A snappy evaluation of “tone of voice” in the branding business.
When the phrase "tone of voice" is thrown about; my memory machine (precariously lodged somewhere between my ears) begins to kick into gear. It chugs, whirs and splutters visuals of my mother telling me off in the kitchen. Certainly deserving of an earful, I did often lean towards cheeky, inappropriate, rude or loud outbursts as a child - just like many of you I’m sure. I’d sulk, whine and bleat - but many moons on it turns out I learnt something:
Learn to read a situation, and the people involved. Understand what you want, and articulate accordingly.
Isn’t it funny how a good tellin’ off has taught me more practical advice than hours of mental slog over a mathematical equation. Sc#@w you Mr Price - I knew Algebra was pointless.
In our industry, the phrase is an umbrella term; used to house both the visual and written aspects of your brand. It should dictate the manner of all your output; from an Ad campaign to the graphical décor on your business card.
Think of it like a Rugby team - different positions require different body builds; big and bulky combined with speedy and weedy. Each player has their own character & background, their unique role, and their own particular set of skills. However, they are united in a common goal, achieved through a specific playing style, all whilst wearing a uniform – consider the tone set.
So, what’s the process? Well it starts with your logo, which drips down to your colours, fonts and finally comes visual language - right? Wrong. The process should start with you. Only when a company understands its own values should an agency really get to work on fleshing out the meat and bones of a company. Only then, do you really understand the tone. The flavour. The sacred palate. After all, if you don’t know why you exist then how are your clients expected to believe in what you do?
To quote the enlightened wizard that is O’Shea Jackson (Ice Cube) - ‘chickity check yo self before you wreck yo self’. After all, there’s no Mum to wag the finger in the kitchen, no coach waving and wiggling from the sideline – it’s all on you. In an overly-diluted market, where there is a 1,000 companies for every service; take-backs are few and far between. You want to get this right first time.