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What do turkeys tell us about tone? And how can pigs in blankets help warm up your words? Your Christmas meal says more about writing than you may imagine.

Jamie, Delia and Nigella. Three top chefs with three very distinct tones of voice. But how do they tackle the most important meal of the year? As ‘brand personalities’, they each bring their own house style to their writing, as much as their food.

Here’s how Jamie does it:

In my books, the perfect bird is 6.5kg– 8kg in weight because that’s a good size to handle… If you’re buying from a small producer, like the lovely turkey I used from my mate Paul Kelly, you’ll often find these birds come with their own cooking instructions…

“This year I’m using a flavoured butter to give a bit of extra love to my turkey…”

Jamie’s laddish charm shines through in a tone that sounds off-the-cuff and casual. But don’t be fooled – these are carefully crafted words that back up brand Jamie.

Delia, as you might imagine, has a very different take:

Cooking a turkey for the first time at Christmas, when in-laws and other guests are probably milling around, can be quite a traumatic experience. I think the secret of success is to give the turkey a good blast of heat to begin with, and once you've got it going… you can then turn the oven down and let the turkey cook through more gently.”

And relax… You’re in safe hands with Delia. She knows you’ll probably have in-laws and other guests milling around. That hosting a big occasion can be traumatic. And she thinks the secret of success is to give your turkey a good blast. Notice how the use of modifiers shows empathy and, paradoxically, increases confidence.

For Nigella, it’s a different story: 

“For me the only turkey is a brined one... You have only to try this method to be utterly convinced...

“At this time of year, it’s fine just to leave it in a cold place. I sit mine by an open window in the kitchen. It means everyone freezes, but who am I going to put first – my turkey or my family?

“Out in the garden if you’re lucky enough to have one would also be fine, though the pan must be securely covered… I cover it twice with foil and then put my son’s skateboard on top to prevent foxy foraging.” 

The tone of voice is chatty, peppered with humour and oozing charm. Nigella shares little insights into her family life that, for some, create a sense of intimacy. While for others it’s more sickening than a double eggnog with a brandy custard chaser. As for ‘foxy foraging’, only Nigella could get away with this.

What does this say about tone of voice?

Firstly, language is incredibly flexible. The same message can be tackled in a huge variety of ways to evoke your brand personality.

Secondly, little details such as the choice of adjective, a friendly aside or a personal anecdote can make a huge difference.

Finally, consistency is crucial. These top chefs' recipes may change, but their voices remain reassuringly familiar.

So, when you dig out your Christmas recipe this year, tone of voice may be the last thing you’re thinking about – but it’s the first thing you’re reading. And, if your sprouts are too squidgy or your turkey’s bone dry, do what every great chef does – blame it on the recipe.

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It’s that time of year again: big resolutions, small chance of success. But this year will be different. We’ve listed 12 resolutions we’ll stick to through thick and thin, in digital and print.

We’ve created a ‘print and keep’ pdf of our resolutions so you can join us in our quest to quash tautologies and eradicate exclamation marks.

Without further ado, here are Ink’s resolutions for 2016:

1) Elephant on a unicycle. Make sure your opening sentence is big, bold, eye-catching and memorable.

2) Only use exclamations marks when there’s really something to shout about!

3) If the headline’s no good, Title Caps Won’t Save It.

4) Tautologies should always be avoided. Saying the same thing twice isn’t smart or clever.

5) To find out why writing ‘click here’ means you’re missing a trick, click here.

6) Two things to remember about colons: they should be used carefully and checked regularly.

7) And you can start a sentence with ‘and’ or ‘but’.

8) Don’t go all ‘Disco Dad’ when writing for young people. It’s totes awks, innit.

9) Research, research, research. Your unfailing cure for, um, er...

10) Double negatives don’t never confuse people.

11) Don’t use overly long words. They simply create semantic discombobulation.

12) Always know when it’s time to stop*.

As with any resolution, it’s important to keep this list top of mind. So print it out, pin it up and review on a regular basis. And of course, if you need any help sticking to these points, you can always get in touch with us.

*If the proposition’s clear, the small print’s redundant.

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A lot can happen in a decade. Since Ink first opened its doors, the terminology and slang we use has evolved in ways we never could have imagined.

From politics to pop, food to friends, words are creatively mashed together to form compounds such as ‘staycation' and ‘photobomb’. A-list celebrity couples become ‘Brangelina’, and superfans earn the nicknames ‘Cumberbitches’ and ‘Beliebers’.

Events and topics aren’t just discussed on social media – they ‘trend’. Emojis are replacing words with smiley, winking faces and strange looking animals. And it seems everyone is getting very emojional about these tiny ideograms. With ‘world emoji day’ – and plans to make an animated emoji movie – it seems like they are here to stay ☹/☺.

See if you understand the following ten phrases. If you can’t – you’re just so 2005:

1. Ignore the trigger warnings, this SJW is an amazeballs vlogger

2. He’s total click bait for the sleb brands

3. The Twitter troll backlash has begun

4. I got stopped by a chugger outside Boots last week

5. Those guys are definitely having a bromance

6. Freecycled jeggings might be on-trend – but don’t look rad on everyone

7. She’s a bit of a humblebragger to be honest

8. My BF hooked up with him on Tinder – they poke each other on Facebook all the time

And if you have just woken up from a 10-year sleep, here are the translations:

1. Ignore the warnings that pop up on your screen about the video blogs created by this Social Justice Warrior – he’s actually rather amazing.

