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University of Hertfordshire

Working with strategic and creative partners pslondon, University of Hertfordshire refreshed their brand proposition to create a more distinctive positioning in a crowded market. As part of the refresh, they asked us to help define their tone of voice, create a hit list of top tips, and train their team to energise their writing.

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The challenge

Tone of Voice guides can be as off-putting as they are helpful. Lots of useful principles, but hard for teams to put into practice. Having agreed a set of tonal principles that established their voice, we were concerned people would struggle to remember them all.

It’s also common for guides to languish on intranets or inboxes. Without training, the writing advice can remain lifeless. To complicate matters, the pandemic arrived and training on campus was not possible!

What we did

Created a concept

Our goal was to help Herts energise their writing. We started with ten top tips that were easy to remember. Then we worked with PS London to develop an eye-catching battery icon that showed how much energy each tip added to their writing.

Made the tips practical

The ten tips covered best practice including avoiding the passive voice, but it also touched on more creative copy like writing irreverent headlines. Each one was designed to be easy to use immediately. And cater for different levels of energy.

Crafted examples

Looking at existing marketing material, we crafted a range of examples to help the reader apply the advice. The team felt it was important to highlight what terrible, bad, mediocre and good copy looks like, which the battery analogy made more memorable.

Trained the team

We were able to move the training sessions online as the pandemic hit. We ran three sessions on Zoom, carefully prepped in advance with polls and chat to keep the team engaged and involved. The final session dealt exclusively with headline writing which proved very popular.

The results

The ten tips and tone of voice advice went live online and proved a very useful resource to the team. As well as the ten top tips, we ran three online sessions that were attended by 26 members of the team. The feedback on Zoom chat was extremely positive. The only downside is we didn’t have enough time to answer everyone’s questions. So we look forward to running more sessions with the teams in future!

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