In this series of articles, I explore how brands use their tone of voice and language to appeal to their target audience.

Part 1 focused on established fashion brand, ‘Chanel’. There, I showed how they adopt an exclusive style of language designed to appeal to people seeking a luxury lifestyle.

In this edition, we look at how indie brand, Herbivore Botanical, use their tone of voice to appeal to a completely different type of audience.

By contrasting a high-end luxury brand (Chanel) with an indie brand (Herbivore Botanicals), it makes it easier to understand how brands use different language to appeal to different people.

‘Herbivore Botanicals’ Tone of Voice

Because they want to bridge the gap between consumers and businesses, Indie brands favour a personable tone of voice. Therefore, this gives the language they use a grassroots feel. They do this with the aim of being inclusive, rather than exclusive.

But, this doesn’t mean that their products aren’t special, just that conscientiousness plays a role too. So, where Chanel uses language to make appeals to the lifestyle YOU want to lead, Herbivore Botanicals use language to show they care about the wider issues too, e.g., the environment.

Therefore, as with many indie brands, the language used by Herbivore Botanical highlights the relationship between lifestyle and wider issues.

You can see this clearly in the following product description:

An image of a product description from Herbivore Botanical's website to showcase tone of voice.

Breaking it down

First, you’ll see that they include a “lifestyle” tab at the top of the page. This shows that their brand is more than just a sales platform: they’re helping customers create a way of life.

Secondly, note the use of lowercase lettering for their menu tabs. This reflects an informal use of language that feels friendly.

Then there’s the content itself. By using terms such as “used for centuries” and naming countries (Peru, Ecuador), they draw on the idea of a connected humanity – through the ages and across the world.

Finally, they show that they care about the planet (sustainably wild-harvested).

This is typical of indie brands and how they use tone of voice and language. They position themselves in such a way that the relationship between customer and business is blurred. As a result, they use language that makes the business feel more like a person with a distinct personality.

The target audience is people who feel a deep connection with others and who see the world as a global village. This broadly fits with the traits of Millennials, who are connected, curious, collaborative, authentic, and concerned with diversity and inclusion.

Choice of Words

Herbivore Botanical’s choice of words reflects a light-hearted and inclusive tone of voice.   

Complexity

In part 1 of this series, I showed how Chanel used language to appeal to educated and professional people. Their word choice was complex and not particularly relatable: ‘juxtaposition’, ‘motif’ and ‘atelier’.

In the Facebook post below, you can see that Herbivore Botanicals is much more relaxed. The language is casual “combo”, and they even break the rules completely by inventing a new word, “skintuition”.

A Facebook post by Herbivore Botanicals to showcase tone of voice.

Readability

Readability is a measure of how easy or difficult a piece of writing is to read. The easier people find it to read the content, the better they will engage with the brand

Brands must make sure that their content is easy enough for their target audience to read, but also that it doesn’t put them off by being too simple.

I ran readability tests on the product description and the Facebook post (see above images). Here are the results:

Product Description:
  • Fletch Reading Ease: 45.6
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade: Level: 10.1

People with the reading skills of a final-year secondary school pupil easily understand Herbivore Botanicals’ website content.  Conversely, you need the reading skills of a 1st-year undergraduate to understand Chanel’s content. This gives Herbivore Botanicals a wider reach in terms of its target audience.

Facebook Post
  • Fletch Reading Ease: 53.7
  • Flesch-Kincaid Grade: Level: 8.9

On their social media channels, the content is even easier to read. It’s easily understood by people with a reading age equivalent to the 3rd year of secondary school.

Professionalism

Herbivore Botanicals is much more conversational in style. They err away from stuffy, professional language. We already saw this in the above example, where they used words such as “skintuition” and “combo”, and in their use of lowercase lettering for the menu tabs.

At the same time, this brand is not amateur. There are no spelling mistakes and the content is on point, from the use of images to the carefully crafted copy, they are paying attention to detail.

Brief Recap:

It’s clear from their choice of language that Herbivore Botanicals want to express a laid-back but conscientious brand personality.

They want to appeal to people who are interested in skincare, but who also view themselves as fun and as connected to the wider world.

Where Do They Use Their Tone of Voice?

Herbivore Botanicals takes a slightly more professional approach on their website than on their social media channels.

Instagram:

Here’s an example of their content from their Instagram channel. It shows how relaxed they are in their choice of words:

A post taken from Herbivore Botanical's Instagram page to showcase tone of voice.

They use emoji, make fun cultural references (“National Kissing Day”), are a little tongue in cheek (“pucker up”), and engage the reader to have fun (“Try saying that five times fast”).

It is all much more light-hearted when compared to the high-end luxury brands.

Summary

Just as Chanel has a distinct brand voice that reflects their brand personality, so too does Herbivore Botanicals. However, they are expressing very different personalities. Where the former is sophisticated and exclusive, the latter is relaxed and inclusive.

In conclusion, Herbivore Botanicals are your friend, have a global conscience, and are welcoming.