2. This particular actor attracts a lot of interest on websites promoting celebrity endorsed brands.

3. People are now criticising the bullies who use Twitter to say extremely nasty things about people they hate.

4. It felt like I was being ‘mugged’ by a charity person outside Boots who wouldn’t take no for an answer.

5. Those guys hug each other like brothers enjoying a straight romance.

6. A stretchy cross between leggings and jeans offered on a website that gives away free stuff might be fashionable right now, but doesn’t suit all figures.

7. She just wants to appear ostensibly modest and self-depreciating, when actually she’s just trying to show off.

8. My best friend found her new partner on an online dating site app that matches your age and gender. They contact each other on a free social networking website all the time now.

Of course, being a mere ten years old, you can be sure Ink are always up to speed with how people and brands speak, blog, post, share, tweet…

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From texts to tweets: how technology has changed the way we communicate

Let’s jump back to 2005. The world’s best-selling phone didn’t have a camera. Facebook was taking its first few steps outside of US Ivy League colleges. And few people had heard of such a thing as a selfie.

10 years on and we live in a world of smartphones, tablets and instant connectivity. Where people and brands snap photos, make videos, write blogs – and share everything instantly with an online audience of millions.

From new words to new ways of getting the message across, here are just some of the ways technology has changed the way we communicate.

Reaching out

Facebook. Twitter. Whatsapp. Snapchat. Youtube. Vine. Pinterest. The list goes on. With so many new channels of communication available, it’s important for brands to know how to make themselves heard. For instance, customers use these networks to socialise – how can you join in successfully? Few people like to see their social media feeds clogged up with ‘hard sell’ promotions. You have to think differently, and create content that people engage with.

Making conversation

The growth of social media means that brands don’t just talk to customers – customers talk back. This creates a dialogue where companies can respond directly to questions and share interesting content to strengthen their identity.

This means that brands need to be clued up on the platforms their customers are using – and create content that fits. The rewards can be great, but so can the risks. Particularly when it comes to handling complaints, as poorly judged responses can now be viewed and shared many times over.

Short and sweet

Xtrm vrsns of txt spk might be a thing of the past. But many acronyms and abbreviations, including LOL and ‘totes’ still have a place on social media platforms such as Twitter, where brevity is everything.

For brands, the challenge can come from saying what they want to say in a limited space – and still remain true to their tone of voice. Even webpages can feel the squeeze. Now that people browse on the go from mobiles and tablets, web content has to work harder to hold the attention – or risk the criticism ‘TLDR’.

Some things never change

While technology has created new ways to get the message out, the essentials of brand communication remain the same: know your audience – and craft the right messages, in the right tone of voice. From pithy tweets to attention-grabbing web copy, we’re here to help.

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From Apple to John Lewis, the most successful brands are great storytellers. Here are some ways you can take a leaf out of their (best-selling) book.

Since mankind first sat around a fire, stories have had an amazing knack for bringing people together. Whether written, visual or spoken, they help embed facts and trigger emotions. And the neuroscience backs it up.

Not just science fiction

Most businesses are built on left-brain thinking. This means they are generally founded on a logical, rational, fact-based approach. They’re most comfortable writing bullet-pointed lists, data sheets and FAQs. They love a good stat or an infographic.

But, research shows, this kind of information only activates small areas of your brain. It’s when these dry facts are woven into a compelling story that multiple areas are activated – your sensory cortex and cerebellum, motor cortex, visual, auditory and olfactory cortex… Put simply, a good story engages all your senses.

Jennifer Edson Escales, Marketing Researcher at Vanderbilt University, USA, found that a test audience had more positive reactions to advertisements that were told as narratives than those that used facts and arguments.

You needn’t search far to see brands harnessing this power. Just look at Christmas advertising from the past few years and you’ll see narratives that are designed to tug at our heart strings as much as our purse strings.

Telling your brand’s story

Ian Rowden, Chief Marketing Officer of the Virgin Group, once said, “The best brands are built on great stories.” So what do Virgin and the other great brand storytellers have that we can all learn from?

Like most good novels, it comes down to a few, simple ingredients:

Character: you don’t need a famous CEO – a Steve Jobs or Richard Branson – to breathe personality and character into your writing. By defining your brand’s personality and allowing this to come out in your writing, you’ll create a sense of character that can stand alone.

Authenticity: don’t attempt to make your writing quirky and fun if you’re a serious, professional business. Instead, get to the heart of what makes your business tick – the real, human spirit that underpins what you do.

Difference: all too often, brands try to copy other market leaders. We’re often asked to make something sound more ‘Innocent’ or ‘Pret’, but it’s always best to take your own path. Identify what makes your business unique: what makes your story inspiring and original?

Structure: in practical terms, a good story should have a beginning, a middle and an end. But, unlike most narratives, your brand story shouldn’t have an ending as such. It should keep unfolding as you grow or diversify. After all, ‘author’ derives from the latin word augere, meaning to increase. That way, everyone from the finance director to the new graduate can live ‘happily ever after’.