Why Brands Need To Pay Attention to Tone of Voice  

The way your brand uses language (i.e. its tone of voice) has a big impact on its ability to engage people. Different types of language attract different types of people.

You need to understand your customers and the way they speak so you can talk to them in ways they enjoy. With the right type of language, you will see your engagement rates skyrocket.

In this series of articles, we look at some of the biggest brands in fashion and give our opinion about how they use language to attract their target audience.

In this edition, we look at Chanel’s tone of voice on their website and social media channels and give our analysis of their use of tone of voice.

Our Take On Chanel’s Tone of Voice

Chanel has a clearly defined tone of voice that reflects its target audience. This is a sophisticated brand looking to attract a glamorous and discerning audience.

Their target audience appears to be women aged 20 to 45, interested in luxury fashion, and from at least the upper-middle class. They seem to use their brand voice to show this demographic that Chanel is a world-class luxury fashion house.

Let’s look at an example of their copy from their website and attempt to analyse it for insights.

Image of short blog from Chanel website

Choice of Words

Chanel appears to choose their words wisely to reflect different aspects of its brand and its audience.

Complexity

They use words that require readers to have a good grasp of the language. The upper-middle class social group tends to have a high level of education. Complex language allows them to speak to their audience in a way that feels exclusive. It can feel as if you have to be “In the Club” to understand.

You can see this in their choice of words in the above image. Many of the words have simpler alternatives:

  • Juxtaposition = contrast
  • Motif = theme
  • Ateliers = studio

It’s sophisticated language for a sophisticated audience.

Readability

Readability refers to how easy it is for a person to read a particular piece of writing. It affects how people engage with content.

A brands tone of voice needs to match its target audience’s reading levels. This makes it more likely that the right people will read the content.  

I ran a readability analysis on the above advert, and it does seem as if Chanel is trying to attract a well-read demographic:

  • Fletch Reading Ease: 39.3
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 13.1

This is considered difficult to read; it’s much harder to read than typical internet blurb.  People who read at that level generally have at least one year of university education.  

Professionalism

The tone Chanel uses in their writing errs away from a conversational style. Everything they write has an air of professionalism to it. They appear not to want to be overly informal with their audience.

Although, they do appear to relax a little on social media.

Luxury

Chanel positions itself as a high-end luxury brand and they make sure they reflect this in their choice of language.

They use adjectives that reflect quality. Their designs are “intricate” and have a “richer” look. The items are “handmade by Maison Lognon”. This is because when a brand has time and money to make clothes by hand in a studio, they have the luxury of being able to pay attention to each piece individually.

They make sure you know that they use luxury products: “gold”, “thousands of sequins”, “rhinestones”, and “organza”.

Brief Recap:

It seems clear from the way Chanel uses language that they are appealing to a largely educated social group. They’re effectively saying, “This is an exclusive brand for sophisticated people”.

Their choice of language may appear as a barrier to some and an entry to others.

Where Do They Use Their Tone of Voice?

Chanel seems to follow similar guidelines across its website and social media channels, but they modify slightly for the audience.

The example used in the first section is from their website, where they can afford to write longer pieces. Let’s look at how they speak when space is confined:

Facebook:

Facebook advert for Chanel Les Eaux De Chanel

In this example, things appear more relaxed because they inject fun into the post by using words such as “Roaring Twenties”. They do use some sophisticated language, “evokes”, “floral and solar trial” but overall it’s easier to read.  

Readability is at 7.8 Grade Level, which is much easier to read. This is in part due to its shorter length, but also reflects our understanding of the way people use social media: when the writing is complex, people need to work harder to understand it.

Facebook users aren’t there to work hard. The simpler language and the short copy mean people are more likely to read it.

Instagram:

In contrast, Instagram is more image-focused than Facebook so there’s less focus on the actual text.

It is only 121 characters in this example, which is ideal for Instagram.

Because the tone of voice is kept simple, but the professionalism remains apparent by its omission of conversational language, the post comes across as both friendly and sophisticated. It’s short, sweet, and flowery (literally and figuratively).

Summary

Chanel has a distinct brand voice that seems to reflect their brand personality. They appear to use sophisticated language with an air of professionalism to appeal to educated and affluent women who are interested in an exclusive lifestyle.