‘Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’, is oft trotted out in a bid to soothe the feelings of those who have been taunted or mocked. The adage proclaims that verbal attacks cannot penetrate one’s psyche and cause annoyance and discomfort which, unfortunately, is not all that accurate. Words can rouse us and inspire great emotion, it also true that they can cause irritation and misery. And it’s not just the words that are uttered, it’s in the utterance. Tone of voice is pivotal to how interactions are understood. Just the slight alteration in the lilt of a familiar voice when calling your name can have you running through your most recent transgressions in your head, wondering for which one you have been found out for and mentally preparing varying alibis and excuses. Tone of voice allows for more to be communicated than is verbally said and that includes tone of voice when it comes to marketing communications.
Carving out a synonymous tone of voice extremely important for brands, take Innocent for example, their copy is ultra-friendly and personable. It speaks to the consumer as if a close relationship exists; Lucie Bright, Innocent’s Copywriter, comments, “We’ve always talked to everyone in the same way we talk to our friends, but with fewer swear words. It’s how we started off, and we saw no reason to change as we got bigger.” The saccharine theme is consistent throughout all branding and the company website, Innocent invite people to “pick up the banana phone” if they want to connect to the company headquarters, which boasts the moniker “Fruit Towers”. The use of “you” and “we” is very prevalent on all packaging, Innocent are clearly keen to project an image of people behind the packaging. And while it was started by three university friends in 1999, it was bought out by the mega-corporation Coke in 2013, which slightly dilutes the message.
However, do consumers enjoy being addressed in such a personable way? A backlash was inevitable and in recent years a deluge of articles have been spawned, lamenting the chummy tone of voice employed by brands. The blurring of the line between brands and buddies is maligned by many, with the feeling that the tone of voice employed is infantilising. Writing for The Guardian, Sophy Grimshaw notes, ‘What Innocent did was daring in the late 1990s, but its influence has spread, so that an awful lot of packaging has an overly twee bent.’ Innocent’s copywriting style has been much imitated and perhaps the saturation of the market with similar styles is to blame for the backlash; after all, too much of a good thing…
Brand Value and Tone of Voice
Quantifying an appropriate tone of voice can be tricky, brand values have to be defined and then copy created that is in line. In order for brands to be authentic a consistent tone of voice needs to be present. A slightly trickier concept is defining a tone of voice that is uniquely associated with the company and communicates the message appropriately and effortlessly. Tone of voice is an extension of a brands’ messaging and therefor their identity, both of which are pivotal in establishing a successful business.
At Spotlight Recruitment we are proud to work with excellent Copywriters across multiple disciplines, so if you have a vacancy then please do get in touch to see how we can assist you. Or alternatively, if you’re the crème de la crème of Copywriters, please submit your CV so that we can match you with your next exciting challenge.