Voice and Tone

Robert Mills

Ask anyone who works with me at Bluegg and they will tell you that I’m obsessed with tone of voice. Particularly the fact that we seem to have reached saturation point with Innocent type copycats and also with companies, like LoveFilm, who have tones that aren’t best targeted at their audience or representative of their brand.

It was with much delight then that when reading Redesigning With Personality by Aarron Walter over on Smashing Magazine I was introduced to Voice and Tone.


Voice & Tone ‘helps anyone who writes for MailChimp maintain the voice and personality of the brand while adapting the tone to match the reader’s emotional state.’

Not only is it great that a company like MailChimp has commissioned this guide, a step forward from more traditional brand guidelines, but it is even better that their wisdom is available for anyone to learn from. It’s not the sort of guide that can be applied directly to every business or brand but I still think every one could take bits from it and dissect their own voice and tone.


The purpose of this guide is best described on its About page:

This interactive chart takes you through the different types of content MailChimp publishes. As you scroll through the content types, you’ll get a sense of how a user might feel in each scenario, and how we’d speak to that user. This isn’t meant to be used as a lookup tool or a set of rules. It’s meant to change our perspective, and help us put ourselves in our readers’ shoes.


One element to note on the design is the clever use of colour for the content types down the side. It moves somewhat subtely from green to blue to purple, pink to orange to red. I blogged recently about my love of grouping and organising content by colour and whilst this is a slightly different application of this technique, I do like how red has been used for the Failure Message and Compliance Alert pages because red is a colour associated with danger and warnings.

It’s a brilliant resource for anyone involved in creating content for the web, no matter what that involvement is. Don’t just take my word for it though, get over to Voice and Tone as soon as you can and see for yourself how absurdly great it is.