Oliver Payne

Behavioural insight & comms consultant

Get the tone, right?

By admin • Jan 29th, 2009 • Category: Twitter updates

Software coders and copywriters go together like P&G and Hip Hop. (Consumer products giant Procter & Gamble is getting into the hip-hop business by launching a record label with Island Def Jam Music Group. Seriously.)

Has anyone managed to make software more friendly? Made the old ‘404 Error’ sound a teeny bit more warm?


Let’s start with the Forbes email footer. I find the brand a bit breathless and dull all at the same time (which is some achievement), however, they are a trusted money mag and they do have a sprinkle of American ‘Yes, Sir’ in their content. So we could expect a fairly distinctive tone right? No. It’s eye-wateringly dull:

Please click below to review our privacy policy:


Next up Zopa - the marketplace where people lend and borrow money to and from each other, sidestepping the banks. They’re not only a new brand, but a new industry having been founded by in part an ex-egg banker that wanted to do things differently (or have some equity? either way, it’s new). I get emails from them. Here’s what they say:

If you prefer not to receive communication like this from Zopa, no hard feelings. Sign in to your account and choose the types of emails you receive. Just so you know it’s us, your username is ********.

They’re pretty warm - or at least they’re warmer than the icy Forbes magazine. But surely, if there’s room for a little bit of character then there’s room for a lot of character?


Try Wordpress. The great and the good that made the backend of this blog - software dudes through and through. They must be practically uncommunicative right? All cheese slices and Pizza (the only things that slide under a closed door, cos you don’t want to be interrupted when you’re a codin’). No. They rock. They’re as erudite and as cuddly as Stephen Fry… OK, maybe that’s over egging the pudding. But the competition as weak as it is, you can hardly blame me.

Take ‘er easy, dude.

You sure got here in a hurry! Your blog has been registered and we are now tracking your stats but there is nothing to display yet. Your stats will begin to appear here within twenty minutes. Have a sarsparilla.

What the heck is ham doing on my blog? I’m a vegetarian.

Spam most people know as the unwanted commercial comments on their blog, its counterpart we call ham to indicate legitimate comments. On the Akismet mistakes side, missed spam is pretty self-explanatory, but a false positive is what it’s called when we incorrectly identify a legitimate comment as spam. (Which hopefully happens exceedingly rarely.) Also, we’re sorry about the vegetarian thing.

Legal flotsam: I have read and agree to the fascinating terms of service.

It is possible to make software have a tone of voice. I only hope in years to come I can write about who’s got the most appropriate tone for their brand, rather who’s simply got one.

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admin is a digital native who's been taking brands and businesses digital since 1995 (only 5 years after Tim Burners-Lee created the first ever web page). Honing his skills in a variety of companies for the last 14 years, including Ogilvy and Saatchi & Saatchi as a Creative Director, Partner and/or Board Member. He also won some awards.
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3 Responses »

  1. Love it Tone.

    Also check out the data bill of rights on wesabe.com. - best written privacy related content I reckon.

  2. I couldn’t get on it? You can post an example?

  3. https://www.wesabe.com/page/security

    The other thing I like about Wesabe is that you can speak to their CEO. He’s by the phone once a week - I called him last year and had a chat. Very cool.


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