Brand Romance: Most Marketers Think They Have A Distinct Tone Of Voice

Brands are changing their language in response to events -- and they think they’re good at it, according to Brand Voice Comes Of Age, a study from Phrasee.  

Of the executives polled, 77% believe their company has a distinct tone of voice in ads and marketing content. But only 36% strongly assert that they do, with 41% who simply agree. Another 19% are not sure, and 3% disagree. 

Eighty-eight percent say their language has improved in the current environment, compared to 74% in 2020. 

What do we mean by a tone of voice? 

“When a customer goes to a website, it’s language that ultimately steers them through their purchase journey,” writes Parry Malm, CEO of Phrasee. “In email marketing – still the channel with the highest ROI - it’s words that define success.” 

For instance, 58% agree that the process for creating content and getting approvals has changed in the last 12 months, and 29% strongly so. Few disagree.  



Moreover, 63% say their firm consistently revises language to “ensure sensitivity to world events.” Indeed, 68% say recent events have created more pressure for marketers, and that 64% are rethinking brand language.  

In addition, 68% have altered their communication policies and procedures, and 64% have changed their approval processes over the last 12 months. 

What prevents marketers from achieving that “clean, consistent, effective messaging” that would make their brand stand out? For 55%, it’s a lack of resources.  

But process may also get in the way for some. For example, “the vast majority of marketers don’t have a solid grasp on testing and optimization fundamentals,” writes Jen Capstraw, founder of Women of Email, in the study.  

Capstraw adds that some brands go through “rudimentary tests without accomplishing much. Bad testing advice is widespread. And many testing tools aren’t designed to compensate for marketers’ lack of optimization expertise.” 

Then there’s technology. The ability to “react to customer behaviors in real-time - for example with cart abandonment emails - and test quickly will allow brands to run more successful campaigns that drive revenue and foster more long-term loyalty,” states Marissa Contreras, senior director, digital experience & CRM for the Shaklee Corporation 

But most brands “aren’t realizing the rich data they’re sitting on,” Contreras says. ”If they did, they’d activate that data to optimize their targeted audience segments and engage with clients in ultra-relevant ways.” 

In the end, the most important component is the writing talent. Let’s say you’re doing a white paper. Even without a byline, it has to sound like it came from a human being, preferably one you know: Think of Dick Cavett doing anonymous ad voiceovers, or the cartoonist Robert Crumb using the anonymous editorial voice in ad parodies

Now there’s a copywriter for you. 

In this follow-up to a 2020 study, Phrasee surveyed 300 senior U.S. marketers from across the U.S. in a survey commissioned by Dynata. Of that sample, 43% are directors, 38% are vice presidents and 19% are managers.

Their varied (and overlapping) duties include:

  • Digital marketing—80%
  • Social media marketing — 72%
  • Marketing management — 62%
  • Content management — 61%
  • Product marketing — 55%
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