Has anyone ever written brand voice guidelines? How did you approach it?

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I’ve done it a few times and one good way to start is call a brainstorming session with people who work on the brand. Describe your perfect audience/consumer/user and start from there. Is your brand aspirational, rugged, sophisticated? How would the consumer want to be talked to? Like a teammate or from a coach?

Write some “we are xyz” statements and some “we are not xyz” statement. Think about details, too. Do you call them ‘members or friends or...’

You get the picture. But a big brain dump is really smart for buy-in as well. You want your team to agree with your guide.

I love Audi’s guide. It may not be 100% what you’re looking for but it’s very sexy. Google Audi Brand Appearance.



Yes. I wish I knew a good approach, but I always just sort of plunge in and write it. Have some do’s and don’ts. Make reference to a character if you can. Find a succinct way to talk about how you want the brand to sound. Interested to see what other responses have to say.


I always find it useful to think of the brand as a human being. And their personality should determine how they speak. And then just put yourself in their shoes in different situations and imagine how that would affect the way they'd speak.

Definitely dig out some examples to give you structure. Check out Reed Words, they do "verbal identities" which are unbelievably comprehensive, but genuinely useful. https://www.reedwords.com/work/

And include examples in your TOV guidelines. As many as you can.

Do you know what the TOV is already? Or are you writing a new one from scratch?


Thank you so much! This is super helpful.

So, I’m actually not writing any guidelines yet. My agency doesn’t offer that as a service, and I’m proposing that we do, because a lot of the brands we work with don’t really have a TOV. So I’m trying to pilot this with my accounts but am not entirely sure how to broach it.


I usually do a paragraph on what we’re delivering in our comms and how we use language to reinforce that. Then I do a We Are Always: and list three words eg. DIRECT, PLAYFUL, HUMAN and then a sentence for each as a rationale eg. We say exactly what we mean; we don’t take ourselves too seriously; We empathize etc then do a We are Never: VERBOSE, HIGH-MINDED, SALESY and then do the same. You can even structure it in threes as We Are Always—Without Being—And Never if you want more nuance in there. And then it’s alwYs great if you have headlines etc as examples. The sweet spot is providing a firm understanding of the personality/voice with a rationale without building too small a box that it makes it a pain to work within. Last, as a writer it should make you excited to work on the brand.


Very useful thread. Thank you. This is a difficult task for me as well because of the “where do i start” aspect. And i love the thought that when it’s successful, you get excited to actually write the work.


I always lean on best-in-class examples. And I tell cheesy corporate stories, “When I worked on (HUGE BRAND X), we did this. We’re stealing that move.”

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