Tone of voice

Change your tone to match the context

Speaking with one brand voice

To bring our brand character to life for our customers, we need to consistently use our tone and voice to reinforce our 4 brand traits.


The general character of what you say


The opinion or attitude of how you say it

Choosing the right tone

Imagine our brand traits on a volume slider. Everything we create has a little bit of each of these 4 traits, but we can change their volume according to the context:

  • we are always inclusive
  • in most cases, we lean on being straight talking
  • in specific cases, we can be more optimistic and gutsy



Conversational not chatty

Simple but never dull

Universal not niche

To help customers feel welcome



Engaging not exhausting

Passionate not passive

Hopeful but realistic

To help customers feel motivated

Straight talking

Transparent not frank

Concise not curt

Simple not immature

To help customers feel respected



Bold not reckless

Confident not boastful

Eager but not pushy

To help customers feel inspired

Step 1: Start with the component

Think about the fundamentals of what you’re working with. Where does it live, what is its primary purpose?

Use this tone of voice slider to check where the component sits alongside our brand traits.


Straight talking

Form fields

Destructive actions

Error notifications

Warning notifications


Secondary actions

Tertiary actions

Hyperlinked text

Info notifications

Notification center


Success notifications

Landing pages

Primary actions

Push notifications

App headers



Step 2: Adjust based on the message

Room for personality? Use this slider to decide the traits to dial up, based on the function of the message.


Straight talking

Warning the customer


Taking accountability

Billing and payment



Informing the customer

Guiding the customer

Alerting the customer


Celebrating the customer

Marketing message

Promoting a product


Serious, functional, and apologetic or accountable messages can dial up our straight-talking trait.

Marketing messages and those that celebrate the customer can dial up our optimistic, gutsy traits.

Apologies and accountability

This is the tone we use when it's necessary for OVO to sensitively address a situation.

Unintentional confusion or upset to the customer are 2 common types of scenarios where we would apologise or take accountability for our actions.


Acknowledges the negative emotion caused by OVO.


Acknowledges the behaviour that OVO takes responsibility for.

It's important to remember:

  • the 2 can be linked, but also can exist independently – it’s knowing when they need to combine
  • this type of messaging can have a delicate context, so it’s about making sure we speak with humanity, without being overly emotive and keeping professional


Inaccurate bills

Overcharged on bills

Accidental send of unnecessary urgent or warning message

Industry changes that will negatively impact the customer (COL)

Error pages or notifications

When a site page doesn't load

When a request cannot be completed, including customer error

  • start your sentence with a declarative, clearly outlining the issue or situation to the customer
  • explain why or how the situation occurred, wherever possible - the level of detail will depend on the context
  • use first person pronouns - "we", "us" - this immediately softens the tone and makes it feel more human
  • link to the relevant support contact information, where needed
  • make false promises
  • use comical phrases like “oops”, puns or silly verbiage
  • be overly apologetic and use intensifiers like "so" – this can actually make the communication sound less genuine


You’ve been charged the wrong amount

Hello, {First_Name}.

We overcharged you recently on your last bill. Your monthly payment is £XX, and in June, you were charged £XX.

This was due to a technical error on our end. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this has caused and will refund you the difference.


We want to own up to something…

We understand that you’ve been charged an incorrect amount on your most recent bill. This was because of a technical error and we’re so sorry for any inconvenience caused.