Project Description

Brand voice

June 2021

Creative Corner

Jess Oliphant
Jess OliphantHead of B2B Copy

Setting the tone in B2B

Over the past few years, something’s changed in B2B creative: it seems that brands are (slowly) getting braver. Hoorah.

Yep, finally, B2B brands are accepting that they don’t need to be the brand equivalent of the posh know-it-all in a pinstripe suit to be taken seriously. They can be colourful, personable and creative – and businesses will still buy from them. In fact, they might buy more.

As a B2B creative, this behavioural brand shift is music to my ears. But as a Copywriter, I’m feeling a little less jubilant. Let me explain.

Words are your building blocks

You see, while B2B businesses are now taking their creative output more seriously, many of them still aren’t making a big enough deal of their brand voice. Mindboggling really, given it’s a central component of all their communications. Believe it or not, brand voice is still just seen as an afterthought, a box to tick. For some, it’s no more than advertising razzle dazzle. Just look across the world of commercial real estate and you’ll see what I mean.

Where’s all the personality and the humanity? Where are the phrases that make you smile or the statements that get you nodding your head in agreement? They’re few and far between. Lost among buzzwords, acronyms, uninspiring headlines and calls to action that fail to grab the attention of a time-starved, digitally-overloaded audience. For these businesses, brand voice is a massive missed opportunity.

You see, brand voice could – and absolutely should – be one of your biggest brand assets. It’s just as important as a logo (yes, really). So, why are so many B2B businesses still not getting it right – even with the help of specialists?

Don’t just talk the talk

More B2B businesses are now engaging agencies to help them with their brand voice. Great. But here’s what happens. The agency goes through the motions – looks at the brand’s personality, identifies some key traits, then prescribes some convincing tone of voice characteristics. Then, they pop them in a PDF along with some guidelines around how to bring it all to life. The business circulates said PDF with strict instructions to follow. Happy days. Job done.

Well, sadly not.

You see, I read lots of these guidelines. And in some cases, I find it hard to tell which is which. Dare I say it tone of voice guidelines are becoming ubiquitous: the text equivalent of those generic stock library brand videos. *Shudder*.

The voice of change

Brand voice can’t just be a set of guidelines. It should be living and breathing in every facet of your communications, all of the time. It should be pored over with as much consideration and love as your logo. It shouldn’t feel abstract or generic; it should be tailored to you and only you. And your whole business should embrace it.

Your brand voice should be your conversation starter. Your attention grabber. Your emotional fishing reel. It should inform the secret buzzwords you plant in your comms to build brand association (how do you think Obama became synonymous with ‘change’)… It should inspire you to create a killer call to action that makes potential clients click through not ‘close’… It should lead you to that voiceover with the perfect, indescribable twang that your copywriter sifted through 122 audio reels to find… And it should play in your mind when you sign off on an email, so your new client knows they’re not just a number to you.

In summary: the words you choose and the way you choose to say them matters.


And if there’s one thing you can expect from the legendary ‘Ogilvy’ name, it’s that we’ll help you find that unique voice – and make it sing.

Read more of Jess’s thoughts on the importance of voice in your brand’s tone of voice

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