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Why Does Tone of Voice Matter in Retail Interior Design


Blackboard sign with handwritten text with prices on
You've guessed it. This is a farm shop sign.

The ‘tone of voice’ is a key component of brand identity. It’s likely that as a retailer you have defined what yours is and have carefully and consistently applied it to all your marketing material. We’re always told that one of the most important factors about branding is to be consistent and that your brand’s tone of voice should feel the same across all areas of the branding. Yet ‘tone of voice’ often gets forgotten when thinking about the brand’s interior spaces.


In this blog post, I will explain a little more about why brand identity and particularly your brand’s tone of voice, is so important in your brand’s interior design.


What is ‘Tone of Voice’?

Your tone of voice is the way you communicate with your customers. It’s the way you show your brand’s personality and style and portray your brand’s core values, as well as appealing to your target customer. The words and language style you chose in your website copy or social media posts is usually what we think of when we talk about tone of voice, but it effects all areas of your brand. This includes your interior spaces.


Tone of voice in retail interior design refers to the overall atmosphere that you create for your customer. It plays a crucial role in influencing your customer’s perceptions, emotions, and behaviour, ultimately impacting on their overall shopping experience. A retail interior with a well-defined tone of voice will help the customer establish a strong emotional connection with the brand.


As a retail interior designer, understanding the retail brand’s tone of voice is a key part of the brief before I start designing a new store concept. Often the retailer hasn’t identified its brand’s tone of voice, and this usually shows in the existing space. For example, I recently worked on a new store concept for an independent furniture store. Their unique selling position was that they are a family run business, they handcraft many of the products and have done by 3 generations of the family. The existing interior was filled with a mix of standard display equipment and IKEA shelving, lots of plastic POS holders and the main colours used throughout were bargain red and pure brilliant white. To communicate core values like craftmanship, quality and local heritage, the interior needed to echo these values. A warmer colour scheme with the use of honest classic materials like timber, worn metals and other natural finishes made for a much more appropriate interior.



Interior design moodboard showing a heritage style
Heritage Moodboard

Why is the tone of voice important?


1. Grow the customer’s trust and confidence in the retail brand and its products.

A cohesive and consistent tone of voice throughout a retail space helps reinforce the brand’s identity. When customers walk into a shop it needs to complement the brand’s overall image and align with the brand’s values, personality and relate to the target customer. This will reinforce the customer’s trust and confidence in the retail brand and its products. Lush do this (and many other things) really well. You have no doubt that you’re in a Lush store, with it’s recogniseable white on black typography, rustic timber and colourful product, not to mention the aroma. The exact same aesthetic is found on the website, social media and the packaging that sits in your bathroom.


Photo of the interior of a Lush store
Lush Store Interior

2. Customer Engagement.

A well-crafted tone of voice can captivate and engage customers, enhancing their emotional connection with the brand and the products. It helps to set the mood and create a unique shopping experience that can leave a lasting impression. When I worked with the value retailer Wilko, their tone of voice was down-to-earth, fuss-free and relatable. Wilko stores are bright, fresh and easy to navigate. For the Crawley store opening, we applied funny relatable statements to the walls above the product with the aim to make the customer’s smile.


Images of Wilko store interior
Wilko - Vinyl lettering to walls

3. Differentiation.

It’s competitive out there. Creating a distinctive tone of voice can help a shop stand out from the crowd. Creating a memorable and immersive shopping experience that sets the shop apart from competitors will make it unique. This helps with developing customer loyalty and returning customers.


4. Customer Comfort.

Getting customers in the right frame of mind to shop is key. The tone of voice can impact the comfort levels of the customer while shopping, which increases their willingness to spend time in the shop and buy. If customers can feel ‘at home’ or confident that they’re in the ‘right place’, then this will help them relax and start shopping.


To sum all that up, the tone of voice in retail interiors is vital for creating a unique, immersive, and memorable shopping experience. It will increase customers trust and loyalty to the retail brand which will drive sales and grow the business.


Ways to use Tone of Voice in Retail Interior Design


1. Colour Palette

Colours should be chosen to reflect the tone of voice. Think about the psychology of colours and how they align with the brand’s personality. For example, an Artisan food brand that is proud of it’s heritage and history should use timeless, classic colours to reflect this. A youthful clothing brand that is punky and disruptive, may suit interior colours that are clashing and unexpected.


2. Materials and Finishes

Materials and finishes should also reflect the brand tone of voice. Materials choices are linked to perceived values, such as honesty, tradition, trend led. For example, customer’s will be expecting to see rustic natural materials in a farm shop and this familiarity will put them at ease and ready to shop. For some brands, choosing the unexpected could also align with the Brand’s tone of voice.


3. Furniture and Fixtures

Furniture and fixtures play a big role in communicating the retail brand’s tone of voice. Thrifted and upcycled pieces are ideal for a sustainability focused retailer (whereas plastic risers and price ticket holders would be totally inappropriate). Clean lines and sleek furniture styles could create a feeling of luxe elegance. Vintage repurposed pieces can evoke a sense of nostalgia or humour.


4. Signage and POS

Fonts and images used in the interior space should match up with what is used in all areas of the brand. Messaging needs to connect with the customer and make them feel like they’re ‘in the right place’ and that they belong.


Moodboard interior design for Butchers
Artisan Butcher - Materials Moodboard


Remember, all these elements should work together harmoniously to create a consistent tone of voice throughout the retail space. The goal is to evoke the desired emotions, align with the brand’s personality, and provide an immersive memorable experience for your customers.



Does your interior align with your retail brands Tone of Voice? Are you sending the right message to your customers? If you could do with some help aligning your shop’s interior with your branding then get in touch for a chat about how we can work together.

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