Everyone has a voice that is specific to them and their personality. Brands are no different. The Spokane voice aims to be clear and concise while also creating a visual picture of who and what Spokane is as place through words. Our content style guide outlines how to write in the Spokane voice and the elements to consider when telling the Spokane story.
Tell readers what they need to know, not just what we want to say. Give them the exact information they need, along with opportunities to learn more. Remember that we’re the expert on greater Spokane, and readers don’t have access to everything we know. Ask yourself, if you had never been to greater Spokane, would the content tell the story of who Spokane is?
Think of yourself as a guide for our leisure travelers and convention guests. Whether you’re describing our Placemakers and Tastemakers or the efficiency of our time economy, communicate in a friendly and helpful way. Speak the way real people would speak. Down to earth.
Gracefully overcome misperceptions about greater Spokane. The easiest way is to respond, not react. We will thoughtfully respond to any negative stereotypes or prejudices. We won’t let those comments go by unchecked. We will positively shift the narrative.
The goal is to write in a simple and natural way. We will tell greater Spokane’s story as if we were telling our a neighbor a story. Avoid listing assets, avoid dramatic storytelling and remember that we all have different expectations for what our experience is going to be.
In order to achieve those goals, we make sure our content is:
Voice and Tone
What’s the difference between voice and tone? Think of it this way: You have the same voice all the time, but your tone changes. You might use one tone when you're out to dinner with your closest friends, and a different tone when you're in a meeting with your boss.
Spokane's voice is:
One way to think of our voice is to compare what it is to what it isn’t.
Spokane's voice is:
- Approachable, but not a pushover
- Calm, but not boring
- Simple, but not folksy
- Collaborative, but not overwhelming
- Bold, but not overbearing
- Spirited, but not annoying
Spokane's tone is:
Our tone changes depending on the situation, but it's always authentic. We have a sense of humor so feel free to be funny when it’s appropriate and when it comes naturally to you.
We always value authenticity and purpose over superfluous prose. A flowery story about The Historic Davenport that lacks purpose doesn’t meet the needs of our intended audience. You can’t have the why and how without the who, what and when.
Our priorities are to educate our visitors about our city through compelling and purposeful storytelling.
Writing About People
We write visitor-first perspective. Being aware of the impact of your language will help set an expectation of greater Spokane before visitors arrive.
- Don’t reference age or disability unless it’s relevant to what you’re writing.
- Avoid gendered language and use the singular “they.”
- When writing about a person, use their preferred pronouns; if you don’t know those, just use their name.
Grammar and Mechanics
Some people will read every word you write. Others will just scan. Help everyone by grouping related ideas together and using descriptive headers and subheaders.
- Focus your message, and create a hierarchy of information. Lead with the main point or the most important content.
- Use active voice and positive language.
- Use short words and sentences.
- Avoid unnecessary modifiers.
- Use specific examples.
- Avoid vague or “local” language. If you use local terms of language, explain the term.
- Be consistent. Adhere to the copy patterns and style points outlined in this guide.
- Feel free to use contractions.
- Use the serial comma. Otherwise, use common sense.
- Don’t use underline, and don’t use any combination of italic, bold, caps, and underline.