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Voice And Tone Guide

SavvyX™

Writing, Voice And Tone Guide

 

Our Principles

 

At SavvyX, we focus on helping digital enterprises to deliver better b2h (business to human) experiences and build better relationships through effective, seamless, delightful and intelligent design of marketing, content and intentional flow.

We exist to make a positive difference from brands and their experiential relationships. Despite the intangibility of our work, we guarantee satisfaction for what we do. We are fully committed to helping our customers be bolder in sharing their value and unique perspective with their worlds.

 

The SavvyX Mission

 
To help enterprises understand how to humanize their experiences through positioning and communicating intangible benefits, clear messaging and intentionally designed customer experience.
 

The SavvyX Principles

 

Fresh. We believe fresh results come from innovative, visionary perspective combined with the willingness to act on it. We help our clients see with new eyes their brand, solutions and relationship potential to take new action with agility in revitalizing their brand and growing their market share.

Engage. Friendly, real, authentic, transparent ‘peopleness’ is the heart of successful business – including ours. What you see is what you get. We speak truth and back our commitments through grounded connection with our customers and their customers and markets.

Inspire. There is always a next level – and it may come through unusual means. We look for new and exciting opportunities to increase our value and optimize our customers’ investment in us as well as increasing our customers’ value to their audiences.

Bold. It is impossible to conform and stand out at the same time; we catalyze our clients to be more courageous, more audacious and more daring in their marketing so they can attract their exact right customers. It’s about visibility with personality to capture attention, hearts and, ultimately, profits.

Genius. Cultivating experiences mixes insight with a dash of creativity, an insouciant of personality and the right data. Fear has no place in genius – only a willingness to allow flow. And a certain direct simplicity in expressing even the most complex thoughts and ideas with ease and clarity.
 

Writing Goals

 

Every piece of content can increase our credibility, capacity to serve and authority within the digital content marketing and branding space (or not).

In order to convey a memorable presence, optimize all our opportunities, build brand equity and be consistent in our public persona, please remember that our goals are to bring innovative and high-impact results that inspire our clients and the audiences they (and we) serve.

Through our content, our goals are to:

Respect. Our readers are real people who deserve respect on every level. Consider every piece of content as you would if you were the reader. Communicate sincerely and authentically.

Educate. Give our readers the information they need to know about SavvyX for their enterprise and our products through clear, supportive and positive language. People do not want to buy but they do want to learn.

Empower. Our readers and clients are intelligent, savvy people who want what they want when they want it. Our content must guide and support them by offering a clear path of action to easily achieve their goals and next steps.

Be Real. Life has enough hype in other areas; through our content, readers will get only value and the truth as we know it without hyperbole or grandiosity. Our strengths are awesome enough without extra embellishment.

Accordingly, our content must be:

Clear. Use direct language and phrasing for maximum understanding.

Helpful. Aim for being purposeful, relevant, practical and timely.

Friendly. Share in an approachable, down-to-earth way to make it relatable.

Appropriate. Just like in any conversation, adjust your writing tone to the current situation.

Fresh. No recycled thinking or playing it safe in terms of perspective – let’s keep it interesting.
 

Voice And Tone

 

Voice and tone are separate yet related concepts that combine to represent the personality and worldview of SavvyX. Just as with any conversation, the voice does not change but the tone changes depending on who is in the conversation, the subject of the conversation and the emotional aspect of the conversation. (It is one thing to order dinner from a waiter and another to tell your spouse you’ve just won a dream trip for one.)

❖ Voice = Tells the reader who is speaking. In writing, the voice is created through sentence structure and word choices.

❖ Tone = Gives the reader the “feeling” of the exchange. In writing, it is created – and varies – by how the writing sounds as it projects the worldview, or interpretation of circumstances, through the writer’s voice.

The voice is based on unchanging values and attributes, while individuals within SavvyX may have a distinct voice through thought leadership positioning.

