The voice (or tone) of a brand, in marketing terminology, is very close to the element defined as the the Addresser (also known as Emitter, or Source), the origin of communication, by the Theory of Communication.
Typically in everyday conversation we have no specific need to focus on the relationship between our words and our personal individuality: a special attention to this element is however required if we wish to activate the communication mode defined by Jakobson as the Emotive Function of communication.
The Emotive Function
The first prerogative of the emotive function is to be necessarily expressed in first person, since the focus is on the sender of the message: in comparison to a neutral communication, e.g. “It’s raining”, the emotive function uses phrases such as “All this rain makes me sad” or “I hope I won’t get drenched”.
When we are captivated by a character in a novel or a movie, we are admiring the mastery of the writer in dominating the emotive function of communication through dialogue (be it direct or indirect). In particular, filmography can have a more direct effect in comparison to literature, by using the body language of actors. This specific form of communication is the best way of expressing the emotive function, since many gestures are usually subconscious, spontaneous and universal: a shiver or a yawn are signals which are equally comprehensible in any part of the world.
To be able to master body language (or nonverbal communication) is an extremely powerful instrument of communication, thanks to its directness: primordial instincts, of both seduction and power, are often channeled in a completely independent manner from verbal communication.
The Voice of a Brand
The decision regarding the voice and tone to use in an institutional communication or marketing campaign is complex. Since the purpose of such communications is to inform or persuade, in order to be efficient the Addresser must consider its values and consequently adapt the voice to the receiver’s needs.
The choice of code, channel and even the message must occur after considerations on the voice, which has to remain consistent in time in order to define brand identity; any inconsistency from a brand in regards to its voice, which is supposed to represent its values, negatively impacts brand reputation.