Tone of Voice project samples

A tone of voice section is now an essential part of most brand guidelines. And so it should be. After all, the 'verbal identity' of a brand can make a huge impact on the way it's perceived. So why don't more brands have a distinctive tone of voice? We explored some of the reasons in this post and this thought piece.

And we reveal how brands do create a way of writing that's unique in this post and this article for The Marketing Society.

We work with brand consultancies and direct with brand clients to create tone of voice guidelines from scratch or to polish their first efforts. We also plan and deliver training programmes for staff who have to write but aren't writers.

For details on the process involved in developing tone of voice guidelines click here.

For an overview of typical ToV guide contents click here.

Scroll down for case studies;

Investec Asset Management

Investec asset management

The challenge:

"Can a tone of voice capture a distinctive company culture?"

The brief: Investec aren't your usual pinstriped asset management firm. They’re dynamic, progressive and straight-talking, with a culture built on the ‘freedom to create’. We needed to create a tone of voice that captured this, before bringing it to life on their new website.

The solution: Creating a tone of voice that’s genuinely distinctive and evokes the brand’s values is the holy grail of the modern copywriter. Check out this blog we wrote about doing just that.

Back to the case study, what struck us about Investec was the boldness of their senior management’s views. That inspired us to create a tone that was sharp and surprising. Like Investec’s senior management, it was disarmingly candid. Where the content was a little dry - this is asset management after all - our headlines were bold and evocative.

The writing:

"It takes 25 years to create a lasting investment capability. So we build organically."
Domenico (Mimi) Ferrini - Co-chief Investment Officer

The result: Now live, the website scooped a Silver Midas Award for the world’s best financial advertising.

The credits: Copywriter agency: Barnaby Benson London. Copywriter: Barnaby Benson and Joseph Richardson. Brand Agency: The Partners. Client: Investec Asset Management.

Credit Suisse

page from bookThe challenge: Credit Suisse wanted to radically redesign their brand identity. They needed brand guidelines which evoked and harnessed their five brand attributes: inventive, energetic, partners, eminent and results.

The brief: working with the design team at Brand Union, write all sections of the new brand guidelines.

The solution: first, we went to Switzerland to get a more complete picture of the company. Once back in London we generated analogies with successful individuals and other leading brands to illustrate the five key attributes. One example was Steinway & Sons – leaders in music instrument manufacture for over 150 years. Storytelling techniques helped bring these examples to life.

The writing:

"To be eminent in any field is to set the tone. As the ‘King of the instruments’, the piano’s tonal range extends from the lowest note of the double bassoon to the top note of the piccolo. For over 150 years Steinway has been dedicated to making instruments to satisfy the finest pianists. They are endorsed by artists from Ashkenazy to Zimmerman as the best in the world."

The result: the brand guidelines are still in use.

The credits: Copywriter agency: Barnaby Benson London. Brand Agency: Brand Union. Client: Credit Suisse.

P&O Cruises - creating a tone of voice / verbal identity

The challenge:

"Can you develop a tone of voice for that's 'authoritative' yet 'welcoming and approachable'?"

The brief: create the tone of voice and write the guidelines working from scratch using the brand model as inspiration.

The solution: some general direction on how to write plus plenty of easy-to-follow language tips.

The writing:

"Conveying attainable luxury with elegant phrasing

Don't be afraid to describe things fully. For example:

'On a P&O Cruises holiday we not only show you the world, we give you the opportunity to touch it, the chance to taste it and, perhaps most importantly, the time to savour it.'"

The results: Delighted with the guide, P&O Cruises invited us to develop and deliver a training programme for the company's in-house team of writers. You can download a pdf of the tone of voice guide here.

The credits: Copywriting agency: Barnaby Benson London. Communications agency: Brand Environment. Client: P&O Cruises.

Xansa - tone of voice guidelines as training

Xansa 5 section sampleThe challenge:

'How do you help non-writers in a company write compelling sales copy?'

The brief: develop the tone of voice guide drafted by the agency

The solution: set out the basics on how to write well before providing a highly specific messaging matrix to help staff decide the best message for different sales situations.

The writing:

Be clear

A confident organisation doesn't need over-complicated language.

How to write clearly

Use simple language: choose natural, everyday words. If you wouldn't say it - don't write it!

Avoid long sentences: you should be able to say it out loud without running out of breath.

Tip: If the reader needs to re-read you need to re-write.

The results: agency and client embraced the proposals

Credits: Copywriting agency: Barnaby Benson London. Communications agency: Radley Yeldar. Client: Xansa.

Rolls Royce Engineering

The challenge:Rolls Royce Engineering tone of voice guide_upperRolls Royce Engineering tone of voice guide_lower

"Can a fresh pair of eyes make a tone of voice document more practical?"

The brief: Rolls Royce Engineering were in the process of overhauling their brand guidelines and the new document had been through numerous iterations. However, the tone of voice section was still a little abstract and vague. For a company famed for its precision and excellence, this wouldn't do. We needed to get editing.

The solution: We took a scythe to the verbose writing instructions and replaced them with simple, practical advice. Out went meaningless adjectives. In came realistic writing dos and don’ts.

The writing:

Be clear and concise

This means…

The result: The final obstacle for concluding the brand guidelines project was removed, much to the delight of the agency – and the client.

The credits: Copywriter agency: Barnaby Benson London. Copywriter: Barnaby Benson and Joseph Richardson. Brand Agency: Conran Design Group. Client: Rolls Royce Engineering.

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