the name which is the basic product, and which is the premium product?
- Core phrases: short texts, sentences, or sentence fragments that you use again and again, like your tagline or the complimentary close under your emails. For instance, at Ben & Jerry’s, emails are always signed with "Peace, Love & Ice Cream".
- Texts: articles, blog posts, websites, and reports; offers, advertisements, white papers and manuals, SMS, emails and social media posts, in other words everything that is written in external and internal communication and does not fall into the first two categories.
If you need a brand language that is fully tailored to you, based on your values and your brand personality, or just a simple, basic tone of voice that will help you and your company sound more understandable and interesting, make up your mind – it’s worth it.
By Daniela La Marca