Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

Voice

Every time we talk about TRU, we have an opportunity to create a deeper and more meaningful connection between our brand and our audiences.

Whether we are describing a program or service, promoting an event or an award opportunity, or disseminating research, we appeal to our audiences most effectively when we use our distinct brand voice to express TRU’s personality. It's as much how we speak, as what we say.

The TRU personality

If you are consistently purposeful, empowering, collaborative, open and visionary in the language you use to talk about TRU, you will reinforce the TRU personality with all our audiences. Here's how.

Purposeful

Being purposeful means we’re the voice of determination and resolve. We embrace the spirit and tenacity of those who have set their sights on achieving their goals, those who are in the process of realizing their potential.

Our voice can be purposeful as much through rhythm and pacing as word choice. Direct statements, short phrases and sentence fragments speed up the pace. Address your audience in first person, in active, not passive, voice. Punchy language—forceful and succinct—feels purposeful. For example:

At TRU, you’ll find many paths to learning, a hands-on approach and a supportive, inclusive environment. To empower, inspire and transform.Interspersing short lines, like the sentence fragment above, helps add momentum and rhythm.

Apply now for co-op. And apply all you’ve learned.Active voice and addressing the student in first person add impact. And yes, you can start a sentence with “and”.

Know the limit: We’re purposeful, but not overbearing.

Empowering

Being empowering means we’re the voice of confidence. We are a voice that guides, nurtures and celebrates successes—and learning from our mistakes. We recognize the power of diverse backgrounds and perspectives. Cultivate confidence by being supportive and respectful.

Our voice is empowering by being positive. Optimistic. Avoid negative constructions—use "remember" instead of "don't forget"—and choose words that encourage rather than restrict. Consider your content from your audience’s point of view, and focus on the benefits for that audience: what they will receive or achieve, rather than what we provide. You’ll find you’re more direct as a result. For example:

In almost any undergraduate program you pursue at TRU, you have a chance to investigate the questions that move you—questions that could change the world—by conducting research.Offer motivation and inspiration; it will open doors, and minds.

Aboriginal Mentor Program: If you’re a new first- or second-year student, having a mentor can ease your way, whether it’s an extra set of eyes on your paper or a walk in the hills.Being empowering often requires understanding other cultures. To our local First Nations, the word “help” has issues of power and privilege; try “support” or “assist”, or be less direct to "walk alongside".

Know the limit: We’re empowering, but not hand-holding.

Collaborative

Being collaborative means we’re a voice of togetherness. We’re a diverse community exploring many different pathways to fulfilling our potential, but we are united by the common ground of our environment: TRU. We all have equal stake and pride in its success.

Our voice is collaborative when we speak as a collective whole. As human beings, not as a faceless institution. Particularly when your content is directed at students, use first person and vary "TRU" with "we". Avoid "them"—use language that seeks to unite rather than divide. Our purposeful determination and our ability to empower meet where we create community. For example:

Our support network—from advising and counselling to career planning and wellness—is here when you need it.Focus on the services, rather than institutional-sounding departments. A network is collaborative, all of us contributing to student success.

Our average academic class size is just 31 students. Or think of it as 30 new study partners.We're more than numbers. Our collaborative attitude—between students and faculty—makes all the difference.

Know the limit: We’re collaborative, but not without our own ideas.

Open

Being open means we’re the voice of an accepting mind. We embrace new ideas. We see both sides of an issue, big or small. Our perspective is never black and white, but completely comfortable with grays. We are a non-judgmental, supportive voice.

Our voice is open when we’re inclusive, and that includes our language choices. Be empathetic in your content. When you imagine your audience, are you leaving anyone out? (See Style: Inclusive Language.) A voice of openness uses straightforward, plain language. Avoid jargon, and don’t use a big word when a perfectly good four-letter word will do. For example:

Whatever place you’re starting from, you can find your path at TRU.We’re an open access university. To meet students where they are, regardless of background or circumstances, keep “you” in mind.

No Christmas Story here, the modus operandi of mistletoe is straight from a mobster novel. Engage your audience. Remember, knowledge mobilization is often best achieved in plain English. And an occasional creative metaphor can help get your point across, too.

Know the limit: We’re open, but not without boundaries.

Visionary

Being visionary means we're the voice of bold thinking. We’re unafraid of risk, and comfortable considering topics from which others may shy away. We speak in courageous, inspirational tones. We ask the tough questions.

Our voice is visionary when we dream big. We value opportunity, creativity and innovation, which means thinking critically and embracing debate. Showcase out-of-the-box thinking with clear, expressive language. Communicate with passion, not clichés. We’re transformative. Own it. For example:

Impassioned individuals from across our region came together with a shared purpose to bring this institution to life 45 years ago. They envisioned a place of opportunity and bold ideas, connected to community needs—opening doors and opening minds.Blend an optimistic vision of the future with collective confidence in our ability to create positive change.

Push boundaries. Ask questions. That’s what research is all about. Get a $4,500 award to pursue your research question. Learn one-on-one from faculty. Tackle real-world problems. The answers you find could be life-changing.Speak directly to your audience with straightforward language and short lines.

Know the limit: We’re visionary, but not impractical.

Connect with our audiences

By using our unique, consistent voice, our current and prospective students, parents, high school guidance counsellors, alumni, donors, community members, government stakeholders, fellow colleagues and other audiences will get to know TRU and connect with our brand.

Now, how do we use our brand voice for all these different audiences in varying situations (from formal to informal, for example)? That’s tone.