Brands are no longer just businesses—they’re practically people. Think of any big brand and you’ll realise that most household names are tied to a specific personality, from the motherly, empowering energy Dove resonates or the masculine but comedic persona Old Spice embodies.
This phenomenon of humanising a brand is not new, but has been revitalised in recent years along the rise of apps like TikTok, which blurs the lines between brands and consumers. This means building connections between the two is more accessible than ever, and a brand persona is the best strategy to go about it. Personifying a brand builds connection, familiarity, and endearment among users: where 82% of them feel more positive about a brand after engaging with more personalised content, this is a bandwagon no brand would miss out on—and managing your brand’s tone of voice is how you achieve it.
What is tone of voice?
If creating a solid brand personality is the destination, the tone of voice is the ship you sail to get there. This is the method of delivery—it is the vessel in which your message is packaged. More than the message itself, this reveals how the brand feels about the message and communicates its own values onto the viewer. This builds recognition among not just your audience, but the general public: this fortifies how brands are perceived.
To beef up the brand’s public image, a consistent and authentic tone of voice is key. Consistency is only reflected over time, so the brand’s tone of voice has to be uniform across all channels and mediums of communication. It is this consistency that builds trust and loyalty among your audience.
Building a Brand Tone of Voice
While consistency is pretty straight forward to hit, authenticity can be pretty vague by way of advice. Simply put, your brand’s voice and persona should be a natural extension of the brand’s existing values and goals. Think of Apple, for instance: their videos across social media exudes a clean, modern, and professional aura, which reflects the cutting-edge and minimalistic values Apple’s own products possess. There are three steps to consider when crafting a voice for your own brand when it comes to applying it in brand videos.
Understanding your audience
All marketers know the drill. This is the starting point for building your voice and personality, and the question you must answer is: Who is your video for? To know who exactly your audience wants your brand to be, you need to first know what makes them tick. What social media platforms do they use? Do they respond better to friendly messaging, or one that emits more authority? What are their likes, dislikes, habits, routines, so on and so forth. This should help mould a sense of the voice they would resonate with best. Your messaging then should reflect all of this information and more: the core of your video should help or benefit your audience in some way.
One misstep some brands make is shifting their voice according to consumers at different spots of the funnel. What should change is the messaging, not the voice, returning to the point of consistency. Though they have different needs, desires, and require different kinds of information, the voice in response to different audiences should remain the same.
Finding your purpose
Deciding the purpose of your video (or any form of medium, in fact) goes hand in hand with understanding your audience: audience research informs your purpose and vice versa. The key question to answer here is a two parter: What does your brand want to achieve with this video, and how does it fit into your audience’s lives?
A clear, distinct purpose is crucial for smooth video production. From scriptwriting to storyboarding, the key message of the video has to be delivered with clarity, and the consistent tone of voice so heavily emphasised here can only be consistent when all aspects of production have the same goal.
Delivering your message
The last step is the actual delivery. By now, you’ve done the legwork: you know your purpose for this project and who your audience is. The tone of voice to package these two within is what’s next, and can be delivered through more than actual script—it can be conveyed through colour, specific shots, even though motion graphics and editing. Still, it’s one thing to explain, and another to see for yourself: here are some examples below!
Fun and casual: Auntie Knows The Real Deals by foodpanda
Online food and grocery platform foodpanda is known for their enthusiastic and colloquial tone of voice, which undoubtedly scores points among locals here. This promotion video for their vouchers reflects just that. It’s fun, casual, and doesn’t take itself too seriously, depicting a stereotypical in-the-know auntie showing off her exclusive deals to a number of youths—through a rap.
Classy and feminine: It’s All About Seconds by Chanel
French luxury fashion house Chanel exudes opulence through and through. This brand video for their new J12 watch is a case study in how the little things add up to overall branding and tone of voice. The black and white colour scheme and quick cuts elude to an elegant, yet confident persona, and Margot Robbie’s position as a brand ambassador serves as the cherry on top to exhibit Chanel’s pull. The brand here also benefits from Margot’s own reputation as a feminine, but powerful, personality, and becomes associated with the latter’s own personal brand.
Quirky and down-to-earth: Wow No Cow by Oatly
Dairy alternative brand Oatly is all about being genuine and off-beat. Throughout every communication platform, the brand does not shy away from telling it like it is, doing away with pretentious branding and moving towards advocating honesty. This brand video for their oat milk—although met with mixed reception—encompasses everything Oatly claims to be. Their own CEO, Toni Petersson sings a jingle in a field in the middle of nowhere: strange, but was a hot topic nonetheless when the ad was screened at this year’s Super Bowl.
Finding Your Own Tune
Ultimately, choosing your brand’s tone of voice ultimately depends on the persona the brand aims to build, and should be informed by the firm’s audience and purpose. The biggest takeaway is to understand that the voice should not be one-dimensional: much like the examples above, different elements can be mixed and matched to create the perfect fit.
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