The SavvyX Voice is more than individual words, grammar and syntax (order of words); instead, it is the presence created and style of communication that becomes identifiable as part of our brand.

If SavvyX were a person, what would s/he sound like?

The SavvyX voice is on track for our personality when it includes at least four of seven elements: human-centric, direct, intelligent, human, positive, engaging and active.
 

Tone

The SavvyX tone of voice in writing accommodates the medium and is usually informal. When writing, take a step back to read what you wrote with ‘beginner’s mind’ to see if it makes sense to someone who does not know anything about SavvyX. If there is a chance that additional information or clarity is needed, refine what you wrote accordingly.

Remember that it is always more important to be clear than amusing. Humor can be engaging but does not always translate well through different mediums so use personal humor sparingly. Never force humor or use humor at someone’s expense; if you are unsure whether something is funny or could be misinterpreted, stick to the facts and forego the humor.

In terms of originality, remember to meet or slightly exceed your reader’s expectations. As a general rule, deviating too far from their norm will not bring benefit; instead, express yourself as well as possible within the communication venue.
 

Style Tips

Use active voice; avoid passive voice. A clear, concise sentence uses a strong, precise verb and is the ‘active voice’. In a sentence written in the ‘active voice’, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the ‘passive voice’, the subject receives the action. For example: the chicken crossed the road (active) vs. the road was crossed by the chicken (passive).

Avoid slang, jargon and clichés. Write in plain English.

Write positively vs. negatively. Our voice is positive so please choose engaging, uplifting words: remember (vs. forget), definitely (vs. no problem), sounds good (vs. why not), please (vs. don’t do…). When the phrase references the problem or the ‘not’ side of the subject, it is ‘heavier’; when the phrase references enthusiasm and encouragement, it is positive. This is a subtle, but important, difference in communicating our brand.

Writing about people. Do not reference gender, age or disability unless it’s relevant. Use appropriate or preferred pronouns; if you do not know those, use their name.

References should be their name. Refer to a program, campaign or team by name, such as: ‘Sprint 1’,’ ‘New Customer Onboarding’, ‘Marketing Team’, etc. and do the same when talking about customers, participants, applications, etc.
 

Ensure Accessibility

 

Writing in a way that makes our content is usable and accessible to the widest possible audience means organizing key points, guiding readers through the content and easily understood next action steps.

Organize the content with the most important information first. Group similar points in the same paragraph and separate different topics with sub-headings. If you are referencing a list, use bullet points instead of ‘chunk-y’ paragraphs.

If you are creating a form, make sure the fields are clearly marked. The shorter the form, the better for reader completion.

Calls to action (buttons) should use descriptive and affirmative language, such as ‘sign me up’ or ‘register now’ (vs. the generic ‘click here’).

Images should all have alt tag language, which describes the image in a way that helps search engines bring up relevant SavvyX pages for user searches as well as people who are visually impaired to know what the picture is about as the alt tag copy is e-read to them. The alternative tag should be localized to the language used on the page to avoid confusion. Each browser handles alt tags slightly differently so be sure to add standard captions when possible.

Example of an Alt Tag:
<img alt=”the dog is jumping” src=”http://images/dog.jpg”>

This will allow a person listening to content of the webpage to understand the image in addition to the content.

Transcribe videos and repurpose video content into other formats (infographics, slides, etc.) for maximum consumability (and sharing) by readers.

Suggestions to ensure accessibility include:

● Do the word choices and structure accurately reflect the SavvyX brand while giving the reader a concise message?

● If the reader were to scan the content, would they be able to understand the main point(s) of it?

● In the absence of visual context and content (colors, images, video), is the message still clear?

● Will the content work well on mobile devices (or should it be edited, shortened or have more breaks)?
 

Grammar and Mechanics

 

Grammar is, to a degree, contextual. That is because grammar will vary according to the format for the writing (i.e., a thought leadership article is different from a web page from a Tweet).

