Tone of voice

Tone of voice is not what you say, but how you say it

Our tone of voice expresses our personality and values, and helps our users to know what we stand for. It’s important as content creators to distinguish between writing as yourself and writing as our university.

Tone of voice should be extended to all content, including our website, printed collateral, social media messages and emails, to create a clear, distinctive voice.

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what is tone of voice?

It’s a set of guidelines describing the ‘voice’ of Leeds Beckett University. Our ‘voice’ is how we express our core values in a consistent, unified way. Having a clear tone of voice means that anyone can contribute copy without it being obvious that there are multiple content creators. This helps our audiences understand what our university stands for and what it can do for them.

  1. Why is tone of voice important?

    During the development of our content strategy, stakeholder consultations unlocked a range of aspirations for the website. To meet these aspirations, it was recognised that the website needed three tonal qualities: personality, authenticity and consistency.

    Tone of voice is how we inject these qualities into our content, helping us to implement our content strategy.

  2. An authentic voice

    We also made a commitment to be:

    “Clear and unapologetic about who we are, creating content that our audiences recognise as the authentic voice and representation of Leeds Beckett University, irrespective of who they are or where they see it”.

    Our tone of voice is that authentic voice and representation of Leeds Beckett University.

Our core values and what that means for our content

These are Leeds Beckett University’s core values – you can see how they influence our copy by clicking on each one.

Our content always maintains and prioritises our student focus. However, this extends beyond just recruitment-focused content and advocates a greater emphasis on the public face of the student experience and opportunity content.

Ensures that we produce content to the highest standards, and are seen as a sector leader in our approach. We will have the confidence to adopt plain English, and invest in maintenance of our content.

Highlights the need for our content to inspire people at every touchpoint. We do this through engaging and creative storytelling, raising our users’ own aspirations through the inspiring content they read, see or hear.

Our university should always try to take risks with our content and with our website. This core value is underpinned by a culture of constant testing and audience insight. Our website should undoubtedly stand out from the crowd.

This core value advocates for advanced professionalism in how we plan, create and manage our content. Through a community of content champions, we can embed a community of content professionals that promotes best practice.

From a content creation viewpoint, this means focusing on using well-structured content. We need to ensure we’re pooling core messages into a ‘single source of truth’. This helps us to maximise the value of our content – by reusing and repurposing it – but also means we always give clear, consistent answers to users’ questions.

Identifies inclusivity and accessibility as core pillars of our approach. It calls for us to co-create content with members of underrepresented communities instead of speaking for them.

Our tone of voice in action

Here are some guidelines for implementing our tone of voice. They’re designed to ensure our audience knows and understands our core values. It also means that our audience only has to interact with one personality on our website – that of our university.

This core tone of voice was designed to let us write with personality, authenticity and consistency in a way that also reflects our university’s seven core values. The three qualities of our tone are:

  • Confident
  • Inspiring
  • Personal

Confident

Leeds Beckett University has a strong belief in itself and in others. We demonstrate our confidence by giving assurance and certainty. Our confidence instils a strong desire within our audience to achieve. To have goals and objectives that aspire to betterment of themselves and others.

We’re proud of who we are and what we do. We’re straightforward in all our communications. We never hide information, and we always use plain and simple English.

We’re always honest about what we’re doing and how we’re doing it. We’re confident enough to be clear about how things work, even when we think people won’t like what we’re saying.

‘Show’ our audience through real-life examples and stories. Boast about our achievements, large and small. Show our audience that our university is active and dynamic.

Inspiring

We fill our audience with an animating influence. We use energetic copy to communicate optimism. We let our audience know that our university is active. We talk to our audience in a clear and positive way to produce positive feelings and actions.

Help our audience feel good about our university by talking about positives rather than dwelling on negatives. This doesn’t mean sugar-coating bad news, just starting with the positives, being optimistic and talking about what we can do to help.

Use an active voice and imperative sentences when writing for the web. Talk directly to your audience and use inspiring words and phrases that mean something to them and their situation.

This is more than a style requirement – short sentences make our writing easier to read. We write strong, inspirational copy in short, focused sentences. This makes it easier for our audience to be instantly inspired.

Personal

Leeds Beckett University is helping young people build better futures for themselves. But they’re not our only audience. Our content has to be able to speak to prospective students, their parents, our alumni and businesses. To encompass this wide breadth of scope, we use a human, personal tone.

When you’re writing, think about how you’d speak to your audience if they were sat in front of you. Choose everyday vocabulary. Writing in a conversational style will help us build better relationships with people.

We don’t need to ‘show off’ to demonstrate that we’re experts at what we do. Our use of plain, simple English shows that our university is confident and open. That it’s inclusive and welcoming. It’s helpful and attentive. We talk to our audience as equals, making no assumptions about background or ability.

We give people what they need, not what we think is interesting. We get to the point quickly and succinctly. We keep things as simple as possible – only telling them what they need to know, and no more. Remember, simplicity is the key to relevance.