I'm not sure I like your tone!

Setting a 'tone of voice' will help help your copy sound individual, but what on earth does it mean?


Mr Michael Cobb

2021-04-01 4 min read

For many of us the last time you heard ‘tone of voice’ in a sentence was just before a good lesson in discipline from one of your parents. It is however an important part of your marketing strategy and an essential part of what makes you different from everyone else in the market.

So what is the tone of voice in marketing speak?

A tone of voice is the way your company presents itself in its adverts, marketing materials and web-content. It is how you want to represent your company.  It could be funny or formal, happy, business-like, sarcastic and even stern. Choose one and you’re all set. There that was easy, wasn’t it?

I’m going to guess though that has got you thinking, “what tone are we trying to set?” Or the even deeper, “who are we as a company?”

Creating you own tone of voice is not an easy task. And it shouldn’t be, after all, It is the image you will present to your clients for months or years to come. To make things even more complicated, when it comes to your marketing and web copy it can even change depending on the product you’re selling.

While deciding and even finding your tone may be a difficult exercise it is probably the most worthwhile time you will have while setting up or trying to expand your business, as it will help define your purpose and client base.

The obvious temptation is to copy your competitors, especially the market leaders in your space, they’re successful and you want to be, plus to you its obvious customers will see you’re offering as different, straight away. The problem is many potential clients may not be sure why you are different, they may only have a vague idea of who you are. How does sounding like your competition help them?

Let’s think of it another way, what makes UK internet providers Virgin Media, BT Broadband, Sky and Plusnet different? It’s not really what they sell, broadband speeds and services are all roughly the same. They are all selling themselves on who they are by setting a tone of voice. Sky are the dynamic one, Virgin the youthful one, BT the reliable one and Plusnet, the local friendly one.

These differences are their different tones of voice, which helps you see them as separate offerings and worth considering for your specific need. Even if everything they provide is pretty much the same thing.

The most prominent place that tone of voice will be seen is likely in the copy you put in your marketing and on your web pages. So what does a different tone look like on a web-site rather than in an ad campaign?

The standard piece of copy about customer service may read something like, “your business can rely on 24-hour customer service through internet, phone or text connections where you can talk to one of our service agents to help you with your problem”

Now that sounds professional, it ticks the right boxes for the client and shows what you do. But it lacks a personal touch. it is all a bit too, mechanical. While it sets a professional tone, it lacks any individuality.

“We care about you and what makes your business grow, so you can get hold of us anytime, day or night and we’ll go out of our way to help.” Strikes a more personal tone doesn’t it? You’re in it together, you’ve sold the company as caring, not a machine. That though might not be the tone you want, maybe you’re a little more of an all-action sort of company?

Then maybe, “24/7 we are there when you need us,” is a better approach? The shorter punchier words give off that active tone, but I’m going to say, might not suit a florist  

All three are selling the same service, but in a different way. These examples are all pretty generic stuff though and the way you sell your services can be even more unique to who you are and how you do it.

And this is where the Copywriter comes in. Any good copywriter will take your overall approach to business and who you are and create copy that clients see as your unique voice, setting the tone for all your time with them in the future.

 If you have decided what tone of voice you want, the copywriter should be delivering copy that sounds like you and says what you want. I like to start my work with clients by talking to them about who they are, what they want the copy to do and who they are aiming their product or service at. Part of this will be about the tone of voice you’ve decided on and how it will apply to the words that people will read.

So if you are an accountant trying to be a bit less numbers and a lot more people, maybe you want to add that sense of humour your friends know you have into your copy? A good copywriter will do that for you.

You might not want to stick in a few jokes into your web copy when you’re a funeral home though. Or maybe you do, it is your choice and you’ll certainly be different. The copywriter will write something that does that, without offending the target audience.

Copywriting is not just about writing; it is about writing in a style that the client agrees will sell their services and products. Without a two-way process that matches your tone of voice with the target audience your copy is just going to be generic.

And no one wants to be generic. I hope. Get in touch, let’s chat about what you want to say in your own tone of voice.



Mike Cobb Copywriter

Cobb Communications Ltd.

Vat registered: 372 6181 91

South Woodford- London - United Kingdom - E18