In general, outside of social media, please avoid using…
● Contractions (e.g., we’re, it’s, don’t, we’ll, you’ll, etc.).
● The word ‘should’ (unless it truly applies).
● Numbers for less than 10 (i.e., spell out for less than 10 and use numbers higher than 10 – e.g., ‘there are six events’ is ok, as is ‘there are 60 events’).
● Clichés (e.g., ‘a bunch’, ‘pretty much’, etc.).
● Too many commas (think of a comma as a breathing point and to ‘capture’ inserted phrases like ‘The servers, which are cloud-based, handle great amounts of data.’).
● The symbol . . ., called an ellipses, to indicate a continuing thought (because it actually stands for an omission of content or, informally, signals a trailing off of thought. Better to use etc. in such cases.).
● Ampersands (e.g., ‘drag & drop’ should be ‘drag and drop’).
● Abbreviated jargon (e.g., CRM, KPI, RDIF, etc.)
● The / symbol too frequently (as it visually ‘chops’ the page). If you do use it, be sure to have a space before and after the symbol. If used in a list, it is better to use bullet points.

Other tips include:

Go light on conjunctions. Conjunctions are used to connect words, phrases, or clauses (e.g., and, but, since, as, though, unless, so that, before, because, etc.). Take care to avoid using too many conjunctions in one sentence as it will create a ‘run-on’ sentence.

Use right syntax (or order). Syntax means putting things in right order, from words to sentences to marketing concepts. When writing, make sure to build words and concepts in a way that leads the reader in an optimal way to what you want them to know. Just as people need to understand the article with the title first, content should start with the largest, most significant concept and drill down to the details.

Use personal pronouns appropriately. Pronoun usage indicates the presence of your customer within the content of your writing. ‘We’ and ‘us’ connote having the same viewpoint (being a team), while avoiding personal pronouns or using ‘they’ and ‘them’ contrasts something awkward for the reader and puts distance between the reader and the object of your writing. (We need to do this… vs. They need to do this…)

Be human-centric. Our customers are our focal point vs. our positioning on a given topic; be sure our customers are the subject of written sentences.

Simple word choice (vocabulary). Longer words may be more precise but risk losing a casual tone. Your written words should sound casual. Match your word choice to what will best convey the idea and what will be most easily understood by our readers. After all, it is far more perspicacious to use discernment for the edification of your reader, right?

Check for typos. Please use spell-check for your writing to avoid typos.

Proper spacing. Between sentences, use one space. Between paragraphs, use two spaces.

Avoid abbreviations. To maximize clarity, use abbreviations – contractions, acronyms or shortened phrases – sparingly because they can read like alphabet soup.

Avoid double negatives. Using two negative words (‘don’t never’, ‘can’t not’, etc.) in the same sentence is not only poor grammar but also informal (in the not good way) and confusing. In short, do not use double negatives – there is a simpler, more direct way to get your point across.
 

Content Types

 

Our content shapes based on the reader’s need; here are examples where we offer content to our readers.

Social Media Posts
20 – 30 words that highlight blog posts, events, notable customers, statistics, best practices, etc.

● Facebook: 40 characters for a status update (maximum length of a status update is 63,206 characters)

● Twitter: 140 characters max – ideally 100 characters without a link or 120 characters with a link, comment with a retweet uses 116 characters max, a link in a tweet takes up to 24 characters (leaving 116 for writing)

● LinkedIn: headline of 120 characters, post of 2,000 characters max, status update 600 characters

Tutorials
Brief copy or videos (up to 3 minutes) that teach the readers and users in a step-by-step way how to do a particular action.

Website Copy
10 – 10,000 words that market the SavvyX products and services to our customers and potential customers.

Blog Posts / Articles
250 – 1,600 words that inform readers about the SavvyX product features, content marketing best practices and more. The ideal headline is 8 – 12 words and under 70 characters.

