editorial

Tone

While the Herman Miller voice should be consistent, our tone can and will change based on who we're talking to (audiences) and where the conversation is taking place (platforms). Consider the reader's frame of mind, and why or how they arrived to the conversation (context).


Audiences

Our tone should meet people where they are. Audiences can be vastly different based on the platform they’re using—even if they’re the same individual. We speak to a wide variety of people including, but not limited to: consumers, contract, A&D, facilities managers, decision makers, and end users.


Platforms

Our tone is determined by where we've met our audience. We speak to people on social media, through our digital channels (like our website and via email), as part of research, through product copy, and in our online storytelling, like WHY magazine.

When we speak to our social audiences, we're providing value through education, inspiration, and compassion. The tone of the assets and the copy, as well as the overall narrative, should work to capture “Folk Modern.” At every level, Herman Miller’s social media should only contribute, not distract, from the humanity of social media.

  • Facebook: On Facebook, our aim is to be approachable and accessible with special attention paid to people’s emotions. People talk to each other, which is why we should talk to people as though they’re friends, not followers. Herman Miller was a person. As we write for Facebook, we should never forget it.
  • Instagram: On Instagram, our voice should be punchy and crackling. Instagram is primarily a brand vehicle, not marketing, and should be the most essentially charming and informative version of our brand voice. With that said, know the goal is to write copy that supports the visuals. Write well and write to the picture. 
  • Twitter: Twitter is our main platform for customer service and engagement. Twitter is also our biggest social platform for conversation and quick bits of news. By way of tone, we should be friendly, conversational, and respectful. We should be helpful and ultimately neutral.
  • LinkedIn: On LinkedIn, we’re addressing a business audience, and this is the place where we take a B-to-C approach to a B-to-B crowd. We do that by telling short accessible stories of Herman Miller and its products and values. LinkedIn is a great place to share statistics, numbers, and accolades. Tonally, we should be a bit more formal, and more discursive.
  • Pinterest: Because Pinterest is so popular with designers and fans of Herman Miller, our job is to show them amazing stuff while also letting them know exactly what it is, who makes it, and if possible, where they can get it. Remain cognizant of sticky and findable keywords—ah the power of “Eames” and “modern”—as you write.


Context

Our tone should adjust to match the situation. This is really about empathy—putting ourselves in our audience’s shoes and thinking about how they may be feeling in a particular situation.

Herman Miller puts on jeans and a t-shirt when talking to consumers, a suit and tie when speaking to C-Suiters, and a pocket protector comes in handy when speaking with facility managers.

One way to think about tone is to consider these dyads. Depending on the communication, the Herman Miller voice can be plotted along an axis of Authoritative to Friendly, Industry to Consumer. The key on any writing assignment is to find the right balance across these dyads for your specific audience and purpose.

How much should the tone be authoritative, making it clear that we speak from a position of knowledge and insight, versus adopting a friendly, approachable style?