Writing in the Brand Voice
Brands have personality (just like people). Voice is how that personality is conveyed in communications. Sentence structure, word choice and tone all create a distinct character that shouts "Purdue University." Here's how to do it consistently.
Just as you'd change your tone based on whom you were speaking to and what you were saying, Purdue's written voice bends on the subject matter and audience. Our brand voice ranges from information to promotional, depending upon the project and audience. Our brand voice feels friendly, simple, practical and, at times, inspirational. Our brand voice sounds conversational, smart, sophisticated and, at times, energetic.
Below are some tips that can help you convey the eureka moment in copy. They all use the brand voice while expressing a sense of urgency and excitement that shows our culture of discovery. These are examples. Add your own techniques as you become more familiar with the brand voice.
Use the moment as a device.
"1:23 p.m.: the moment you ..."
Use present tense.
This is the instant happens
Avoid gerunds wherever possible. The eureka moment is about being active and powerful.
"—ing" words sound soft and unsure
"Make a difference" vs. "Making a difference"
Ask a question.
Did you know ... ?
Have you seen ... ?
Will you discover ... ?
Brand voice examples
Below are examples showing different ways the brand voice can bend, depending on audience and context, while still sounding consistent.
The brand voice uses every opportunity to highlight the eureka moment.
"Forecasting Flight: Ideas for Innovation in Aerospace"
“Rolls-Royce Memorial Lecture Series: The Future of Flight"
"This is a place where like minds meet. Where business ventures are born. Where tomorrow's leaders learn to lead. Krannert Weekend is your chance to see what it's all about."
"Krannert Weekend 2010: We're waiting for you."
"1:23 p.m.: Professor Dave Bauer sets down his violin bow and sees the world in a new light. He's just discovered a new chemical compound to detect cancer."
"Professor Dave Bauer's research in the field of biochemical engineering may have led to a new cancer detection analysis."
The brand voice uses an active tone and simple language to convey immediacy.
"Make your Mark"
"Leaving a Legacy"
"It takes confidence to take a good idea and dive in. These young Boilermakers have that trait in abundance."
"Purdue has many young Boilermakers whose achievements we can all root for."
"State of Change: Ideas from Purdue help power the Indiana economy"
"2010: Moving Indiana Forward"
Remember, the Purdue voice is NOT
Sassy: "Bet you didn't know Purdue has 22 astronauts. Yeah, that's right."
Excited: "We promise this will be your best year ever!!!"
Sales-y: "Get more for your money at Purdue."
Overly technical: "Advanced analysis of palladium-catalyzed carbon-based molecular reactions."
Writing for the Web
While we apply the same principles to writing for the Web as we do for print pieces, there are a few specific things to keep in mind. First, and most important, it is best to use short sentences and paragraphs when writing for a Web audience. If possible, try to stick to one idea per paragraph. Also, try to put your most important information at the beginning of your copy, so that the reader does not have to hunt for it. Finally, remember that subheadings, lists and hyperlinks can help improve the readability of your Web copy.
Search engine optimized language
It's important that our brand voice and personality carry through every communication about Purdue — even those that aren't readily apparent. "Meta" information is used by search engines like Google to help determine which pages to deliver in search results. This copy appears in the code of our home page. But the keywords may influence how you write Web content (especially headlines) on any page.
Home page meta description (120 characters or less)
Purdue University is a major research institution known for discoveries in science, technology, engineering, math and beyond.