Once upon a time there was a founder who created a product that would change the way the world snacks. sleeps. suntans.

Five years later there were 20 more brands changing the way the world snacks. sleeps. suntans.

The end.

One night, three brands, each of them friendly, authentic and human walk into a bar.
1 “Hello! I’d like some tap water please.”
2 “Me too. Maybe with some ice and a slice of lemon? Thanks!”
One night, three brands, each of them friendly, authentic and human walk into a bar.
Nobody remembered them. That’s it. That’s the punchline.
3 “Er, yeah. I’ll have the same, if that’s okay. Thank you.”
Nobody remembered them. That’s it. That’s the punchline.

Brands can live and die on a story.

Stories shape the way we build trust with our customers, stand out from competitors and determine the legacy that we will leave behind. They also tell us what to post on Instagram and what your Christmas card might say.

A distinctive brand tone of voice supports the stories we tell.

​​Communicating the very values on which a company is built. The copy for some brands is so identifiable that you can imagine them as human beings. Walking into a bar. Ordering a drink.

At Sonder & Tell we help brands find their voice and tell their story.

So they can communicate their message in a tone that’s true. What we believe about story and tone is always evolving, as language does. Below are some of our thoughts.

Some things we believe about Brand Story

The customer should always be the hero.

“We have been around for ten years”, “we use this special ingredient”, “we reached 1,000 homes this year”. Listening to a brand that makes themselves the hero of their story is a little bit like sitting next to a self-involved guest at a dinner party. (It’s boring). A great story makes the customer the hero, and the brand a guide who takes them on a journey to solve their problem. Airbnb isn’t on a journey to find you the best apartment, they’re helping you discover the world. Ultimately, all brands should be able to answer: what’s the role I play in my customer’s life?

A creative story is the best way to approach positioning.

You might have heard of a textbook positioning – for x, y is the z, etc. Which works fine. But it doesn’t get customers excited. And it’s not something teams can rally behind. That’s why at Sonder & Tell we create storybook positionings. A narrative that brings your strategy to life for your team. And makes you and your customers fall in love with your brand again, and again.

A brand story is what helps you stand out

Ever looked at a category and thought every brand sounds the same? That’s because they haven’t found their hook and committed to hammering it home. A good brand story should focus all of your communications around one narrative that you can own. Look at Hinge, Tinder and Bumble. Hinge is designed to be deleted (the relationship one) while Tinder owns the single story. Bumble is where women make the first move.

What is a Storybook Positioning?

It’s a creative strategy and brand positioning with an ownable narrative

It’s a north star for you and your team

It’s the starting point for all future content creation

Some things we believe about Tone of Voice

Tone of voice is the written representation of your brand personality

Tone of voice is your personality and your values translated into words. You should look at it with the same level of discernment as you would your brand logos, colours and fonts. Sadly that rarely happens. There’s a tendency to go through a branding process and then slap a couple of slides on a ‘friendly’ tone of voice at the end. Or not to define it at all but then speak in memes on Instagram, because that’s what everyone does right?

The words you choose impact how customers see you

The behavioural economist Daniel Kahneman says: “People don’t choose between things, they choose between descriptions of things”. The words you choose have a significant impact on how people perceive your brand. If you exist in a crowded marketplace, it’s especially important to build out a tone of voice with flourishes of personality that chime with the audience you want.

Consistency is king

The challenge is to apply your personality in every communication you put out: an Instagram caption is easy; a piece of product copy less so. Tone of voice is hardest to do when presenting a serious subject matter or bad news, but that’s also where it has the greatest impact. It’s important to train everyone in your company in your tone. Isn’t everyone writing in some way?

What is a
Tone of Voice?

It’s a strategic positioning for language to help you cut through the noise

It’s a creative concept for bringing your brand to life through words

It’s a programme of practical application to instill confidence in your team

From The Journal

View All
InterviewNatasha Collie

Natasha Collie

Senior Brand Marketing Manager at Penguin Random House UK

At the start of the year, Ladybird Books approached Sonder & Tell with a dream brief. In 2021, a year that’s been particularly challenging for...

InterviewTatton Spiller

Tatton Spiller

Founder Of Simple Politics

Talking about serious issues doesn’t mean defaulting into a serious tone of voice, or using complicated language. If anything, accessibility, clarity and a touch of...

Interviewloïs mills

Loïs Mills

Brand & Community Manager at Homethings

Creating a tone of voice from scratch can be challenging. But a blank slate to work from also mean there’s room for something a bit...

Sonder Stories

Join our community of readers and writers on Instagram