Writing

Voice and tone

Voice

What we mean by brand voice:

The authentic personality of our brand: 1) If Sprout were a real person, what would we 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.

How do we achieve it:

Our voice is an expression of who we are as a company, so in order to define it we must start with our brand positioning, company beliefs and values.

The Sprout brand voice

Above all else, Sprout aims to remain personable in our communication.

Because at our core, what’s most important to us is fostering relationships.

Creating real connection between brands and their consumers.

Between people.

With the goal of fostering relationships and creating real connection, our voice is:

Smart

Confident

Compassionate

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

Smart

Sprout messaging should always feel conversational, but the type of conversation you have with a smart, well-spoken professional. We want to build up a reputation of authority and leadership. Responses should be well thought out. Avoid slang and flippant language.

However that doesn’t mean being overly formal or unduly technical. We’re not trying to impress others with big words and jargon.

Too casual: “Access tons of Tweet deets like @mentions and siq search results with Sprout’s social listening tools.”

Too technical: “Analyze the sentiment of your Tweets with intentional, automated search queries using Sprout’s suite of enterprise listening capabilities.”

Just right: “Sprout’s social listening tools give brands deeper insight into consumer sentiment on Twitter.”

Confident

Conversations with confident individuals give you the impression that you’re talking to someone who knows what they’re talking about. Confidence builds trust. Sprout communication should always be assertive, clear and concise.

There’s a fine line between confident and cocky. Take care to avoid coming off pretentious or arrogant. Avoid boastful communication and remember to always keep the focus on the customer.

Too arrogant: “We did it again. Yet another world-class tool for our customers.”

Too timid/unsure: “We hope you’ll find our latest new feature helpful.”

Just right: “We heard your requests and are happy to announce our latest feature release.”

Compassionate

What sets the Sprout brand apart from others in the industry is our heart for people: both internal and external. In essence, no matter how smart or savvy we may be, we still genuinely care about the success and well-being of our customers and our customers’ customers. We like to have fun and be playful, but we should never be snarky or sassy. In our communication we should always strive to remain respectful, considerate, inclusive, caring and empathetic.

Be careful to balance this compassion out with confidence and sophistication, or else we run the risk of compromising authority by being too agreeable and/or apologetic. Also be careful not to patronize or condescend.

Too snarky: “Hold your horses will ya? We’re doing our best to get it back up and running.”

Too apologetic: “We are so unbelievably sorry about this. Glitches are completely unacceptable.”

Just right: “It looks like we’re experiencing a temporary glitch. Please know we’re doing everything in our power to get the platform back up and running. Thanks for your patience.”

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:

Table containing different audience members and levels

By content type:

Table containing different content types, their users, goals, and tones