Voice & Tone

Majestic & Intelligent

Description: An elevated sense of being; refinement while pushing boundaries.

Do’s: Speak highly of oneself without being arrogant. Be assured and clever. Convey a sense of pride and authority on the subject at hand. Share, don’t sell. Don’t just talk about work. Always interpret what’s being said, and refine to the most simple expression. Speak to the end-goal of something and not what is directly present.

Dont’s: Be cheesy. Overly fluff content or ideas. State the obvious. Regurgitate information.

Irreverent & Eccentric

Description: Unabashed and honest, when appropriate. Vibrant and atypical, without being too obtuse. Not too serious, but not too playful.

Do’s: Voice opinions. Show a human side. Showcase differences and unique qualities - in work and/or team. Be tongue-in-cheek.

Dont’s: Cross lines. Be inappropriate. Be too casual/playful. Try too hard. Tear others down.

Relevant without being trendy.

Intelligent but not overbearing.

Fun but not goofy.

Knowledgeable but not cocky.

Sarcastic without being dismissive.

Witty but not biting.

Agreeable but not passive.

Opinionated but not pushy.

Good: “Hi! We can’t contain our excitement to start this project.”

Bad: “We look forward to working with you on the project.”

Good: “Coca-Cola, at it again with their new, curvaceous bottle. What. A. Delight!”

Bad: “Coca-Cola’s new bottle design ushers in a new era of design for the company.”

Good: “Approach A, which we think you’ll love establishes clarity, is somewhat evocative, and grabs attention. It’s a nicely wrapped up solution which meets all your needs.”

Bad: “Here we have used a design to grab the attention of your customers using striking photography and well composed typography.”

Good: “We provide value to brands in need. Let us help craft your story.”

Bad: “We are a design firm that provides all types of services including: 3D, photo retouching, branding, and much more!”

What our voice is not

The brand should not be portrayed as: nerdy, needy, somber, overly-driven, “pumped”, “hyped-up”, standoffish, introverted, bro-ish, overly-posh, complacent, or self-righteous.

Vocabulary to avoid

Killing it, Super, Neat, Awesome, Bro, Dude, Killer, Crazy, artsy, arted, “Internet speak”, Internet acronyms (LOL, OMG, TL;DR, etc.), Startup Lingo (Conversions, Funnel, Disrupting, Unicorn, etc.).

Promotional

When we talk about ourselves or our work, it is specifically to promote our offerings. We use an acute type of language to engage a particular audience. This is the same realm as the client tone. This is probably the most foreign and watered down. We are trying to hit a broader audience. When we talk about our offerings it should never come across as a salesman type of pitch. Language should be about what we actually do and why it’s valuable. Stating things like, “We offer 3D design.” does not get at the heart of why we do it and how it can benefit our potential clientele.

Presenting value from our company means understanding the client’s needs. Sometimes we can use this language in combination with our social voice to capitalize on specific opportunities. For example, maybe a new brewery is opening and they need branding for their line of beers. In this moment, we want to approach the brewery in such a way that shows professionalism and approachability. Engaging with that client over various communication channels by using language that sounds personable like, “Got a new beer coming out, when can we try it!? By the way, we’re huge fans of label design if you need help.” This presents two opportunities, meeting the leadership and selling our abilities. The language is obviously watered down, but still shows a personable side. The point of this is getting a foot in the door, we aren’t trying to establish a sale here, that can be handled once a relationship is formed.

Social

We should always engage our peers and audience in a way that feels authentic, natural, and approachable. Speaking in this flavor of our brand means being more open, fun, and surprising. Content that comes from our mouth should excite others. If we make a post about an interesting article, what we write shouldn’t be the title of the article. We should always be making observations about the things we are presenting, whether it's a succinct statement or thoughtful diatribe. Our audience is listening to us because they believe we have a unique perspective, making the minimum amount of effort does not cut it. In order to be seen as a leader in our industry, we have to stand out from the crowd. If we leave our tone as the after-thought we lose out on the opportunity of brand recognition, which means we become another voice in the social-ecosphere of the millions.

