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Guest blog

How would you describe your brand’s “tone of voice”?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Photo credit: CC BY-NC

The word “brand” derived from the Old Norse word brandr meaning to burn. It refers to the practice of producers burning their mark (or brand) onto their products. You can imagine how the practice might have been important for differentiating your cattle from those of your next door neighbours!

In today’s dynamic marketing landscape, the cattle could be anything from mobile phone networks to microwaves and mops; they all need to be differentiated within their marketplace. To brand something is to create a set of expectations, ideas, communications and messages that, once blended, account for a consumer’s decision to choose your product over someone else’s. It’s the brand’s personality.

As a proofreader, I have worked with a number of brand personalities – each with a unique tone of voice. The tone of voice governs what and how the brand’s personality and messages are conveyed in writing, including how the words are styled and formatted. The proofreader’s task is to read the piece of marketing collateral checking for such things as typos and missing words, but also matching the vocabulary, grammar, writing style and formatting to the tone of voice directions within the style guide.

Innocent Drinks’ tone of voice (TOV) is personal, informal and perhaps a little cheeky. Google’s is straightforward – some might say irreverent; P&O’s voice is authoritative, welcoming and approachable; the British Council’s voice is worldly, inspiring and inclusive.

As a lover of words and how they play, it fascinates me that marketers need interesting language to build affection and loyalty among their audiences. Each brand needs to differentiate their products from their neighbours through words, rather than hot brandishing irons. A lot less painful!

Guest Blog by Lindsay McLoughlin, Proofed by Linds

a proofreading and copywriting service for web, print and publicity materials. She works with business owners and marketing companies to polish and improve marketing and business materials.

The First Impression Is A Lasting Impression

Saturday, June 23, 2012


“Mind-numbingly tedious” “mindless nonsense” and “lamentable” - comments that greeted BBC coverage of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Flotilla. The press has even suggested this fiasco will influence who gets to be the new BBC Director General.

The BBC was founded on the Reithian principles “to enrich the intellectual and cultural life of the nation”. The mature amongst us remember royal broadcasts of Richard Dimbleby who was precise in his facts and intelligent in his comments. The mismatch of the coverage of the Jubilee Flotilla with the high minded branding of the BBC resulted in people feeling outraged and let down.

Mismatching of a company's brand and their performance is serious. For example, when a company has gained an outstanding reputation and brand, it is at the very least, strangely out of keeping for the CEO and senior team to trip up by being anxious and stressed during their presentation. Public Speaking comes second on the list of things people most dread. Most people will admit to being anxious about being in the spotlight in front of an audience. However, when a business leader and their team is making a critical pitch for millions of pounds worth of business, can they afford to trip up like this?

Decision makers want reassurance that the choice they make is with people who are authentic and trustworthy. When choosing to buy, their first encounter is at the presentation stage. First impressions are lasting impressions. Decision makers are alert not only to the content of a presentation, they’ll also zero in on body language and voice to detect the intention of the presenters. They cannot begin to have confidence if the leadership team is uncertain in their performance.

To win the bid, to make the sale, to develop the relationship takes powerful, authoritative and authentic leadership. To achieve this, the team and especially their leader need to be a well trained, well rehearsed and confident. Since the outcome of the bid depends on presentation leadership, the company needs to devote the same amount of trouble to acquire outstanding presentation performance too.

Guest Blog by Sarah McCloughry, founder and Director of Anrah Development Ltd

Anrah helps senior people and their teams in a technical field win stakeholder buy-in and business through engaging and persuasive performance in meetings and presentations. We help particularly women leaders and their teams such as scientists, engineers, accountants and lawyers inspire others at the highest level with their gravitas and presence.