The Empire Writes Back ~ We, Me, Them & It ~ John Simmons on Tone of Voice BrandingOriginally published at MarketingProfs.com©Richard PelletierPhoto of Tone of Voice Innovator, John SimmonsJohn Simmons - Author of "We, Me, Them, & It"This irresistible book with the charming title floats a simple answer to a difficult question. Your organization is struggling to emerge from an overcrowded marketplace and forge a separate and unique identity – to create an enduring and powerful brand. How do you do it? Simple, says the UK’s John Simmons in his latestbook, “We, Me, Them & It – How to Write Powerfully for Business” — write differently.Beyond the basics that most firms lean on to distinguish themselves – graphics,colors, logo’s – a visual identity overhaul – language, and more specifically, tone of voice, is a powerful way to forge a distinctive identity, writes Simmons.Branding, after all, is about differentiation. And describing a brand begins with words.Yet time after time, company after company, the same tired and worn-to-the-bonewords and phrases keep showing up. So your audience, (a word he prefers over stakeholders) faced with a company that has failed to engage, stimulate, humor, orexcite them, will decide for themselves who you are. Not bloody likely they’ll decide in your favor. Major opportunity lost.“The basis of the tone of voice process,” Simmons writes, “is a determination touse words that really mean something and take a risk.”We The company; the collective group that “you” as a writer work for.So how does Simmons – a well-established brand himself – get his message across?A deeply personal, knowing and assuring tone of voice. Strong openings. Dramatic closings. Risk.Chapter one is a jazzy tour of the Simmons working process. We open with the acerbic Dennis Potter; “The trouble with words is you don’t know whose mouth they’ve been in.” At that, Simmons is off and running like a passionate band leader, improvising here, reading the charts there, moving his audience through short solos on literature, advertising, politics, culture and creativity.Here’s David Ogilvy –“People who think well, write well.” There are classic openings from Jane Austen, Joseph Heller and from Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ Love in the Time of Cholera. There is much, much more.All of which is designed to push the boundaries of language. To lead, liberate,excite, educate and inspire readers (and, of course writers) – to toss aside theshroud of dreadful conformity that blankets most business writing.Words are living, breathing entities.They have a life and mind of their own. Inspiration is all around us and is there for the taking. And yet anyone who admires Dennis Potter knows words can causetrouble. “Words are your children,” he cautions. “They can inflict small unthinking acts of cruelty on your neighbors.” Key takeaways: Listen. Read out loud. Speak the words inside your head if you must, but careful listening will kill offa lot of bad writing.