Client

Presenting work to a client requires a level of finesse that needs to be enthusiastic but also professional. The client should know that we are happy about the project we are working on, but also that we are taking it seriously. Language describing approaches should be about the end-goal of our approach and not what they see on the page. Language should not be overly complicated or contain industry acronyms/terms just to sound smart.

We should strive to be honest in our language but also confident about what we are presenting. It is in poor showing to speak ill of an approach. When we explain something, we are doing so for the 80% who may not understand why we’ve done something. This is not a document to go to a producer or someone who knows the intricacies of our industry. We have to take into consideration that this document may get passed around from the lowliest marketing person to the CEO. So we should always be cognizant of that and adjust our language to encompass all observers.

Responsible Practices (Social Media)

Tagging

Always tag the responsible parties, both internally and externally. Tagging designers on projects and posts brings a level of humanity and accountability. It helps to differentiate and create clarity between work produced in-house, and external examples. Tag the companies the work is for, and use hashtags related to their product.

External Examples:

Look at how Huge tags their designers in any of the H-inspired posts. This follows through to all social media. https://www.instagram.com/hugeinc/

Hey Studio tags the designer, art direction, animator and/or photographer for each of their design related posts.  https://www.instagram.com/heystudio/

Hashtags should be considerate, used cautiously and with care. Have fun, but also check who else has used certain tags prior to using them. Do not only use generic tags like design or Atlanta. On platforms such as instagram, hashtags should be listed after an em dash.

Reposts

Avoid Reposts. They break the ability to have a cohesive design. It makes us look needy for followers, instead of being responsible as designers and creatives. Reposts make it difficult to differentiate between our work and “their” work, and in doing so undermines our job.

Relevant Content

If we were not a part of it, if we didn’t design it, if we are not involved in it — think before posting. Company culture and internal projects should always outnumber external ones.  Articles related to design and local culture should be no more than 20% of our posts throughout the week.  

Just because something is pretty, it does not mean we should post it. It is important to stay on brand and produce content that is related to the company. This also means related content does not need to include an image. On sites such as twitter, a link will suffice.

External Examples:

Matchstic and Son&Sons’ instagram has a great blend of company culture and design work. https://www.instagram.com/matchstichouse
https://www.instagram.com/sonandsons/

Frequency

Post fewer and better instead of more and worse. Space out posts on the same subject matter. We do not want to bombard our followers, or clients. If the message comes across with a single image, do not post more at the same time. Do not combine multiple photos into a single image to save space. They create breaks and flaws in a cohesive design.

Carousel formats on Instagram can work with planning and consideration. To create a cohesive carousel format, images must work together within the 3 column format of Instagram.

External Example:

Trip Fund utilizes their beautiful photography to create a cohesive carousel format Instagram. https://www.instagram.com/trip_fund/

On sites (such as facebook) create galleries of similar work, instead of creating individual posts.

Typography

Use the proper dash, hyphens, em-dashes and en-dashes. As a design agency, we need to show we pay attention to detail and know the differences.

When text is present in an image, it should be designed properly. If it is not necessary to have it as an image, post the text on its own.

Followers/Following

Do not follow bots, obvious fake accounts, or accounts that appear to be created for the sole purpose of gaining followers. In general practice, follow fewer than follow you. We do not have to follow everyone that follows us.

Not all social sites must remain equal.

Just because something works on twitter, does not mean it needs to be posted on facebook, and instagram. Instagram should be reserved for curated and designed images and messages. Twitter can serve as links to articles, sites. Facebook is a portal for all types of content in both long and short formats.

Perspective

Do not refer to ‘I’ in social media. The account is coming from the company and not an individual. It is important to have a unique voice that doesn’t come from an individual but rather a collective. If there are posts related to an activity the company is doing together (3 or more employees) then post about it, but if it's a single individual it starts to become irrelevant to our general message. We do this in order to bring authenticity to who we are and honesty to our brand’s culture.