Determining tone of voice for your independent business

Let’s face it, when someone starts a business their putting a lot of things into motion, how well those “things” have been defined isn’t always clear. The Tone of voice of the companies communications is one of those things. It’s usually something that hasn’t been defined but can be felt by customers, employees and clients and influences sales, service and many other aspects of the business a great deal. For these reasons, we all want to put our best foot forward in crafting the tone to be as authentic to ownerships personality, company culture or crafted brand voice as possible.

Of course, as a independent business resources for this kind of thing are few. So, of course, CodeSwitch is here to help you make this happen. We’ve found with brand-related work like this the key to getting it done is to get started, but that’s not always easy to do without knowing where to start. These tools from Map and Fire will help you do just that.

These exercises are simple and will place your feet firmly on the path of defining the tone of voice for your company or brand.

Exercise 1: Tone Dimensions
The first tone exercise involves choosing a position on four sets of opposite words.

For each of the four-word pairings below, place an “X” in the box that best corresponds to the cone you desire for your business.

X tool game






If you find yourself or your team getting stuck on giving a score of any of these pairings this is a sign that the relationship with your customer or client base isn’t very strong. Here are two tips to get through it. Think of your best clients or customers and then think about or ask what communications are like with those people.

Next, visit some of your favorite publications and try to rate their tone. Believe me, they’ve defined their voice over a long period and that’s why people return to their site. Once you have a good idea of how to make this happen for other companies you’ll be more comfortable doing it for your company or the one you work for.

Exercise 2: Tone Keywords

Step 1: Highlight 4–6 words that describe your desired tone well.

Step 2: Strikethrough up to 6 words that do not describe your desired tone.

word cross game












Now that you’ve finished this exercise your probably wondering “ok now what”? The key to brand exercises like this one is knowing how to apply them. In this case, when you are hiring writers and designers (yes graphic designers need words to design for you) give them these words. This will give them information to apply to your brand. There is a key difference in hiring a writer or designer to deliver their style with your brand message attached and have them deliver creative that represents and delivers your brand message. The latter is always better.