Brand tone; what do your customers really hear?

9 September

Brand language is the language your brand uses.
It is spoken and printed word, both on and off web.
The words you choose matter but have you thought about your brand tone?

I help businesses to be more human on the web. Most businesses need some help with this. That’s because speaking seems to come more naturally to us than writing. We don’t usually talk about ‘speakers block’… unless we’ve been invited to give a stand up presentation! Seriously though, have you thought about how your business comes across on the web? What do your customers really hear?

What is your brand tone?

When we read content online, we literally hear a voice in our head! We interpret the message and imagine that we are having a conversation with the person. So, it’s important for you to decide what tone and language support your business brand. How can you communicate the story of what you do in a way that is meaningful and effective?

Most of us hugely underestimate how people interpret what we say! Message misalignment is very common on the web. Communicating face-to-face involves the use of non-verbal tools like: intonation, gestures, facial expressions, and body language. We interpret most of this on a subconscious level. That is why we rely so heavily on our choice of language and use of emoji (or text emotion symbols) to help us to convey emotions. Emotion helps us to make sense of the world.

This is the first of a four part article on social media Brand Voice. The four key elements are tone, language, personality and purpose. Let’s start with your business tone of voice. Once you know the tone you want to use, it is much easier to choose effective words.

Today I’m going to share examples of businesses who have different brand tones. It’s much easier to understand when you can see live examples.

Personal tone

A business that uses a personal tone is keen to understand their customer needs. When someone arrives on the website or blog, they immediately feel like they are understood. The business outlines and understands their ‘problems’ and presents them with clear actionable solutions. A surprising example I found is Keyhouse, who develop, build and support specialised software for law firms.

Keyhouse take a refreshing approach by using simple english to speak to their target audience. Law firms are notorious for their use of stuffy and incomprehensible phrases. (My research threw up an excellent post from the blog ‘A lawyer’s guide to writing’, titled ‘Avoid stuffy language and use real words instead’.) Well done Marie Buckley!


This copy is highlights the personal tone that Keyhouse use to communicate their value –

“Before we tell you what a Keyhouse solution can do for your practice, we like to learn about your business. Tell us what you do best, how you do it and where you are feeling pain. Then we can take you through how our specialised software can transform your firm, making it more organised, efficient and profitable.”

Understanding and supportive tone

A business whose brand values are about caring and supporting people are very conscious of community. The language is inclusive and caring. A great example of this type of business is the Alzheimer Society of Ireland. is a dimentia specific service provider in Ireland. Their brand tone supports their brand vision which is quoted below;

“Our vision is an Ireland where no one goes through dementia alone and where policies and services respond appropriately to the person with dementia and their carers, at the times they need support.”

Honest and direct tone

Honest and direct is not always about being a people pleaser! The Middle Finger Project is a niche business with a very specific audience. Ashley Ambirge provides “frank advice on surviving as a business owner, for people with a f*cking sense of humour”. Like the most successful companies, it actively repels certain customers. Ashley Ambirge doesn’t have an edit button – she is certainly not afraid to be herself. I’m not necessarily a fan of her business but I do admire her bold, direct approach.

Here Ashley tells us why she chose the name ‘The Middle Finger Project’ –
“Because we’re in the business of shunning cliché, overused language, business practices and lifestyle choices, in favour of originality, happiness and doing what feels right for you”

The Middle Finger Project

Tone is so crucial in the online world – what tone suits your business brand? I hope these examples help you to be more conscious when you are creating both verbal and written communication. My next post will inspire you to choose your words wisely too!

Think about your favourite brands and see if you can describe their tone – I bet that  you have already subconsciously done it! Feel free to share your revelations below or over on Facebook.

Referenced links to explore:
The Alzheimer Society of Ireland
The Middle Finger Project
A lawyer’s guide to writing’

Related post – Why blogging is not about finding your voice


What three things would you like people to believe about your business?

31 August

My business card asks a thought provoking question; what are the three things you would like people to believe about your business?’ It’s a simple but crucial idea – if you don’t know exactly what you do, how can you expect your customers to know either? Knowing the answer to this question will give you clarity in so many situations, from meeting people at networking events or creating website copy to chatting on social platforms. Ultimately it boils down to one thing – what do you want to be known for?

Three Thought Bubbles

We start with this question when I train business owners how to communicate what they do on the web. What seems like an obvious question can be a tricky one for many people to answer.

I often begin by sharing my own ‘three things’. Over the last seventeen years, I have owned two businesses. Each offered very different services but I’ve always been very clear on communicating how I can help people. Real examples are useful in training, so today I’m going to share the three things I’d like you to know and believe about Three Thought Bubbles, as well as for my previous business Rangoli.

Three Thought Bubbles human business branding

At Three Thought Bubbles – I offer training and mentoring in the area of online business communication with an emphasis on clarity and human connection. The three things I would like people to believe about my business are:

1.I believe that human business works and that it is essential to emotionally connect with your customers on the web. People do business with people they trust.
2. I understand your world. Having run two businesses, I know what it’s like to juggle all aspects of a business, including sales and marketing.
3. I want to inspire you and give you the confidence to tell your business story. I will provide you with new tools, skills and support.

In my previous business Rangoli, I designed bespoke bridal jewellery and headpieces. My skills were much wider than that of a jewellery designer. I listened, reassured and interpreted clients ideas, offered advice on styling and involved clients in the design process. Here are the three things that I wanted my clients to know and believe:

Rangoli Jewellery website

1. I will listen to you from the first email or telephone enquiry, right through to a face to face meeting,
2. I will offer honest and expert advice
3. I will involve you in the design process to create a piece of jewellery that you will cherish wearing for years to come.

I hope these two examples are helpful for you! Ask yourself this question and see how clearly you can tell yourself what you do and who you help. Take your time and keep editing your ideas and words until they reflect your core business values.

In a future post, I’ll show you how you can create content and start conversations that support this business ethos. That’s what social media for business is all about. Do you need some help with that? I offer a range of training and would love to have a chat with you about humanising your business on and off the web!

Please share your own ‘three thought bubbles’ in the comments below or over on Facebook. Go on, be brave 🙂