Email Newsletters
200 – 1,500 words that inform about and market the SavvyX products, services and other customers’ experiences in order to empower our customers to take new action in creating savvy experiences for their audiences.

White Papers
2,000 – 10,000 words that present detailed insights on issues, technology and opportunities within the content marketing and branding space to help our customers and potential customers make better decisions.

Brand Experience Guide
1,500 – 3,000 words that describe how our customers and potential customers will experience SavvyX visually in terms of products, services and support.

Customer Experience Guide
2,000 – 5,000 words that show customers and potential customers how to use the SavvyX philosophy to increase audience engagement on deeper levels.

Technical / Help Content
100 – 2,000 easily consumable words on particular topics, problems or frequently asked questions that will help our customers and, possibly, their audiences to make the most of the SavvyX products and services.

Legal Content
1,000 – 4,000 words that detail our policies on user data privacy, how we handle customer accounts and terms of use on what our customers can and cannot do with SavvyX’s website and content.

Press Releases / Media Alerts
300 – 600 words to announce updates, achievements and awards to our media friends and Press page.
 

Storytelling

 

In a digital world, product features and functionality define the content while the story sets the context to differentiate the technology and engage potential and current customers. Facts tell, stories sell.

Storytelling presents information about SavvyX in a way that resonates on an emotional level with our readers. Stories make potentially confusing information into something relevant by systematically leading the reader from one point to the next.

A good company story will embody SavvyXs’ beliefs and personality in a way that is memorable and engaging. This happens by distilling any particular story’s elements into their most basic forms until they become universal concepts that nearly everyone can understand and relate to in their own lives.

For example, here is a story about the origins of SavvyX.

After being in the world of business for decades, we saw that enterprises were getting so caught up in the transactional part of customer relationships that they were leaving the customer behind or – worse – forgetting their customers are real people. SavvyX came from seeing enterprises either botch their experiences or flounder when they could be exceptional with the right perspective, structure and approach in relating with their customers.

By working together for nearly two years on one project, the co-founders discovered they have an amazing range of complementary skills, experiences and mindsets – not to mention personalities. One eats numbers for breakfast, is analytical and loves strategy development, the big picture and customer journeys; the other is a wordsmith, focusing on content development, a philosophical approach and the human experience – and both remove the complexity from marketing and organizational transformation, say what needs to be said with conscious awareness and believe in the power of sharing knowledge and expertise. Together, they create and deliver personalize the keys to organizational growth and accelerate results through extreme focus. Their style allows enterprises to compress their transformation yet experience deep shifts and measurable results.

Oh – and we believe in keeping it easy… when you do it the savvy way, you leverage what you know to have more of what you want with less effort.

A good story will:
● Be about a specific person or a small group of people (rather than a company as a whole).
● Draw out basic human emotions such as frustration, hope or excitement.
● Feature a challenge that requires the main character to change or learn something.
● Include details to make the story unique.

Stories are found in the details of everyday living – naturally, these are the most relatable by the most readers. Small discoveries, little victories or a victory can engage the reader as they see themselves in your story.

Stories are also about doing things differently with a unique perspective. For example, in a time when most enterprises were focused on digital efficiency, SavvyX was focused on creating a seamless human engagement experience for enterprises to strengthen their brand relationships, personalize their customer experiences at all levels and design adventure flows for audiences to discover their brand.

Visionaries understand that story.

Remember that stories end with a solution and, preferably, with a call to action.
 

Web Elements

 

Every piece of published content is supported by smaller pieces; in terms of web elements, this is vital for our search engine optimization (SEO). Following are guidelines for web elements for our content.

Alt text: a way to label images with a description, which is especially important for web bots and people who cannot see the images on our site.

Buttons: for calls to action, where the reader or website visitor is being asked to do something. The word choice should be clear, concise and descriptive (as examples, ‘Email Us’, ‘Send It Now’, ‘Subscribe’). Capitalize each word and use ampersands (‘&’) if needed.

