Tone of voice
Use this guide to write Biteable-flavoured copy (tangy yet creamy).
It’s easier to write like us if you think like us.
So let’s go inside the Biteable brain, where our beliefs and values slosh around in brain juice, telling us what to do.
You see, we’re pretty positive. We’ve seen first-hand what effect great storytelling can have on businesses. We’ve built a tool that gives that power to anyone. And we’ve watched people get really excited when using it. We’ve never been more sure that we can make a real difference. And just as importantly, help other people to make their dent on the world.
A balancing act
There are two aspects of our personality that come through in how we write.
You can probably tell that we care about this. We’re dead serious about helping other people to make their mark. So when we write, it’s useful to remember that we’re here to get people real results.
But part of what makes Biteable Biteable is that we do all this in a playful way. After all, the best way to prove that engaging, fun storytelling is effective is by showing it.
The three B’s
So how do we balance these two sides?
The side where we’re helping companies to step things up and the side where we might compare one of our features to a rabbit playing lacrosse? Great question. Read on.
A useful checklist to see if your writing is on-brand.
Be purposeful in intent
|Empower customers||Get them to learn or do something useful||Check it delivers on the comms brief|
|Make them the hero||Focus on what they can do with Biteable||It’s their new tool, not our new feature|
Be playful in style
|Get people smiling||Perk things up with evocative language||Be a bit weird, in a good way|
|Be approachable||Write like you would to a mate||Remove any sticks from your ass|
Be effortless in form
|Relax||Stay in control, don’t appear frantic||Shorter sentences, fewer syllables|
|Make it flow||Never labour a joke or sentence||Edit till it reads easily out loud|
Nothing should be written without a clear Biteable objective (e.g. increase traffic to, and interest in, the blog). You should also be clear how this will help the customer achieve something (e.g. Learn useful marketing tactics).
The Purposeful-Playful tightrope
Of course there are moments that are better suited to being playful. And there are times when being purposeful should be prioritised.
A good rule of thumb is that the closer we are to a customer’s business, the more purposeful we should be. You know — the serious stuff, like them spending money or trying to make a video.
The third ‘Be’ also helps to get the balance right between Purposeful and Playful. It makes sure we don’t overload any sentences. It forces us to decide when playfulness helps or gets in the way.
|Get your video content performing like a well-greased seal. See how long your customers spend watching it and edit until they gobble it all up, including their greens. More explained on the blog.||Get your video content performing like a celebrity seal. See how long your customers spend watching and edit to optimise views. More explained on the blog.|
|The crazy is taking over the message. It’s frantic and a bit confusing.||Less obscure and a lighter touch. The value is clearer and it flows.|
Let’s see the three B’s in action. Here’s an example from the website:
|Copy||Choose a style. We have hundreds of animated, live action or photo scenes in lots of different styles, or just a stylish, pre-made video template created by one of our designers.||Choose a style. Browse hundreds of studio-quality scenes. Combine them yourself or use a pre-made template.|
|Purposeful||Pretty good, but it seems to make us the hero, not them||Emphasis shifted to the user; removed distracting detail|
|Playful||It’s fine not to be playful if it gets in the way of the comms.||Attempts at playfulness got in the way. Also, this is one of several partials on the page and we don’t need a joke in every one.|
|Effortless||Headline is nicely glanceable, but the rest is quite long (users tend to skim-read these kinds of pages)||The words flow nicely. Just enough info for a skim-read.|
Another one from email:
|Copy||No joking, this is one of our most amazing and cutting-edge scene sets ever. Turn your sound up, check out the template video, and try not to dance. We double dare you. Watch it.||Introducing your newest template, GLITCH. Guaranteed to make any message 800 decibles louder. Turn up your volume and hit the button: Watch the video|
|Purposeful||We don’t reference the value to the customer anywhere.||It’s now “your” template, not ours. And we’re talking about the template’s potential impact on the customer’s message.|
|Playful||We sound passionate and fun, but at the expense of value.||We’re riffing off the theme in a fun way, but not overdoing it.|
|Effortless||We’re labouring it a little. The final sentence especially.||The pace is quicker now. Everything is about nudging them towards that button.|
And this one from social media:
