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Voice and tone

Our voice reflects how we view ourselves and how we view our users, what our goals and expectations are, and what makes us unique.

Our brand characteristics

Our brand personality shines in the way we speak to our users online.

Here’s what characterizes our voice at Canada Post:

  • Forward-looking
  • Flexible
  • Goal-oriented
  • Helpful
  • Friendly

Writing on brand

Whether it’s for a product page or for an application, the way we write online should embody the characteristics of our brand.

Below you’ll find how we bring our brand to life through the way we write.

Clear, easy-to-understand language

Principles of online page structure echo this simple instruction. Write short sentences that are free of jargon.
  • We’re developing and delivering solutions that help people connect in a better way.
  • We’re accelerating the progress of business capacity for optimum EBA.

The active voice

Use strong verbs and put the subject first. Use the imperative voice, especially in calls to action (CTAs).
  • We provide a delivery experience you’ll love.
  • Use our delivery service because nothing is better.

Goal-oriented phrasing

Speak with confidence without being aggressive or arrogant. Keep the user’s goals in mind at all times and talk to them directly.
  • We deliver your parcel quickly and safely.
  • Other shipping solutions don’t compare.

Communicate sincerely and honestly

Always consider the perspective of the customer and take an inclusive tone.
  • Let’s make sure your letter is ready to mail.
  • Is your item acceptable for mailing? Did you seal it properly?

A friendly tone that presents itself as a subject matter expert

We’re conversational and relatable but in a way that maintains a sense of responsibility. Use contractions and speak in the first or second person, depending on the context.
  • Ensure you don’t miss important mail.
  • We do not want you to miss your mail! We will do everything we can to make sure you do not.

Point of view

To make our personality approachable and immediate, we use the first and second person in the structure of our sentences. Common pronouns in first and second person copy are: We, us, our, you, your. Doing this helps bring our conversational tone to life. Write it the way you say it!

For example:

Track your package.
We have solutions to help you grow.
Let’s make sure your letter is ready to mail.

My versus your

This question comes up a lot. Is it “Forward my mail” or “Forward your mail”?

Consider this:

Using my implies that the Canada Post website is an extension of the user (i.e., the system or our website is speaking on behalf of the user).

Using your acknowledges that the Canada Post website is a medium between the user and what the user wants to accomplish.

There’s no research out there that has the answer. From a usability perspective, there has been no observed task success (or failure) based on the use of my or your. But confusion can be a risk with inconsistent use.

How we apply it:

  • In scenarios where it’s not adding to a user’s understanding, don’t use a pronoun at all. For example, input fields in forms.
  • When we want to strike a friendlier (conversational) tone, use your. For example, in our navigation labels.
  • If possible, use the user’s name. For example, in our signed-in state.

More about voice and tone

We adopt a more conversational tone online to make for a more personable, helpful and engaging experience. More than that, there are many ways in which we convey our unique personality. These voice and tone style points break it down a little further. Also see our grammar and mechanics section for more on our voice at the word-level.

Active voice versus passive voice

We speak in the active voice to convey a fresh, responsive personality that’s firmly rooted in the present. It also encourages users to take action themselves and engage with our products.

The subject in a sentence performs the action in the active voice, which gives an immediate, direct feel to the language.

  • Alex posts his letter at the mailbox.

Passive voice is the other way around, where an action is done to the subject. We avoid using it because it comes across as distant and less immediate.

In some cases, such as in error messages, this can be useful. A passive tone is less likely to make the user feel they’re to blame.

You’ll notice that this sentence also contains the past tense instead of the present.

  • The letter was posted by Alex.

Positive, goal-oriented phrasing

Our personality is approachable and determined so we use positive language, avoiding the negative. When indicating outcomes, always keep the users’ goals top of mind. Their goals are our goals, so create content that keeps them moving forward in their task and provides them with clear solutions.

  • We provide a delivery experience that online shoppers love.

Calls to action

We use imperative verbs to create a sense of immediacy in our calls to action (CTAs). This encourages them to take the next step.

  • Explore e-commerce solutions.

Writing for our audience

When addressing our audiences, our tone adapts for the appropriate mood or attitude. While our personality is always forward-looking, flexible, goal-oriented, helpful and friendly, we need to speak to users in different ways at different times. Through our writing, we play up different levels of humour, respect, enthusiasm and formality depending on the topic, the medium, and the user’s emotional state.

So who’s our audience? We appeal to the widest possible audience within Canada, a diverse group of people. From individuals Canadians, to small business owners, to executives and managers in charge of corporate accounts, each of these groups has different concerns. We also consider differences in culture and language within these groups.

Our tone doesn’t just tell people what we do. It also shows them what it’s like to work with us.