Checkboxes: use sentences to describe the checkboxes.

Drop-down menus: use titles for menus and sentences to describe menu items.

Forms: keep them as short as possible by asking only for the information that is needed and will be used. Be sure to efficiently describe the purpose of the form for the reader.

Headers and subheaders: help organize thought sequence and flow for readers through descriptive headers (H1) and subheaders (H2, H3, etc.). Break articles into smaller sections to make it more consumable; use hierarchy to organize headers and subheaders (H1 will always be first while the secondary will follow). Headers should have relevant keywords.

Links: if you refer to an external website or article, provide a link to direct the reader to trusted resources by simply hyperlinking key words or a phrase that relates to the resource. Be sure to avoid linking the punctuation at the end of the phrase or sentence.

Lists: use lists to show steps, groups or sets of information; be sure to give context to the list by writing a brief introduction to it for the reader. Number lists when you have referenced numbers or the order is important; otherwise, use bullet points. Typically, you will capitalize the first word of each list item.

Navigation: main or global navigation should be in title case while subnavigation should be in sentence case. Navigation structure should be easy to follow for the reader.

Related resources: if you are sharing additional resources at the end of a piece of content, keep it to no more than three. Organize them in a logical way by having the most relevant appear first. Avoid repeating links that were used or referenced in the body of the content.

Titles: organize pages and guide readers through the available content by highlighting a key concept from that content.

SEO: helps digital searchers find what they are looking for based on content and keywords. We write for humans (not bots) by organizing content effectively around one topic per page or article, using clear descriptive titles and headers and giving every image descriptive alt text.
 

Copyright and Trademarks

 

Copyright protection applies to original work(s) that exist in a tangible medium (art, audios, short stories) and does not require formal filings to be recognized.

Copyright law applies to nearly every piece of content produced by SavvyX staff – including website, blog posts, articles and more.

We display our copyright notice on our website and content pieces that are created in one of two ways as follows:
© [Year] SavvyX
© [Year – Year] All Rights Reserved. SavvyX®

If we use or reference someone else’s copyrighted work, we gain a license from the owner(s). A copyright license details where, when and for how long we can use the work, what we will pay for using the work, if it is an exclusive use of the work, what we can do with the work and any restrictions that might be placed on using the work (e.g., on a landing page but not in a digital ad).

If you use copyrighted work, always respect the owner by citing a reference; do not make it look like you created that piece of work on your own.

If you are citing a publicly available piece of content found on social media (for example, retweeting a post), you may not need to request permission from the owner. If in doubt, ask one of the partners.

All images used in SavvyX content are either original, were purchased for use or are downloaded from a known royalty-free, approved source.

If you, as a writer, need to get a copyright license for work at SavvyX for yourself or another person (whether a staff member, vendor or external user), please contact one of the partners.

A trademark, which is also called simply a mark, can be a word, name, sign, design or combination of those and is used to identify the provider of a particular product or service through words and images. A trademark is only valid for as long as it indicates the source of that product or service. Even the nicest companies have to protect their trademarks from time to time; if properly protected, it can become the company’s most valuable asset over time.

We have a trademark for SavvyX(™), which means that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office recognizes our unique trademark – and we will protect it.

In terms of writing our trademark, the ® symbol should appear after our name the first time our name is used in an article or press release (with only our name after that point) or anywhere that our trademark and copyright notice does not appear.

We register trademarks on all of our major products and services. If you have an idea for a name or are working on a new offering for SavvyX and question whether it should be trademarked, please contact one of the partners directly.
 

Key Terminology

 

Keywords help our potential and current customers find SavvyX via digital means. When writing, please keep in mind and use the following keywords in your writing.

