In this guide, we’ll cover how to write something for one of TEG’s brands.
When you’re ready, dive in.
When writing as CX, strive to be clear, and strive for an open, bold, direct tone of voice.
Favour short words, short sentences, and short paragraphs.
Avoid jargon and marketing clichés.
Use your judgement and adapt your message according to context.
Read your message aloud. Is that how you’d talk to a friend?
Is it how a shipper would speak to a colleague when asking them to pass the biscuits?
If not, poke around with this guide and edit accordingly.
TEG’s public-facing brands include Transport Exchange Group (TEG), Haulage Exchange (HX) and Courier Exchange (CX).
All brands communicate with similar – and often the same – people.
The advice in this guide therefore applies to all brands.
Why tone matters
Let’s talk soon! 😊
Let’s talk soon.
Consider the two sentences in the example above. They both use the same three words.
On receiving the first, you might infer you’re in for a friendly catch up. By contrast, on receiving the second, you might infer you’re in for a job search.
The example shows that there are two parts to every written communication:
The content. And how the content is perceived.
- How your content is perceived
- How it makes people feel
- And how it makes people feel about the brand behind the message
That’s precisely why, when writing for CX, the tone of your message matters.
Our tone of voice
Clear, open, bold and direct.
Broadly speaking, messages from a TEG brand – including CX – should be clear, open, bold and direct.
We’ve settled on clear, open, bold and direct communications because:
- We believe it will make life easier for our audience
- We believe it will improve how people feel about CX
- We believe it will make our brands more distinct and our advertising more effective
We know, for example, our audience have better things to do than read our messages. We know English is a second language for many of our members. So we want to make our messages clear and easy to read.
Meanwhile, CX is a community. Our community is helpful, welcoming and open. The CX tone should reflect as much.
Of course, as a tech company, we’re constantly pushing boundaries. Meanwhile, many of our members are seeking progress. Both our company and our members are bold, and our tone should reflect as much.
Many brands adopt corporate tones. Such tones can be confusing and alienating. By contrast, CX takes a far more direct, colloquial approach. Less braggarts showing off. More mates helping out.
How to be clear
Being clear aids comprehension, and therefore makes it more likely you’ll get your message across. Here’s how to be clear.
1: Forget school
If you paid much attention in school, you’re probably poorly poised to write for CX.
That’s because, in school, ‘clever’ writing is lauded. And clever writing usually makes messages hard to understand.
To make your writing easy to read, you might need to discard some of your old English teacher’s guidance.
We’ll discuss some specific examples shortly.
2: Favour short words, sentences and paragraphs
Here’s your first tip that runs counter to your English-class advice.
When writing as CX, avoid long words. Instead, use short alternatives.
Remember, you’re trying to make your writing easy to read. And it’s easier to read the word ‘old’ than ‘venerable’.
It’s easier to read the word ‘use’ than ‘leverage’.
Similarly, short sentences are easier to take in than longer equivalents. Compare these examples:
CX is designed as a courier’s dream tool because when you join you get everything you need to run your courier business, including the ability to access more than 13,000 loads a day and the ability to post loads so our fleet of 50,000 nationwide drivers can carry your cargo when your vans are full.
CX is designed as a courier’s dream tool.
When you join, you get everything you need to run your courier business.
Like the ability to access more than 13,000 loads a day. And the ability to post loads.
Post loads and our fleet of 50,000 nationwide drivers can carry your cargo when your vans are full.
Short sentences and paragraphs make written messages easy to read
Short, sharp sentences allow readers to pause, register a thought, and continue.
Where possible, keep paragraphs short, too:
Eye-tracking studies show people don’t read brand comms from top to bottom, left to right. Instead, people ‘skim’ our messages as a whole, looking for entry points, and focusing on the areas of most interest.
Shorter paragraphs stand more chance of being taken in by skimmers. What’s more, they offer readers far more ‘entry points’ into your message.
So disappoint your English teacher. Break up your paragraphs.
Pro tip: Paste your message into Hemingway to check its ‘reading grade’. The grade is a proxy for reading ease: the lower the grade, the easier to read your message will be.
3: Use subheads
As outlined above, people rarely read brand communications from top to bottom, left to right.
