Exploring the tone-of-voice with Daniëlle van Hengst

Daniëlle van Hengst is a copywriter whose career is rooted in the marketing world. After finishing her doctorate in the Dutch language at the Universiteit van Schermafbeelding 2020-03-10 om 14.20.07Amsterdam, van Hengst started her career as a copywriter at the Dutch advertising agency FHV. Through her experience as a copywriter and later on, as a creative director copy, Daniëlle learned the importance and the essence of the concept ‘tone-of-voice’. In her book Nogal Lange Koekjes of Huisgemaakte luxe roomboterasorti, it becomes evident that a good brand should be able to distinguish itself from other brands just by the language that they use (van Hengst and Menken 2017). In her trainer masterclass tone-of-voice, Daniëlle takes the Dutch newspaper Telegraaf as an example. Telegraaf is a good example of a brand that has mastered its tone-of-voice. Without knowing what newspaper they are reading, participants of the workshop immediately recognize the headlines like that of Telegraaf. Even though it remains debatable if the Telegraaf is as objective as possible, we can say for sure that their tone-of-voice is on point.

Another conclusion we can derive from this example is that news outlets can be considered as brands as well. Therefore, they obtain a particular tone-of-voice, which is precisely what we aim to research. We think that Daniëlle can provide us with some interesting insights on the tone-of-voice in general and maybe even particular to news outlets that can help us with our methodology to examine tone-of-voice.

We would like to ask Daniëlle the following questions:

  1. Newspapers generally aim to report as objective as possible, so to what extent can the tone-of-voice differ in newspapers?
  2. In your book Nogal lange koekjes of Huisgemaakte luxe roomboterasorti, you explain that it is important for a good brand to distinguish themselves from other brands via language. Why is that and can you name an example of this?
  3. You said Telegraaf is a good example of a brand that has mastered its tone-of-voice. For us, Telegraaf is very well known for its sensational titles. More emotional than informative. What exactly is it that makes a title emotional?
  4. In addition to the previous question, does the title of an article set the tone-of-voice for the whole article?
  5. Is the tone-of-voice only important for a brand, or newspaper, for distinguishing themselves, or can it also have other purposes? If yes, can you name them?
  6. What categories would seem appropriate for you, if we want to categorize the tone-of- voice of newspaper titles?

van Hengst, Daniëlle and Willemijn Menken. 2017. Nogal lange koekjes of huisgemaakt roomboterassorti: zo schrijf je voor een merk. Zwaag: Pumbo.

Posted in Data Journalism 2020