Primary keywords:
● Digital Transformation
● B2B Strategy
● Experience Mapping
● Transformation Leadership
● Experience Marketing
● Content Marketing
● Digital Marketing
● Customer Journey
● Customer Experience
● Digital Strategy
● Digital Journey
● Brand Management
● Customer Experience Flow

Technical keywords:
● Digital Brand Management
● Digital Experience Management
● Thought Leadership
● Customer Experience Management
● User Experience Management

Marketing keywords:
● Digital Transformation
● Brand Development
● Thought Leadership
● Digital Strategy
● Social Media Strategy
● Leadership Development
● Change Management
● Personalized Marketing
● 1:1 Marketing
● Omnichannel Marketing
● Brand Awareness
● Digital Marketing
● Brand Management
● Marketing Positioning
● Persona Development
● Journey Development
● Social Media Marketing
● Email Marketing
● Community Marketing
● Campaign Strategy
● Editorial Strategy
● Editorial Calendar
● Social Media Calendar
● Marketing Collateral
 

Word List

 

There are words that may have multiple ways to write; here is how we at SavvyX write them.

● add-on (noun, adjective), add on (verb)
● back end (noun), back-end (adjective)
● beta
● checkbox
● coworker
● double-click
● drag-and-drop
● drop-down (noun, adjective), drop down (verb)
● ebook (vs. eBook)
● email (never hyphenate, never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
● emoji (singular and plural)
● front end (noun), front-end (adjective)
● geolocation
● Home page
● integrate
● internet (do not capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
● login (noun, adjective), log in (verb)
● Like (the social media activity)
● multichannel / omnichannel
● multi-language (or multi-lingual)
● multi-site
● ok (vs. OK, which shouts at people)
● online (never capitalize unless it begins a sentence)
● opt-in (noun, adjective), opt in (verb)
● on-site (never onsite)
● plug-and-play
● pop-up (noun, adjective), pop up (verb)
● signup (noun, adjective), sign up (verb)
● synch
● username
● URL
● website
● WiFi

Words To Avoid

● Funnel (people deserve more respect than to be treated like cattle)
● Internets (or interwebs)
● Ninja (as a verb)
● Young, old, elderly (or other descriptions of chronological age)
● Crush, kill, maim (or other descriptions of winning by conquering)
● Crazy, insane, loco (or other negatively judgmental words about people)

Words That Are Always Welcome

● Acknowledge
● Appreciate
● Gratitude
● Respect
● Understand
 

Hashtags

 

Hashtags should be under 11 characters (and shorter if possible); use 1 – 2 hashtags per social media post.

#SavvyX
#b2hmarketing
#experiencemarketing
#digitalmarketing
#digitaltransformation
#customerexperience
#contentmarketing
#CX
#socialmedia
#employeeexperience
#b2bstrategy
#businessdevelopment
#organizationaldynamics
#lynnscheurell
 

Check Yourself

 

As a writer for SavvyX, you are responsible for bringing our brand to life through your words. Given that our business environment is increasingly sophisticated, our content must cut through the noise by being clear, resonant, intelligent and congruent with our brand in the marketplace.

Remember that you are leading the digital content marketing and branding industry through your words – you are a leader by virtue of the fact that you are representing SavvyX. Accordingly, please use good judgment and discernment in your writing.

Ask yourself the following questions to make sure that your writing expresses the SavvyX voice. Be prepared to work with your writing until it clearly represents SavvyX well.

● Are there extra, unnecessary, redundant or ‘fluffy’ words or concepts that do not add value for the reader?

● Does your writing capture the reader’s interest and present a good topic with relevance and practicality?

● Did you communicate the key concepts and benefits with the right word choices and explanations?

● Is your work credible (believable, knowledgeable, supported by substance) with a powerful presentation of the ideas in it?

● Does your content feel fresh, clear, helpful, friendly, innovative and congruent with our position as leaders in humanizing brands and customer experiences?

● Does your writing reflect the SavvyX personality by being authentic and respecting, educating and empowering the reader?

If you find that your work needs additional refinement, please take the time to do it. Our brand depends on premium content for optimal communication with our customers and their audiences.

www.SavvyX.com