Brand language explained: Elements of your voice

Written by Meghan Downs

Your brand is made up of lots of different language elements – brand voice, brand narrative, brand messaging, and tone of voice. Although they’re all useful and work together, it can be confusing to understand what they all mean.

Here’s a guide to explain the different brand language terms and how to apply them to your business.

Brand language, explained... Bringing together the different elements of your voice


The different terms of brand language

Brand Narrative

A brand narrative tells your company story. It will include your origin, your goals, and how you work. It’s an essential part of your overall language.


Brand Voice

Your brand voice is the way you express yourself as a brand. Your personality. It’s the small details, the quirks, the overarching way you speak to customers. It should be consistent across all communication channels – from direct mail ads to customer service.


Brand Messaging

Brand messaging is the way your brand communicates yourself to customers. It’s how you position your brand to be the perfect solution to your customers’ needs.

By answering the following questions, you can get great insight into your brand messaging –

  • What’s important to your customers?
  • What do your employees think of your brand?
  • How are you positioning your brand in the market?
  • What makes you stand out against competitors?

Brand messaging is strategic, showcasing your value and unique qualities in a way that resonates with your audience. Your messaging is essential to great marketing and customer service, for both new and old customers.

A great way to get the right brand messaging is to interview your customers – voice of customer (VOC) research is your best friend! This is where you ask them questions and use the direct language they use when describing your overall brand, their experience, and why they picked you. This will help with the first question – what’s important to your customers?


Tone of Voice

Your tone of voice is the way your communication comes across to people. It’s not what you say, but how you say it.

Think about the way a sassy Gen-Z female would talk, vs a geeky millennial male. Even if they were to both say the same thing, it would come out differently in their tone and choice of words.

There are thousands of specific words you could use to define your tone of voice, but here are a few common ones –

  • Conversational
  • Sarcastic
  • Humorous
  • Warm friend
  • Informative
  • Playful
  • Motivational
  • Disruptive
  • Game-changers
  • Diplomatic
  • Formal
  • Neutral
  • Headstrong
  • Supportive

You get the idea – no matter what, your tone of voice should be consistent. It’s good to pick two or three words to describe your brand.

(And no, being friendly and professional DOESN’T count. They are things every business should be, so it’s not enough to differentiate yourself.)


Brand identity

After all your hard work laying out your brand narrative, tone of voice, and messaging, your brand identity is how OTHERS see you. If your current brand identity isn’t quite hitting the mark with your customers, researching and understanding why will be key to improving it. Your brand identity includes your visual branding, such as logos, images, colourways, and typography.

This part isn’t technically your brand language, but it should all work together.

So, how do you bring all the elements into one cohesive voice?


Combining the elements of brand language together

Although the different phrases have their own meanings, all elements of your brand language are intertwined and should form a delicate balance. By spending some time defining what that looks like, the rest of your marketing and messaging will become silky smooth.

It’s likely to change over time, and you may tweak things after marketing tests and further customer research. Putting in the work is so worth it. Give your brand the best chance to connect to your audience, build trust, and showcase your personality.

Always pair the tone of your language with deliberate grammar and word choices that complement it. Do you LOVE an exclamation point? Or are you always asking opening questions as conversations starters? The way you format and deliver your words adds to the overall tone.

Another way to think about your tone of voice is to imagine your brand as a character. Is there a well-known TV character or celebrity that accurately reflects what you want your brand to be? Or is there a character from your personal life you can embody? This might never go anywhere public, but it could help you to decide on a tone internally.

Think about the rhythm and the length of your words, sentences, and paragraphs. Is it long and fluid or short and straight to the point? Every brand should have a distinct style that makes their readers feel something.

For example, you wouldn’t have a headstrong brand that says they will ‘maybe’ or ‘possibly’ get results – they’d use strong phrases like ‘proven’ and ‘guaranteed’. It’s more likely they will use shorter, more direct structures, too. Their tone and chosen words should be confident to reflect their personality and brand narrative.


Defining your overall brand voice

Although I’ve now explained these elements of brand language, nailing your voice is no easy task. Need help? I can work with you to define your brand voice and bring your messaging to life. Done through a series of interactive workshops, I’ll ask you everything about your company and work with you to develop a brand message alongside new, ready-to-launch website copy. Get in touch to find out more.