Here’s how to explain the kind of copywriting tone, voice, and style of writing you want for your brand.
Whether you’ve been tasked with your first copywriting project at work or – better yet – get to commission a pro copywriter to write for you, you must be able to explain what you want. And what you want extends beyond the type of project at hand—it involves the “little” details that contribute to brand image.
Here are the copywriting basics you need to know.
You know the old saying, “it’s not what you say but how you say it”?
That’s what we mean when we refer to tone.
And, as you can imagine, tone changes all the time—your audience, environment, mood and situation influence how you would speak at any given moment.
- You might use a cutesy, high-pitched tone talking to your fur baby— and a stern one to tell puppy off for chewing another pair of shoes to bits and pieces.
- The tone you use to share bad news isn’t the same as the tone you’d use for happy occasions.
- And the way you would talk to your boss or clients isn’t the same as the way you talk to your best friend or mother.
Copywriting tone is essentially the same as the tone of your voice except in written form. Among others, word choice and syntax influence how your tone comes across.
To put that into perspective, consider the following:
If you’re announcing the launch of a brand new product, you might use an energetic and upbeat tone. On the other hand, if you’re announcing the discontinuation of a service, or even layoffs, you certainly wouldn’t do so with excitement. You might take a regretful or somber tone instead.
Note: Some call it “tones of voice”, “tone of voice in writing” or “copywriting tone of voice”. Others call it “brand tone” or “brand tone of voice”. At the end of the day, everyone’s referring to the same concept.
Examples of Tone:
Tip: If you’re writing a piece – say an advertorial – for a specific publication, you’ll want to match your tone with the publication’s tone.
In the same way that you can speak to different people in different situations and still be you, i.e. your authentic self, when we refer to copywriting or brand voice, what we mean is the personality you wish to convey in your writing.
Put simply, it’s the image you wish to portray in written form. And just as your real-life voice doesn’t change (much), you should also aim for a consistent voice in your copywriting. It helps you stand out and makes it easy for people recognize your brand quickly.
Tip: Your brand’s voice is incredibly important, which is why it’s important to define your brand’s personality before you start writing. For example: let’s say your brand is thoughtful, optimistic, and approachable. In that case, your brand voice and tone should reflect those traits.
There are four writing styles, each serving its own purpose.
Expository writing style
This style is used when you want to explain a concept or convey information. It is objective and does not include personal opinions. Instead, it focuses on factual information about a topic and may include statistics or other forms of evidence to back points up.
- How-To Articles
- Business Writing / Technical Reports
Descriptive writing style
This style is used when you want to make it easy to visualize something; to paint a picture – stimulate the imagination – using words.
- Travel Guides
- (Certain) Product Descriptions
Persuasive writing style
As its name suggests, this style is used when you want to convince your audience about something. Unlike the expository style, opinions are included and used to justify a certain position or stance on a topic.
- Sales Materials
Narrative writing style
The narrative style is all about building a world or communicating a story. You’ve got characters, conflict, settings, a resolution and so on.
- Short Stories – you see this style of writing quite often in «About Us» or «Our Story» pages on a website
Tip: When it comes to copywriting, you must also think about whether you want to use active vs passive voice.
Bonus Tip: The best way to ensure consistency across team members and over time is to create a copy style guide with brand voice guidelines.