Voice and tone | Seeds

Writing

Voice and tone

Voice

What we mean by brand voice:

The authentic personality of our brand

  1. What does our brand persona, The Luminary, sound like?

Why do we need this:

A consistent, distinct brand voice sets us apart from competitors, builds trust and familiarity with our customers and eventually leads to long-term brand value.

The Sprout brand voice

Of course, just as in your own day-to-day communication, there are nuances we should be careful to observe:

Bold

Sprout is confident enough in our authority to not mince words. We’re always clear and direct, and we’re not afraid to speak our minds.

There’s a fine line between bold and brazen. We never want to come off harsh or demeaning, or like an attack. To stay inspirational, focus on the positive of what we want others to say/do/think.

Too timid/safe:

“Maybe social is more than a marketing channel”

Too harsh:

“Stop thinking social is just a marketing channel”

Just right:

“Social is more than a marketing channel”

  • Be direct and confident
    • Avoid hedge words like “maybe,” “possibly,” “potentially,” “can,” etc.
      • Ex: Sprout can help you xyz Sprout helps you xyz
    • Use strong words (ie. excellent and challenging) instead of relying on weak modifiers (ie. very good and really hard)
  • Be honest
  • Be concise
    • Omit needless words. Don’t say in ten words what you can say in two.
    • Avoid:
      • Long and/or complex words and sentences
      • Multiple words with the same meaning
      • Unnecessary modifiers
      • Clunky common expressions

Inspiring

We balance our boldness out with positivity and inspiration. We’re not just here to tell it like it is, but more importantly how it could be. Our words should stir hope, excitement, possibility, creativity and innovation.

Keeping our words positive, actionable and active will go a long way in communicating this tone.

Too passive:

“Social is full of untapped potential”

Too negative:

“You’re not using social to its fullest potential”

Just right:

“Unlock the full potential of social to transform your business”

Tips for inspiring writing

  • Incorporate motivational words
    • Accomplish, action, ambition, believe, capable, challenge, commitment, courage, dare, determination, drive, envision, excellence, focus, goals, hope, imagination, joy, mission, opportunity, passion, possibilities, potential, succeed/success, value
  • Use active voice and lead with active verbs as often as possible
  • Put a positive spin on any perceived negative
  • Focus on the desired state

Authentic

Bold and inspiring on their own could lead to sounding too preachy or lofty. Prioritizing authenticity will remind us to stay grounded.

To stand out from the “power words” and jargon pervasive in our industry, we’ll lean heavy into talking like humans. (Just don’t try too hard to sound cool and relatable by using slang).

Too desperate:

“It’s time to make social your bae”

Too markety:

“It’s time to take your use of social to the next level”

Just right:

“Reimagine the role of social in your business”

Tips for authentic writing

  • Talk with, not to or about
  • Make it personal, don’t generalize
    • Use: names, faces and specifics when possiblee
  • Avoid technical jargon and commonly-used marketing phrases
  • Use smaller words
  • Keep it conversational
  • Avoid slang

Tone

What we mean by brand tone

While our brand voice will always remain consistent, our tone may vary slightly depending on the situation, audience or content type.

By situation:

When Sprout talks to media, we may take a more authoritative tone. More confident, definitive statements, fewer questions, fewer apologies. We want to come off as an expert or leader in our field. No unnecessarily big words here, but calm, clear and concise.

When Sprout posts on social, we can unbutton a few buttons. Here we can be a bit more playful, use emojis, use (some) exclamation points, and be a bit more empathetic and compassionate. Remain confident, but feel free to keep it casual.

When Sprout handles customer issues, we dial up the empathy and compassion. We want to know how we can help them succeed. We talk much less about ourselves and our products and more about their unique challenges. Avoid being overly apologetic, stay cool, calm and confident the whole time. Focus on the fix, not on the fail.

By audience

Novice Intermediate Expert
Leader:
Responsible for social in addition to other marketing channels
Our voice will remain smart and sophisticated, but our tone here should be a bit more empathetic and helpful. Avoid using industry jargon or niche terms.

You’re a teacher here. Be patient, calm, clear and friendly.

Here we can take a more authoritative tone. A bit more buttoned up. But still helpful and friendly.

You’re a mentor here. Be encouraging and empowering.

Dial up the confidence, authority and sophistication. Don’t be afraid to use niche terms and phrases.

You’re a peer here. Assert your opinion, engage confidently and build your audience up.

Manager:
Focused on social strategy but removed from the day-to-day management
Our voice will remain smart and sophisticated, but our tone here should be a bit more empathetic and helpful. Avoid using industry jargon or niche terms.

You’re a teacher here. Be patient, calm, clear and friendly.

Here we can take a more authoritative tone. A bit more buttoned up. But still helpful and friendly.

You’re a mentor here. Be encouraging and empowering.

Here we can take a more authoritative tone. A bit more buttoned up. But still approachable and friendly.

You’re a mentor here. Be encouraging and empowering.

Practitioner:
Handles social content publishing, engagement and measurement
You’re talking to an entry-level novice here, so it’s important to remain very clear and concise, as well as avoid industry-specific or niche terms. It’s also okay to be more casual here.

You’re a teacher here. Be patient, calm, clear and friendly.

Here we can take a more authoritative tone. A bit more buttoned up. But still helpful and friendly.

You’re a mentor here. Be encouraging and empowering.

Here we can take a more authoritative, sophisticated tone. Don’t be afraid to use niche terms and phrases.

You’re a mentor here. Be encouraging and empowering.

By content type

Content type User type Goal Tone
Guide Prospect, customer

Novice, intermediate

To educate Keep it simple, clear and concise. Avoid niche terms and stay empathetic.
Insights article Prospect, customer, industry

Novice, intermediate

To educate and empower. Keep it simple, clear and concise. Keep it customer- focused. Avoid over-simplifying.
Case study Prospect, customer

Intermediate, manager

Customer storytelling, success stories for sales use. Button up a bit, but stay personable. Dial up “smart” and “sophisticated.”
Email Prospect, customer

All

To communicate. Be personable and friendly – write 1:1.
Web copy Prospect, customer, industry

All

To differentiate. Keep it simple, clear and concise. Button up a bit, but stay personable. Brand first, product second. Solutions over features.
Sales presentation Prospect, customer, industry

Intermediate, Expert

To persuade. Be straightforward and precise. Avoid niche terms and stay empathetic.
Sell sheets Prospect, customer, industry

Novice, intermediate

To educate and persuade. Be straightforward and concise. Remain professional and instructional.
Product announcements Prospect, customer

All

To inform and educate. Keep it clear and concise, but avoid over-simplifying. Button up a bit, but maintain enthusiasm. Commun
icate authority and expertise.

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