University Marketing and Communications
Voice, Tone, and Writing Style
Characterizations of our brand
When we speak or write about Fresno State, what we say matters — but how we say it is equally important.
Our Voice and Tone
We have endless opportunities to demonstrate our brand character, both in narrative and visually. But in expressing that character, must you always use the same words? Not necessarily, as our brand can have any number of characterizations, for example:
This list could be long, and thankfully, copy expression always depends upon what is most appropriate given the communication and its context — the product, the objective, the target, the tenor and the dimensions of that specific message.
In general, the tone of Fresno State communications should be clear, engaging and authentic. If we are too formal, too institutional, we lose our audience. Yes, we want our audience to be informed, but we also want them to be inspired.
The tone used in communications should adjust based on your audience. Everything you write should have the reader in mind. A quick test to see if you’re on the right track is to ask yourself, “Does what I’m writing compel people to want to read on?” Use the contagious spirit surrounding Fresno State to fuel excitement and cultivate support, while also being smart in your copy.
Avoid jargon-heavy language that makes Fresno State sound too institutional and authoritative. Jargon can alienate readers — instead, use language you would say in everyday conversation, while still maintaining a quick and inspiring wit. Here are some examples:
Somewhere along the way, while pages fell off the calendar and hopes began anew, the little university that could became the major university that will. A blossoming community at the heart of the Central Valley grew in aspiration as quickly as it grew in size. And it didn’t take long for that university and that community to come together as one — producing an educated workforce to drive the economy while unifying residents behind the excitement of Fresno State.
The Red Wave was born.
What does being the first mean? For nearly 70% of our students, it’s being first in their families to go to college. It’s being the first to defy the odds stacked against them and being the first to exceed all expectations. It’s being first to walk across the stage at graduation as trailblazers, paving the path for a new generation.
So it’s fitting that Fresno State is the first in the nation to receive four American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) awards. To us, these awards are more than a number of trophies — they signify our commitment to putting students first.
Fresno State improved its rankings among the best national colleges and universities, rising to No. 26 in Washington Monthly’s 2023 annual list of top universities, compared to No. 36 the previous year.
The university also ranked No. 13 in the Best Bang for the Buck: West category, improving from No. 22 last year, for how well it helps non-wealthy students attain marketable degrees at affordable prices. About 65% of Fresno State students are the first in their families to attend college.
For your reference, check out the Editorial Style Guide for consistent treatment of information and language about the university.
This guide is for writing for the university’s external audience, excluding media. Contact University Marketing and Communications for press release guidance and media-focused writing. For your reference, below is an example from a news story.