A blue background that has the words "Tone and Brand".

This is the second post in our seven-part series on the elements of brand. The first post is “Introduction: What is a Brand?”.


Tone is an incredibly powerful tool for conveying your brand’s story. It has the power to add emotion to your marketing messages when done correctly. In this section of our six-part series on the elements of brand, we’ll explore what tone is, how tone and voice differ, and how we can use tone in marketing. We’ll also explore a few examples of tone from notorious brands.

What is Tone?

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines tone as the “style or manner of expression in speaking or writing”. When we apply this definition to marketing, we can think of tone as the “how” of what we say rather than the “what”. For example, let’s take POP- a fictitious organizing and planning business. POP needs to create a social media post for Instagram; the message POP wants to convey is that organizing takes time and won’t happen overnight. However, those words can come off with a harsh tone. But, if we said “Organizing is a practice, not a project” the tone is more helpful than harsh. Remember, color and font can play a role in tone as well. Take the image to the right, for example. The color and font convey a helpful and fun tone!

What is the Difference Between Tone and Voice?

Tone and voice, though often used interchangeably, are distinct elements of brand. They each have their purpose in branding and usually have a similar feeling. Voice is more about what you are saying to your audience, and tone is about how you are saying it. To better understand, imagine a time when you said something to a friend or family member, and the message came out entirely wrong. Was it because of the words you said (voice) or because of the tone you used? You can determine which of these happened by thinking about how the situation may change if you had used a different tone. If the outcome would have changed, it was tone. If the outcome would not have changed, it was voice.

This is a picture of a cell phone with the Instagram app open.  It has an image used to convey brand tone and a message.

How Can We Use Tone in Marketing?

Brand’s can use tone to convey a variety of emotions! Some tones include joyful, serious, professional, casual, optimistic, or humorous. Some examples in action include brands like Old Spice, Disney, Apple, Wendy’s, and Nintendo. Can you figure out which tone belongs to which brand? (Hint: Multiple tones may apply to multiple brands. Each brand may also have more than one tone.)

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