Tone of voice vs brand language

What’s the difference? Does it even matter?

The truth is often we just refer to it by whatever our clients call it (they’re paying the bill, after all).

But here’s the thing: neither are quite up to the job.
Tone of voice is too narrow.
So is brand language.

To get the big benefits, just think of it as your organisation’s language. So it becomes ‘Cisco’s language’, say, or ‘Mandarin Oriental’s language’.

Now I should say I think the ‘tone of voice’ and ‘brand language’ labels are absolutely fine, it’s just that they’ve got baggage. When you read them a little switch flips in your brain and not surprisingly the word ‘brand’ flashes up in glitzy (and carefully RGB-specific) letters. Whichever label you choose, to people in your organisation it looks like brand’s bag – and not something the folks in HR, customer experience, L&D or anywhere else need worry about.

Only it is. And just calling it your language makes that plain.

Language. Changing the label makes it a much bigger deal.

At the nuts and bolts level of writing it’s not just about ‘tone’ anymore, but what choices you need to make so your message comes across most effectively. What content to use and what to leave out, and how to structure it to make things easy for your reader.

Then if we jump up to the jumbo company scale, it immediately gives you licence to apply your language to the kinds of things those ‘brand’ labels don’t get you near. Everything from bid writing to complaint handling, HR policies to annual reports.

It’s suddenly the entire business’s language, even if behind the scenes it’s brand who are pulling the strings.

It’s everyone’s responsibility and something everyone can use. And that means more people will reap the rewards of applying it to what they do.

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