Instead, they ‘skim’ brand messages. They’re searching for the gist given their limited time budgets.
Subheads help convey your message quickly. What’s more, they help people skip to the areas that interest them most.
Direct your readers. Signpost with subheads.
4: Start sentences with conjunctions
Conjunctions are words that join thoughts. ‘And’ is a good example. So is ‘but’. So is ‘so’.
“But starting sentences with conjunctions is grammatically incorrect!” you might counter.
There’s some truth in that. Still, when writing brand comms, beginning sentences with conjunctions is often a smart move.
That’s because a full stop gives readers an excuse to stop reading. Shoving a conjunction just after screams “but don’t stop reading! There’s more! Keep going!”.
As an owner-driver, you want to quote competitively. Working out what ‘competitive’ is, however, isn’t easy.
As an owner-driver, you want to quote competitively. But you never really know what ‘competitive’ is.
5: Avoid jargon
Jargon refers to words (or phrases) used by a specific group that outsiders might not understand.
‘3PLs’ is a good example. ‘Accounts payable’ is another.
It makes sense to avoid jargon because, by definition, it’s likely at least some of your readers won’t understand the jargon.
Do you reckon they’ll look the jargon up?
Or do you reckon they’ll simply stop reading in favour of Instagram?
To make your writing easier to read, search for and substitute any jargon you’ve used.
CX is ideal for both forwarders and 3PLs.
CX is ideal for both forwarders and logistics companies.
Pro tip: Occasionally, you may wish to use jargon to flatter your audience. If that’s the case, go for it. Just make sure your message can be understood regardless.
6: Favour the active voice
In active sentences, the sentence subject is doing – or has done – something.
The cat sat on the mat.
That’s active. Because the sentence subject (the cat) did something. It’s easy to visualise the cat sitting on the mat.
The passive equivalent?
The mat was sat on [by the cat].
Here, the sentence subject – the mat – is immobile. It’s passive. It’s not doing anything. It’s having things done to it.
Passive sentences are hard to visualise – and hard to follow.
The van is being loaded.
The grass is being eaten by cows.
The presentation was delivered by Lyall.
They’re loading the van.
The cows are grazing.
Lyall delivered the presentation.
Where possible, substitute active sentences with their passive equivalents.
To spot passive sentences…
- First, check if the sentence contains the word ‘by’. If it does, there’s a good chance it’s passive.
- If it doesn’t, check if you could append ‘by monkeys’ to the sentence. If you can, it’s probably passive.
Pro tip: Paste your message into Hemingway. The app isn’t foolproof. But it’ll highlight most passive sentences for you.
7: Ditch clichés
Clichés are overused phrases. Your readers are used to seeing them. They’re therefore benign: as a general rule, as people, were wired to pay attention to the novel.
Unfortunately, brand communications are full of clichés. So, when writing as CX sense check your message. Ask if you’d say it to someone you know.
Ditch the marketing-speak, and ditch the clichés. It’s a simple way to keep your readers with you.
The product you’ve always wanted – Product x – is finally here!
To celebrate its launch, we’re giving you the chance to win big and unlock exclusive rewards!
Good news: We’ve just released our latest product.
Yep. [Product x] is finally here.
And it wouldn’t be a product launch without a giveaway, would it?
So here’s the deal.
8: Read it aloud
The Nielsen Norman Group is a world-leading authority on brand communications… and it’s research proves readers prefer ‘conversational’ messages.
One of the simplest ways to work out if you’re writing conversationally is to read your stuff aloud.
When reading aloud, you’ll spot sticking points. You’ll also spot the unnatural.
In doing so, you’ll see what you should change.
So read your message aloud. Then edit your work accordingly.
9: Use ‘you’ rather than ‘we’
When writing brand comms, you want to hold your reader’s attention.
One way to do that is to write about your reader – which means you’ll use the word ‘you’ (or variants) far more than ‘we’. Here’s an example:
We’re Spotless Cleaners, a locally based cleaning company. We’re one of the last few cleaning companies that’s family run.
Not only are we family run, but we’re also very small. There are just nine people who work here. Which we think makes us trustworthy.
We’re also very thorough. When we clean our customer’s homes, we do a great job. We know because our customers tell us.
