Brand Voice

The University of Adelaide is an established brand with a unique voice. Together with our visual style, our voice shapes the way people see us. It's how we talk with our many audiences and how we interact.

Our brand voice is reflective of the tone and style of the institution expressed through our marketing communications. It is not intended to be used or applied for individual staff members. For example, academic writing, speeches made by staff, introductions or forewords.

Our brand voice presents the University as contemporary, relatable and friendly, while remaining true to our historic values and strengths.

Brand personality and voice

  • Ambitious

    We always strive to be better. For the world to be better. We are energised by change, progress and our role in brightening the world around us. We are successful because of who we are today, not simply because of our past. We don’t rest on our laurels.

    We are a leader in SA and a national and international challenger.

    … not aggressive

    We are not pushy or ruthless. We do not dictate or proclaim. We don’t show off our intellectualism or discuss pure research without pointing to the outcomes, benefits and value.

    How we speak

    • Our writing is determined and future-focused. We infuse it with active verbs.
    • We talk about success and performance.
    • We celebrate world-firsts.
    • Our efforts improve our planet so our communications speak with global implication. We use the world as our compass.
    • We are always considerate in our approach.
    • We use bulleted lists and summaries.

    What to avoid

    • We don’t assault our audience with large chunks of information.
    • We avoid using South Australia as our reference point.

    Example

    'Research that brightens the world around us.'

    * Remember to be confident and avoid language that is uncertain:
    • Aims
    • Contributes to
    • May
  • Trusted

    We are trusted with an important role in society, the economy and world. Our history and reputation are important sources of that trust, but that doesn’t mean we need to be conservative. Our voice is contemporary and relevant in the world today.

    … not predictable

    We talk about current, real world impact, rather than historical. We continue building trust through our research impact, community engagement and the quality of our education.

    How we speak

    • We communicate with authenticity and consistency.
    • We use real stories, real people, case studies and testimonials.

    What to avoid

    • We don’t describe new things with old language.
    • We are not repetitive.
    • We don’t cut and copy. If we are re-using information, we re-craft it for our audience.
    • Where appropriate, we use wordplay that is clever and witty, rather than funny.
    • We build our headlines with double meanings and metaphors.
    • We don’t use superlatives just to appear lively.

    Example

    'Our defence research, a force for innovation.'

    * Substantiate claims, check sources and fact check.
  • Curious

    We are curious about the world. We ask the big questions, and welcome the answers.

    … not unfocused

    We are curious for a reason. Our research solves the challenges of our time. Our questioning is focused on solutions for industry, government, the environment, humankind.

    How we speak

    • We always establish the why as well as the how.
    • Our calls to actions motivate our audience to explore as much as we do.
    • We reward their inquisitiveness by presenting complex ideas in a simple and thought-provoking way.
    • Our writing always has purpose.
    • We make our points clearly and succinctly.

    What to avoid

    • We don’t go off on tangents pondering endless questions.
    • We try to say less and mean more.
    • We are not ambiguous.
    • We don’t lead people astray with jargon and complexity.
    • We avoid colloquialisms, exclamations! and ellipses as they dilute the impact of our message.

    Example

    Discover more

    * Avoid generic language in calls to actions: Click here More information

  • Influential

    We talk about the big picture to emphasise our global thinking. We are brave and progressive. Our voice stands for something. We highlight our past, present and future success to evidence our impact and shape the conversation.

    … not self-serving

    We are not in this for us: We are always of service. We want to help others because we care about the community and the world.

    How we speak

    • We choose a direction and go there boldly.
    • Our words have an energy about them to showcase our innovative spirit.
    • We use active language to create an impact. To be influential we must be credible, so we quote our experts to give our communications authority and distinction.
    • We use supportive language that is open and flexible.

    What to avoid

    • We are not generic in our writing.
    • We don’t place blame or exert passive aggression.
    • We are not single-minded and unchanging.

    Example

    Preparing global leaders

    * Use a broader frame of reference

    * Think globally

  • Connected

    We are open, engaged and welcoming. We can do what we do, and forge a brighter world, because of our partnerships with business, government, other education institutions and research organisations. We have a focus on people and embrace a community spirit. Our voice reflects diverse ideas and backgrounds from all over the world. The University of Adelaide indicates our roots, our culture and our home, but we’re not Adelaidean in our tone and spoken language.

    … not dependent

    We are a leader. We are independent and self-directed.

    How we speak

    • Our language is always socially appropriate and culturally sensitive. This is important to communicate our global understanding.
    • We talk in the first person and use ‘us’ and ‘we’ to invite collaboration and cultivate relationships
    • We listen to people and make that clear.
    • What we say and how we act always aligns with our values of knowledge and discovery.

    What to avoid

    • We avoid dependent clauses because all our sentences are complete thoughts.
    • We never miss the opportunity to recognise others.

    Example

    We work closely with the food sector to bridge the gap between innovation and the take-up of new practices.

    * Be specific

    * Name partners

    * Use real examples

    * Identify the benefit

  • Elite

    We are a prestigious, high-performing university.

    … not aloof

    We are approachable and accessible. We’re not stiff or stuffy. We’re not arrogant, pompous or elitist.

    How we speak

    • We lead the conversation, not follow it.
    • We always talk with intelligence and let our reputation speak for itself.
    • We rise above the commentary of other institutions to forge a distinct path.
    • Our writing is as original as we are, but we recognise that for some audiences there is a proven, universal way of speaking about our sector.
    • Our statements are always substantiated by facts ranks and results.

    What to avoid

    • We don’t use flowery words or talk about our achievements for the sake of it
    • Our pride never compromises our writing. We don’t let it become vanity.
    • We don’t craft works of literature; we create content to connect with others.

    Example

    Careers are built on reputation. Change the way you think.

    * Don’t say we’re elite, demonstrate it


Brand tone

Tone is the attitude of your communication. It's not just what you say, but how you say it. Tone changes depending on the four Ts:

  • Target: who are you talking to?

    This is the persona of your audience. It’s based on demographics and psychographics like age, gender, geography, education, attitudes, beliefs, etc.

    To demonstrate, take a look at these examples:

    • South Australian school-leaver market segment: motivational
    • Government: informative and confident
    • Industry: cooperative and candid
    • Higher education sector: inspiring and dynamic
    • International: rational and leading.
  • Topic: what are you talking about?

    This is the subject or theme of your communication. Your tone may be more persuasive, informative, rational or emotive depending on the topic.

  • Takeout: why are you talking about it?

    This is the objective of your communication. All writing has a purpose. Writing should work towards achieving the desired outcome.

  • Touchpoint: where are you talking about it?

    This is the channel of your communication. Your tone in social media will be different to the tone of a publication.


Brand tone examples

Group of Eight

Higher education sector
We are a member of Australia’s prestigious Group of Eight universities.

South Australia general population
We are one of just eight research-intensive universities in Australia.

Top 1%

Within South Australia
We are ranked in the top 1% of universities worldwide.

Outside of South Australia
We are ranked among the most elite universities in the world.

ERA

South Australia
Within our state we reference our performance at world standard or above (for comparison with local competitors).

Australia
At a national level we reference our performance above, or well above, world standard (for comparison with Australia’s leading universities).