UK companies that have defined their tone of voice use it in most or all parts of their business, and value it as much or more than their visual identity, according to new research by Illuma on behalf of The Writer, the world’s largest language consultancy. But the study found the majority of organisations haven’t even considered developing a tone of voice.

The haves and the have-nots

Business with a tone of voice think it has a big impact:

  • 90% use it in most or all parts of their business, not just marketing and brand
  • 60% value it as much or more than their visual identity
  • 80% believe it will be as important or become more important in the next few years.

But  The Writer found close to two thirds of leading businesses didn’t have a tone of voice and that its benefits were almost entirely off their radar: 71% of people in organisations without a tone of voice have never considered developing one, while over half (58%) considered it ‘much less important’ than their brand’s visual identity.

Neil Taylor, creative partner at The Writer, says: ‘Our research, and our experience, show that senior people usually really get behind a decent tone of voice, and that it pays for itself many times over. We’ve seen the likes of BT get a 10:1 ROI on tone of voice, and businesses improve response rates to crucial comms by 800%. But most UK businesses don’t know what they’re missing.’

What happens next

The research suggests that the benefits of tone of voice mean it will keep making its way up the corporate priority list. Of businesses with a tone of voice:

  • Two thirds said their tone of voice programme had gone well
  • 90% said they would do it again
  • 55% thought they got value from the project, which increased to 78% if they used a specialist tone of voice agency.

The methodology

Illuma Research spoke to 197 people working for UK businesses on behalf of The Writer. All of them were involved with the visual and/or verbal identity of their brand. Half (99) had a tone of voice already, the other half (98) didn’t.

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