If you ever need a cleaner, we’re here for you.
You probably enjoy a clean and tidy home. And yet, is cleaning really the first thing you want to do when you walk through the door?
If you’re Marie Kondo, maybe. For everyone else, when you walk in after a long day, you deserve a rest.
That’s what we think at Spotless Cleaners, anyway. And we can make sure you get your rest in a professionally cleaned home.
The first message above, full of ‘we’ language, is all about the brand. By contrast, the second is all about the reader. The reader gets to see themselves in the story. That’s ‘engaging’.
It’s a neat trick. Focus on what your reader gets, and not what CX gives. Use ‘you’. Not ‘we’.
10: Break the rules!
The ten clarity tips above are considered best practice. But no-one can make the judgement calls you need to make when writing.
If you feel you need to ignore any of the above tips, proceed. Just do so knowingly.
How to be open
CX is an inclusive, supportive community, and that should come across through an ‘open’ tone of voice. Here’s how it’s done.
1. Favour simple language
Complex language can be a barrier. It’s anti-open.
So, whenever you feel you need to say something complex, break it down.
If you must say something complex, offer an immediate explanation.
Trustd elevates platform compliance standards.
Trustd makes our platform even more secure.
2. Add colloquialisms
Open people are approachable and welcoming. They’re levelling. If that’s what you want to convey, then consider cutting corporate-speak in favour of colloquialisms.
Colloquialisms show a human element. They’re a mark of inclusivity.
CX doesn’t take a percentage fee per load delivered.
With CX, no-one takes a cut of your earnings.
3. Use discourse
You typically find discourse in speech. Used sparingly, it can remove pretence and make your comms more open.
Discourse is a bit like, well, it’s like the initial ‘well’ in this very sentence.
Discourse shows your human side. It shows you’re not a polished and faceless front.
It’s welcoming. It’s open.
4. Ask questions
Teachers ask questions.
They do, don’t they?
And, because questions necessitate answers, they’re inclusionary.
They invite readers into communications.
Questions convey openness.
5. Offer asides
You’ll usually find asides in brackets.
Asides might seem unnecessary. But they usually serve a purpose outside of the message content (like clarifying points to help everyone keep up).
Consider adding asides to copy that you’d like to come across as open.
You may even find they let you add humour.
6. Suggest, don’t command
Authoritarians command their audience. That’s not what we’re aiming for when we wish to sound open.
Instead, we’re hoping to inspire. We’re hoping to give people the information they need to make their own decisions.
If we’re attempting to convey openness, it’s probably best to avoid commands.
Make suggestions rather than commands. Then let your readers decide.
Compliments can be well received. Equally, they can seem hollow.
The clear differentiator is offering compliments you actually mean.
Let’s say we’re talking to an owner-driver who’s yet to join. They’re getting by without us. That’s commendable – and we can point it out.
Clearly, you’re doing just fine without CX. That’s great.
What many people find is CX can remove the cap on their income. It can help you reach the next level.
And given how well you’re already doing, imagine how far you could go armed with CX.
How to be bold
Our company is bold. And so are our members. So it makes sense, in certain contexts, to adopt a bold tone. Here’s how.
1. Avoid contractions
Contractions are amalgamations of more than one word. ‘Can’t’, ‘I’m’ and ‘we’ll’ are all examples.
Contractions are informal… which is usually a good thing. But not when you’d like to sound bold.
We will prevail.
Consider the example above.
Shunning the contraction adds weight.
Let’s continue the example used in point 1 above.
The absence of a contraction places emphasis on the word ‘will’. Still, we can use italics to emphasise even further.
We will prevail.
We will prevail.
The emphasis adds gravitas. It makes us sound bold.
3. Build sentence length
You’ll recognise this in bold monologues.
Sentences begin briefly. Then, things change.
Writers begin to draw sentences out. They introduce examples, or lists, elongating things. Eventually, sentences become so long and drawn out you can almost hear the crowds roaring their approval, as the sentences build to a crescendo then come crashing back to earth.
Start small, then build. It’s a good way to sound bold.
4. Use adjectives
Often, you’ll want to strip adjectives from sentences to boost reading ease.
When you wish to sound bold, however, you may need to paint a picture. Adjectives give your picture colour.
