Voice and Tone: Creating content for humans (Kate Kiefer Lee)
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Voice and Tone: Creating content for humans (Kate Kiefer Lee)

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A brand’s voice stays the same from day to day, but its tone has to change all the time, depending on both the situation and the reader’s feelings. This talk focuses on articulating your brand’s ...

A brand’s voice stays the same from day to day, but its tone has to change all the time, depending on both the situation and the reader’s feelings. This talk focuses on articulating your brand’s personality and writing for emotional humans.

I use MailChimp as a case study to explain how we created VoiceandTone.com, an interactive voice and tone guide, and how it improved the company’s content and processes across departments.

I also share a few of my favorite voice and tone guides, as well as some examples of empathetic (and not so empathetic) content in action.

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Voice and Tone: Creating content for humans (Kate Kiefer Lee) Voice and Tone: Creating content for humans (Kate Kiefer Lee) Presentation Transcript

  • Voice and ToneCreating content for humans@katekiefervoiceandtone.commailchimp.com
  • Find your voice Speak onto the page Watch your toneKnow when to keep a straight face Be honest
  • Ask questionsWhat does your company do?Why did you start your company?Why do people visit your website?Who are your customers?What other companies do you admire? View slide
  • Ask questionsIf your brand were a how would youhow would you If your brand were a person, person, describe them?describe him examples of content that suits your brand. Show me a few or her? What other companies do you admire?Show meyou fewpeople to feel whenof content that a want examples they visit your website? How dosuits your brand.How do you want people to feel when theyvisit your website? View slide
  • MailChimp isfun but not childish.clever but not silly.powerful but not complicated.smart but not stodgy.cool but not alienating.informal but not sloppy.helpful but not overbearing.expert but not bossy.
  • Design persona (Aarron Walter)
  • Voice guidelinescompanys missioncontent typesspecific content examplesbrand traitspersonality explanationreader/customer typesvisual guidelines
  • AMPERSANDS DATES Don’t use them. Type the word Spell out the day and abbreviate the “and.” month CAPITALIZATION DOLLARS AND CENTS Use common sense. When in doubt, Use a dollar sign. Don’t include cents don’t capitalize. on round dollars, and spell outYaaaawn. “cents.” ese words shouldn’t be capitalized: website, internet, online, email. $35 COLONS $35.50 $35 million Use a colon if you’re telling people what comes next in the first part of 35 cents the sentence. You can choose from three support ELLIPSES options: online chat, email support or MailChimp’s Knowledge Base. Use ellipses (...) to show that you’re omitting words or trailing off before the end of a thought. Don’t use an COMMAS ellipsis for emphasis or drama. Use the serial/Oxford comma.
  • "It is insight into human nature thatis key to the communicators skill.For whereas the writer is concernedwith what he puts into his writings,the communicator is concernedwith what the reader gets out of it.He therefore becomes a student ofhow people read or listen."William Bernbach
  • Find your voice Speak onto the page Watch your toneKnow when to keep a straight face Be honest
  • "A good teacher I know, JenniferAuger, has a simple but effectivetechnique for the writing classroom.When her students have blahvoiceless writing, she makes themspeak the following words to herbefore reading their text: Listen tome, I have something to tell you."Peter ElbowVernacular Eloquence: What Speech Can Bring to Writing
  • Jerrold, a Nerdbot
  • Find your voice Speak onto the page Watch your toneKnow when to keep a straight face Be honest
  • Style guide: content types e app e application is MailChimp’s heart. Its language helps people along as they create, send and track email campaigns. People using the app already know and love MailChimp, so we can have a little fun with the language–though our priority is helping them get their work done quickly. Why we do it: Duh. Microcopy Microcopy is that small but oh-so-important instructional copy that you usually see in forms and feedback messages. It might remind a user that her password has to contain a number or explain that email communication will only be used regarding a specific order. We also call it “help text,” and you see it both in the app and on the public site. It’s short and to-the-point. Why we do it: To help users complete tasks. MailChimp newsletter MailChimp’s email newsletter is a company update written by our CEO, Ben. It’s full of photos, stories, experiments, links and announcements for customers who want to know more about MailChimp. It’s casual and entertaining. Why we do it: To give customers more MailChimp news and provide an occasional behind-the-scenes look at how the company works. We are an email service, after all.
  • Mascot’s jokes: an extra layer of humor
  • Compliance alert: bad news
  • Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions
  • "If advertising had a little morerespect for the public, the publicwould have a lot more respect foradvertising."James Randolph Adams
  • To determine your toneof voice, consider:1. Content type2. e readers emotional state
  • Ask yourselfWhat situation is the reader in thats bringingher to this content?What situation will this content put her in?How does the reader feel right now?How will this content make her feel?What can I do to maintain the readers stateof mind or put her in a better one?
  • Sensitive subjects Sensitive content typeshealth and medicine help contentreligion contact pagepolitics FAQmoney formsprivate information privacy policytranslation issues failure messages and alerts
  • Friendly reminder from the Fake AP Stylebook
  • "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.""No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader."Robert FrostRobert Frost
  • Tufts University’s voice and and tone wikiTufts University’s voice tone guidelines wikis.uit.tufts.edu
  • Tufts University’s voice and tone guidelines wikis.uit.tufts.edu
  • Indiana University Alumni oppositions IU Alumni Association’s word Association alumni.indiana.edu
  • be.macmillan.org.uk
  • Macmillan Cancer Support’s empathetic writing guide be.macmillan.org.uk
  • WRONG tone of voice
  • Obama campaign’s unsubscribe screen
  • Romney campaign’s unsubscribe screen
  • Photojojo’s unsubscribe form
  • Photojojo’s unsubscribe screen
  • Tea Muse’s unsubscribe screen
  • "e consumer isn’t a moron. She is your wife."David Ogilvy
  • Find your voice Speak onto the page Watch your toneKnow when to keep a straight face Be honest
  • mint.com 404Current 404
  • 404 reject
  • Woot’s product description woot.com
  • Woot’s contact page woot.com
  • Find your voice Speak onto the page Watch your toneKnow when to keep a straight face Be honest
  • Warby Parker’s roots warbyparker.com
  • Warby Parker’s library warbyparker.com
  • Warby Parker’s writing guide
  • Warby Parker’s story page warbyparker.com
  • "I’ve learned that people will forgetwhat you said, people will forgetwhat you did, but people will neverforget how you made them feel."Maya Angelou
  • Thanks.@katekiefervoiceandtone.commailchimp.com