3 min read

Teach all Your Writers the Brand Voice

Teach all Your Writers the Brand Voice

It's no surprise that maintaining consistency and a unified tone of voice becomes hard at scale. But you want a unique voice. But you have a bunch f writers.

Keep reading for key takeaways from a team of professional writers... who work with writing teams like yours all of the time.


In the realm of business, your voice, also known as your tone of voice, is how you communicate, express your identity, convey your values, and interact with people through language.

When your voice is distinct, akin to an individual's unique personality, people identify you not only by what you say but how you say it.

Elements of voice encompass:

  • Choice of words
  • Sentence structure (syntax)
  • Length of sentences
  • Punctuation
  • Use of metaphors

Essentially, every language-related choice you make, whether conscious or not, contributes to your unique voice.

For instance, if your brand's voice is friendly, upbeat, and informal, you may occasionally use exclamation points (like I did just now!).

Conversely, a more formal voice would stick to periods.

When everyone creating content for your brand adheres to the same voice, your audience can easily recognize your brand's distinctiveness.

As Ahava Leibtag expressed to Ann Handley in her Content Marketing World presentation, "I can tell you wrote a piece of content within just two sentences." Undoubtedly.

Or, perhaps, Cool. Or even, Damn cool! (Would you use the word "damn" in your customer-facing content? Would you employ an exclamation point? If you're unsure, it's time to define—or better communicate—your brand's voice.)


Defining your brand's voice serves several crucial purposes:

  • Boosts content creators' confidence.
  • Provides customers with consistent experiences.
  • Enhances your company's credibility.

Think of a beloved brand; it likely has a distinctive voice that resonates with you.

When you encounter content from that brand, you instantly connect with it as if it were a friend speaking.

You have a sense of the entity behind the words.

How can customers form such connections with your brand if you're unsure of your own identity?

Failing to define your voice can lead to:

  • Confusion (both internally and externally)
  • Erosion of brand identity
  • Delays in getting products or services to market
  • Costly and inaccurate translations

Quantifying the benefits of defining a corporate voice can be done by surveying companies that have undertaken this task.

For instance, Acrolinx surveyed over 200 content professionals in companies that manage terminology.

The top reasons cited for managing terminology included "ensuring correct usage" and "enforcing style and tone of voice guidelines."

The key benefits included "a more consistent brand voice" and "reduced confusion in technical documentation due to inconsistencies."


Every content creator within your organization, including those responsible for pre-sale and post-sale content, should embrace the same brand voice.

In fact, the distinction between pre-sale and post-sale is often artificial.

Some companies find that documentation generates over 50% of their qualified leads, making documentation a form of sales literature.

In essence, all customer-facing content should align with your corporate voice guidelines.

Why would you speak differently after making a sale?


Defining your brand's voice can be approached in various ways. Many companies opt for a set of descriptive adjectives like "reliable," "thorough," "outrageous," and "funky" (though you'd rarely find all four in a single company's voice description).

Avoid using empty adjectives like "cutting-edge," which have become so overused as to lose their meaning.

These are often referred to as "cotton-candy adjectives" because they lack substance.

Your voice adjectives are primarily for internal reference, guiding writers in creating customer-facing content.


One effective method to make your list of adjectives more practical is to structure them as "this-not-that" pairs.

This structure provides writers with clear boundaries, helping them understand what to do and what to avoid.

As an example from the Content Marketing Institute's voice guidelines:

  • Authoritative but not pompous
  • Approachable but not wandering
  • Informative but not academic
  • Quick-witted and relatable but not corny
  • Entertaining but not inappropriate

Likewise, from MailChimp's voice guidelines:

  • Fun but not silly
  • Confident but not cocky
  • Smart but not stodgy
  • Informal but not sloppy
  • Helpful but not overbearing
  • Expert but not bossy


Some companies find it beneficial to use a deck of adjective cards, such as Margot Bloomstein's BrandSort cards, to facilitate discussions among stakeholders when defining their voice. A common approach is to sort these cards into three categories:

  • Who we are
  • Who we're not
  • Who we aspire to be

The steps typically involve:

  • Appointing a leader
  • Preparing a set of adjective cards
  • Gathering stakeholders
  • Sorting the cards and engaging in lively debates
  • Documenting the decisions made

The value of this exercise lies not only in arriving at a set of final words but also in engaging in rich discussions and debates, understanding why certain words resonate with colleagues more than others. This process contributes significantly to a successful card sorting exercise.

Define it, Then Share It

Once you've defined your brand voice, it's essential to share these guidelines with your content creators. To assist writers in maintaining a unified voice while still retaining their individuality, provide a combination of guidelines and real-world examples.

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