Tone is subtle. Tone is the cumulative effect of word choice. Tone in brand language is a reflection of the attitude of the company. That makes it very important. Tone is one of the primary ways you can convey who you are as a group of people. What is your culture like? Are you frank, funny, sarcastic? Are you smart, conservative, corporate? Tone helps you stake your claim. It sends messages to potential clients or employees. Do I fit with these people?
Sword makes a drink mix that helps people who sweat work longer. They are popular with a wide range of consumers from endurance athletes to firemen. This is an example of language we created for them:
The sentences are short. The language is straightforward, clear. There is the repetition of 66 that emphasizes the monotony of the exercise. This appeals to the sort of person who is comfortable being uncomfortable. The tone of the piece reiterates who would be interested in Sword. It stakes a claim.
Crank & Boom
Crank & Boom makes ice cream. More specifically, they are dedicated to making the most interesting ice cream with the best ingredients. We wrote the flavor descriptions for their packaging. This is for Bourbon Honey:
The description takes what is normally a boring waste of space and makes it interesting. It tells a story, which is what the ice cream does. The language is serious, but isn’t taking itself seriously. It is smart. It is fun. It reflects the brand.
This company seems to be out of business. That doesn’t mean they aren’t a good example. They take a unique approach. They use the tonality of their language as a design element on their packaging.
They packaged and sold over-the-counter remedies for common complaints such as headaches, a blister, or sleeplessness. The packaging is clean, bordering on sterile. The aesthetic nearly generic. But their clever use of language with the Help refrain adds personality. The tone of the language is approachable, casual, straightforward. The tone of the language is the design element that takes the packaging from feeling mass produced to personable.
The takeaway is mind your tone. It is important. It tells people who you are and if they should be interested in what you are doing. Be yourself.
This is part three in our series Word is Bond, an examination of language as design. Read more here.
Check out our work for Big Shake’s Hot Chicken.