|Copy||You’ll be as pleased as a piña colada punch about these new scenes Use this awesome template (if we do say so ourselves) to begin showcasing your products now: http://example.com/||Fresher than a polar bear’s chinos. Delicious new templates to bring your message to life. Let us know what you think: http://example.com|
|Purposeful||It’s very clear why the reader should do this.||Much more direct. Moving the reader towards trial and even feedback.|
|Playful||Nice. We might be dedicating too many of our words to being fun though. And the emoji detracts from the creativity.||Similarly playful, but keeping it lighter and quicker.|
|Effortless||It’s a little wordy. If you read it out loud we’re bordering on appearing a tad frantic.||The pace has been quickened.|
And here’s an ad:
|Copy||Get watermark-free videos. Go premium||Wave goodbye to watermarks. Go premium.|
|Purposeful||Clear as water.||Yes. Making the assumption that existing users know what this means though. Worth testing|
|Playful||Not vital. Space is limited.||Warming things up with evocative language.|
|Effortless||Yep.||Light alliteration makes it roll off the tongue.|
Consider this useful list of words and phrases:
|These words feel like us||These don’t|
|Make your message sing||Follow these steps to achieve real cut-through|
|From muffins to moon landing||From Estate agents to Edtech innovators|
|Get started||Start now, you won’t be sorry|
|It’s easy||You can do it!|
|Welcome aboard||Thanks for joining the Biteable community|
|This template’s fresher than a Polar Bear’s chinos||This template is fresh and cool – perfect for adding some edge to your message|
|Browse hundreds of high-quality scenes||There are hundreds of scenes to choose from, so you’re sure to find something that works for you.|
Did you notice that example about exclamation points? We have to be careful with those. Exclamation points are used to create energy and excitement where words have failed to do so. In fact, they’re used so much that they barely mean anything any more. They make writers lazy.
Here’s a challenge: Use words to express your excitement instead.
Remove nine out of every ten exclamation points you have the urge to use.
|This video is the coolest thing you’ll see today!||This video will melt your brain. Sorry brain.|
|No amount of exclamation points will make the reader believe this is true.||Now we’re making an implicit promise of excitement. No shouting necessary.|
On the subject of emojis
Now, everyone loves a tiny picture of a slice of pizza 🍕, or a suggestive aubergine 🍆. But emojis are more dangerous than they appear.
They’re basically clip-art. And they also display differently across devices and platforms. So we can’t even control the way they look.
In a sense, casual emoji usage goes against everything we stand for, which, remember, is high-quality visual storytelling.
But, emojis are part of written (online) language now. So we can’t pretend they don’t exist. But we can have a point of view on how to use them.
Fortunately, we have a tool to help us decide how to write. Yep, the three B’s can be used for emojis too. Let’s take a look.
Purposeful: Use them lightly
It’s okay to sometimes use emojis in a very natural, light-touch way that doesn’t steal the show. After all, they’re part of our language. But be wary not to distract from the purpose of the writing.
|Distracting emojis||🔥🐉 BOLD new scenes||A bit too dragon-y?|
|Augmenting emojis||🚨New scene release🚨||Playfully boosts the phrase|
|Light-touch emoji||We💚animation||Fleeting and sincere|
Playful: Use them creatively
Which means we don’t just scatter them into a sentence to match words in that sentence. Or use them in ways everyone else uses them. Instead, we try to be creative and surprising with them.
|Weirdly literal emojis||🍹🍉🌴 Our fruity new Summer scenes, video business cards|
|Creative emoji usage||Budget for video: 💰 Budget for office party: 💰💰💰|
Effortless: Use them sparingly
Like exclamation points, emojis can make us lazy with our words. Using them excessively also makes us look like every other brand out there. Use them less often. Use less of them. When you do use them they’ll have more power.
|Lazy exclamation point||This new scene is awesome!|
|Lazy (and crazy) emoji usage||This new scene is 🔥💪😎|
|A bit better||This new scene is 🔥|
|No emoji necessary||This new scene is hot enough to season a burrito.|
Punctuation and grammar
We don’t live by the rules at Biteable. ‘Cept for the following which we obey like a religion.
|Dashes||Hyphens connect words. Em dashes connect sentence parts. En dashes connect everything else.|
|Sentence case||Capitalize only the first word in titles and buttons. The exception is proper nouns.|
|Emphasis||Use Bold or italic for emphasis, but never both, or UPPERCASE, or O_T_H_E_R pLaYfUl =techniques=.|
|Lists||In UI, avoid inline lists — use bulleted or numbered lists instead.|
|US spelling||American English always.|
|Oxford comma||In prose, use a serial comma before the last item in lists.|