Voice guide part 3: Who are you not

Yael Ben-David
2 min readMay 21, 2024

Describe a personality to me. Let me imagine a person who fits your description. Now let me act them out. Let 3 other writers in the room do the same. How similar do you think our performances will be?

Not similar enough.

We are all going to have a slightly different interpretation of what those character traits sound like and so we need a little more guidance from you. You have just described the bull’s eye of the target — you’ve described the ideal voice. But if we miss a little, what might that sound like? What guardrails can you give us to get us back on track?

In the previous post, we set up a voice guide and started filling in the first part, “We are…”. One of our “We are…” traits was “direct”. Now imagine a bunch of writers are writing copy that is direct. Where might they miss a little? Might it come out dry?

“We are not…” should be something you might hit if you miss the bull’s eye of “We are…”

“We are not…” are not opposite of “We are…” Any writer worth their salt who is aiming for “direct” should not write in a way that is “indirect”. If they need your voice guide to know that, they have bigger problems. “We are not…” opposites of “We are…” are not valuable.

“We are not…” should not be opposites of “We are…”

Similarly, there are certain characteristics no product wants to be, like rude, mean, arrogant, rude, vague (ok ok I’m sure there’s an exception out there but go with me on this). Again, this is something a writer shouldn’t need your voice guide for, in order to avoid. Calling these traits out in your “…we are not” is not valuable.

“We are not…” should be something that some product out there would want to be, just not yours.

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