How tone of voice and brand language workshops can simplify content production

2011 Port Strategic Planning Forum

When writing copy for businesses, it can be difficult to get everyone to agree on what is ‘right’. As a copywriter, your words may be reviewed by several stakeholders, all with slightly different ideas of how their company communicates.

Copywriters can either muddle on, hoping to assuage multiple stakeholders and get their copy signed off after a bit of a slog, or you can unify your reviewers by getting them to agree a canonical tone of voice for their brand.

Bring together representatives from every department and get them talking about brand language. Get them to share their view of the company’s voice. And then write it all down, and get them to sign it off.

A short workshop can be enough to make everyone feel heard, and can be enough to produce a tone of voice document that everyone can agree to. Once the tone of voice is in black and white, and no longer an ephemeral mish-mash of beliefs, you can get writing. Not only will you encounter less resistance from your reviewers, but you will also have a framework to fall back on, should anyone challenge or question your copy.

Indeed, you’ll no longer be arguing about the tone of voice, though you may find yourself discussing whether your copy is in keeping with the documented brand voice – which is a far easier conversation to have!

When to use brand language or tone of voice workshops

Not every business needs to run a workshop. For small clients and startups it’s often quicker and easier (and cheaper for the client) to decide a tone of voice by simply talking about it.

However, brand language or tone of voice workshops are great for…

Companies that have grown

Many of my clients need help because they’ve grown from a small company doing one thing to a larger company doing several things, and during that growth they lose the ability to clearly explain what they do. Different ideas about the business compete for prominence, and often it’s easier for an external agency to bring some clarity.

Companies with several strong departments

Copy can easily become the battleground for corporate turf wars. Warring factions fight for control of areas of strategic importance (like the home page). Engender a spirit of cooperation and peace by bringing the warmongers together, and getting them to play nice.

If you’re interested to know how a brand language workshop could help your organisation speak with a clear, consistent voice, get in touch!


  1. Brilliant idea!

    I would add, however, that if a brand is already well defined strategically and conceptually, then those formalized definitions and any Brand Bible(s) should be the strongest guiding force in formalizing the brand’s tone of voice. This could still be done in the form of a workshop (which I think is a great idea), but the discussion would have to be guided by the established branding.

    If the brand has not managed to define itself beyond a corporate identity and maybe a few rough, conceptual notions, then the workshop can be no-holds barred – and could even serve later as the foundation for a more extensive definition of the brand.

    Comment by B. Ligerent — September 21, 2011 @ 10:41 am

  2. Sounds ideal.

    Based on the philosophy, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

    You don’t happen to have a PDF of a ‘typical’ tone of voice workshop?

    Or a cost for such a thing?

    Pse advise.


    Comment by steve — December 18, 2013 @ 11:29 am

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