“For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice.” - T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets
T.S. Eliot was onto something. Years before ‘catchy copy’ was a mainstay in our everyday lexicon – Eliot recognised that language and voice are flexible, living, contemporary constructions. The way we speak, about ourselves – and about our brands – has enormous impact.
Tone of voice is often overlooked – even by the loudest and boldest brands. The brands who’re happy to use design in an innovative and provocative way, seem to freeze up when confronted with words beyond their usual ‘excellent, great, efficient, easy, passionate…” (please don’t make me go on). We do require many words to just give context and meaning to what we’re talking about – but we also need flavour, colour – zest!
A tone of voice is about more than saying, “Hey! Customers! Yo, What Up? We’re Totes Down With Your Lingo!” – None of my friends speak that way. In fact no one I know speaks that way, because everyone I know, is an individual, with a unique personality.
Brands with a strong tone of voice are perceived as trustworthy. They’re genuine. They’re talking to me as they are. When a brand uses language that we don’t use every day, it can be a fine line between showing expertise and just alienating a reader or listener. You don’t have to dumb yourself down to create an engaging tone of voice. Just think about the gorgeous guy in the Old Spice Ads – he’s bold, a little saucy, but very engaging.
When you address your consumer directly, honestly, speaking as your brand – they’re going to listen. We are bombarded with wasted words and empty voices. If you want to really connect with your customers and clients – talk to them.