Brand guidelines

Our tone of voice

Whenever we are communicating on behalf of the British Council it should be in the British Council’s tone of voice. This is not an option. It is mandatory.

Our tone of voice gives us a clear steer about how to approach writing, designing or art directing our communications. It also gives us an objective measure to judge things by when discussing ideas, designs and writing with colleagues.

Once the tone of voice is familiar to us it makes it a lot easier to do the writing, because it tells us how to ‘speak’, and indicates style and vocabulary.

Tone of voice only works when it’s expressed consistently, so we need to spend time to understand it, so we can use it effectively and are able to brief others on how to use it.

How we talk about what we do and who we are

We are ‘worldly’
We are informed and entertained about the world, with expertise and experience in how it works. We understand people and respect them. Our insight and open-minded approach form the foundation of everything we say.

We are ‘inspiring’
We believe our knowledge is most valuable when it is shared. We are positive, enthusiastic and always encouraging. We mix unparalleled learning with the excellent and intuitive communication skills needed to make our work available to all. We know we can change lives, so we act with integrity.

We are ‘inclusive’
We’re always aware of our audiences and what they need to know from us. We sound like a person, not an organisation. This means we can explain the complex in a simple, but not simplistic way. We are candid, knowledgeable and engaging. We are always friendly, direct and clear. We use language to open up possibilities, not close boundaries. We help people understand the world a little better than they did before.

We are ‘vivid’
We seek to entertain, enthuse and excite by opening up a world of cultural diversity and possibilities. Our language is never obvious, or formulaic, or standardised. We look for the visionary, the challenging, the surprising or even shocking word, image and phrase. We do this to create a deeper, fresher, more embracing understanding of the world and the work that we do.

We are ‘authoritative’
We speak with the authority of a global cultural relations organisation. We are worldly and informed, fluent in the world’s culture and ideas. Though we are global, we speak person-to-person. Our voice is never passive; our opinions are active and involving. We are bold but never arrogant, understanding but never presumptuous. We do not make statements for effect or to display our cleverness, we speak to bring about change. We value people.

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