Tone of voice for…

When punters haul up to a bar, what do they see?

A fridge full of skulls and cosmonauts. That’s Beavertown. Their artwork blurs the edges of reality. Their words do the same.

I developed Beavertown’s tone of voice. After some frenzied workshops, I eventually defined four techniques: two to keep them down to earth; and two to kick their writing into hyperdrive.

See the writing style in action:

Tone of voice for…

It was a conundrum

BT, EE, Plusnet and Openreach each had their own voice, their own personality, their own stories to tell. And this raised a question. When all these brands were already speaking… how could the parent company, BT Group, use its voice?

I worked with people from around BT Group to find the answer, deciding that the voice should a) connect the other brands, b) amplify stories from across the group.

Their tone of voice sounds like a thoughtful talk show host. BT Group passes the mic, so that colleagues, customers and business units can have their say. Here are some examples of that writing style:

Advertising for…

Yes, I can still fix a router

I was a founding member of BT Group’s in-house studio. In my four years with the team, I wrote whitepapers about cybersecurity, odes to key workers, and plenty of ads.

Here are some of my favourite campaigns:

After this ad appeared in The Telegraph, directory enquiries saw a 10% increase in calls. It conjures up nostalgic memories and explains the service, all in a few words.

In March 2020, BT had a couple of big problems: our key workers were being harassed for ‘breaking lockdown’; and our network was under attack, because of a conspiracy theory about 5G. With no budget, I set out to change public opinion. Instead of fanning the flames by addressing the conspiracy directly, I devised a positive campaign for social media to show the public why our engineers, advisors and infrastructure were essential to the UK. Our first post made 194k impressions on Twitter (roundly beating the Group account’s average of 4-5k impressions per post) and that was just the beginning of an uplifting, impactful campaign.

Businesses are built on human relationships, but companies often come across as cold and impersonal in their ads. My ‘business rule’ campaign avoided this pitfall by featuring BT Global’s experts.

This ad holds a lot of product information, but the focus isn’t on features. Its headline and imagery hooks new parents eager to capture their baby’s every gesture.

After the launch of Skills for Tomorrow in October 2019, it fell to me and the film team to explain how the programme was going to give 10 million people digital skills by 2025. We decided to film five interviews with people who had benefitted from Skills for Tomorrow. The programme had led them to secure jobs, teach kids and win business. And these are the posters that completed the campaign. It generated positive coverage and helped improve one of our key sentiment scores by 94%.

Product descriptions for…

Move your mind

The average sportswear brand fixates on your body. ASICS wants to move your mind. I held ASICS’ philosophy close as I wrote product descriptions for a new range of clothing – descriptions like:

Move smoothly from start to finish​
One piece of breathable fabric, mapped to a runner’s body and vented in all the right places. See how a cool, smooth feeling leads to a seamless run. 

This table offers a glimpse of my thought process:

ProductUnique featureBenefitTagline
Road 2-N-1 7in ShortElasticated inner layerSupportTotal mobility. Zero distraction.
Wild Camo SS TopMesh panels and flat seamsComfortTotal comfort. Zero distraction.
Road 3.5in ShortSide slits and high waistFree movementTotal freedom. Zero distraction.
Seamless SS TopSingle piece of fabricEasy movementTotal ease. Zero distraction.
Accelerate BraAdjustable back strapsSupportTotal support. Zero distraction.
Ventilate Actibreeze SingletSide slits and ventilationCoolnessTotal vitality. Zero distraction.
Ventilate 5in ShortStretch woven materialFlexibilityTotal flex. Zero distraction.
Ventilate Actibreeze TankBreathable fabricCoolnessTotal flow. Zero distraction.

Messaging for…

Catriona Maclay wanted to do more

She saw students struggling in her class. She noticed kids falling behind. They needed more support than she could hope to give from inside her North London classroom. Her frustration mounted until, in 2010, she launched a volunteering programme that grew into Literacy Pirates.

When I spoke to Literacy Pirates, they didn’t need more teachers (fully staffed – result!). But they were after a messaging guide. And that was something I could give them for free. So I started scheduling calls, holding interviews, and crafting copy. Here are just a few lines of my guide – Talk like a literacy pirate:

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