6 August 2015
It’s no good getting ‘all dressed up’ if you ruin it the moment you speak. For luxury brands, getting your tone of voice right cultivates an impression of exclusivity and mystique. Get it wrong and you can easily devalue your brand.
As everyone knows, the right tone of voice helps you connect to your audience and make you stand out from the crowd. But finding an authentic tone of voice for a luxury brand is more complex than simply appearing ‘posh’ or exclusive. The way you speak to your target audience needs to be finely nuanced. Ideally, your tone of voice should convey that you understand them and their lifestyle – making your audience feel they’ve found a soulmate.
Trends in tone of voice just now are veering strongly towards the informal, together with simple language. That means the complicated and Latinate style which luxury brands have traditionally cultivated can sound too formal or even clunky. General trends matter because they’ll affect the general mind-set with which your reader approaches your copy. That said, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be more formal, providing it’s authentic for your brand, and your copy is carefully crafted to engage them.
Finding your true voice
– an authentic tone that resonates with your target audience – involves detective work. It’s already there, but you have to discover it. Ask yourself the following questions…
Once you’ve come up with three or four adjectives which define your brand, hone your definitions further. Work out what you mean by each of them AND more importantly, what you don’t. So for instance with a luxury brand, ‘funny’ might mean ‘witty’ but preclude ‘coarse humour’. Or you might sound ‘young’ – meaning ‘fresh’ but not ‘immature’.
Unfortunately luxury brand tone of voice pitfalls abound, and if you simply aim to sound grand it’s all too easy to fall foul of them:
Taking the time to find your unique tone of voice pays dividends. It can invest your brand with a ‘rightness’ and customer loyalty that nobody can take from you.
Article kindly written by James Wareham who is co-founder and head copywriter at The Copysmith Ltd. He has over 18 years' experience on a vast range of multinational brands including most automobile brands, Dyson, Waitrose, Nestlé, Cadbury, and several leading hotel groups. James has created many Tone of Voice guideline documents for large companies here and in the Middle East, and in this blog he shares his insights on writing for premium brands.