‘Cast-iron guarantees’ can hold more weight than ‘guarantees’ alone.
‘Excruciating decisions’ convey more information than ‘decisions’.
Take care, and don’t push things.
But, to sound bold, employ adjectives where appropriate.
5. Cut exclamations
Exclamations often convey excitement. Which explains why copywriters use them so much – we’re often trying to inject enthusiasm into otherwise unexciting sentences. We’re desperate. We’re afraid – and our exclamations reveal as much.
By all means use exclamations. Just know that they’re rarely the preserve of the bold.
We’re building a platform to serve our industry long into the future!
We’re building a platform to serve our industry long into the future.
6. Avoid emojis
Emojis are cute. We typically enlist them to make our communications playful.
Bold messages, however, are rarely playful. To sound bold, ditch the emojis.
We’re building a platform to serve our industry long into the future! 🚀💪
We’re building a platform to serve our industry long into the future.
To sound bold, there’s no need to exaggerate.
Simply offer up solid facts – then leave your audience to respond as they wish.
Understate. You’ll come across as self-assured. You’ll come across as bold.
PPM is a revolutionary new product of unprecedented value that changes the game for owner-drivers everywhere!
With PPM, you can see average prices-per-mile for a journey. Which means you can make better decisions.
Owner drivers with PPM get 69% more work.
How to be direct
To reflect our audience, most CX messages should be direct. Here’s how to make your message more direct:
1. Remove adverbs
Direct messages are free from wastage. So, to craft direct messages, prune your work. Remove adverbs (words like ‘extremely’ and ‘quickly’).
Adverbs modify verbs when, usually, a better verb exists.
Mike ran quickly.
Shlomo said forcefully.
2. Avoid conjunctions mid-sentence
Conjunctions are words that link sentences – words like ‘and’ and ‘but’. If you’re using them mid-sentence, you can probably stop. Instead, split your conjoined sentences into two.
Your messages will become easier to read. They’ll also sound more direct.
With CX, you can make money driving as a courier and outsource loads to subcontractors when you’re busy.
With CX, you can make money driving as a courier. And you can outsource loads to subcontractors when you’re busy.
Are you using multiple words when one will do?
Then condense, and be ruthless. In direct copy, each word must earn its place.
In order to.
4. Get to the point
Check your message’s intro. Does it really need to be there?
Often, writers writing brand communications hesitate. They have something to say… but they’re reluctant to say it. So they take a run up. Don’t.
Get to the point. Be direct.
Abbreviations demonstrate we’re not taking our time. We have something to say – and we’re going to say it fast.
So use them. They can make your message more direct.
Check the introduction.
Check the intro.
6. Choose your words carefully
Often, supposed synonyms have subtle differences. Take the following example:
The new line.
The revamped line.
The former suggests something novel. The latter, however, shows we’ve changed something old, rather than created something from scratch.
To make your message direct, employ words that carry more meaning.
Your word count won’t change. Your message’s clarity will.
Tone aside, when writing for and as CX, you’ll can often use multiple terms to refer to the same thing.
To avoid confusing our audience, we try to keep the terms we use consistent in all our brand communications. Here’s what we currently use.
We refer to our industry as…
The transport industry.
Our industry transports…
We refer to multiple loads as…
We call companies that need people to move freight…
But shippers who use Courier Exchange are…
We call our customers…
Members who get paid for moving loads are…
- Drivers (when they drive loads from A to B)
- Carriers (when they arrange a driver to transport loads from A to B)
NB: Carriers and drivers are not mutually exclusive.
Drivers and carriers submit…
When a quote is accepted it’s a…
NB: Our communications use the term ‘job’ in the sense of a task rather than employment.
Our company is called…
Transport Exchange Group.
Which can be referred to as…
TEG’s public brands include…
Courier Exchange, Haulage Exchange, Integra and Transport Exchange Group.
Haulage Exchange and Courier Exchange can be referred to as:
HX and CX.
CX and HX are a part of…
Our platform also includes…
SmartPay and PPM.
Files & templates
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This guide is constantly evolving.
If you have a question, suggestion or observation on its advice, please email email@example.com. We’ll answer, then update the guide accordingly.