How's our way with words?

(Harry Ashbridge) #1

Hello! I’m Harry and I’m a writer at Monzo :wave:

We’ve been thinking about our way with words recently. What do you think of it?

Could you do us a favour?

Sum up what you think Monzo’s tone of voice is in three words. (That’s three separate words please, not a three-word phrase like ‘really really great’ or ‘load of rubbish’.)

And then three words for what the tone of voice should be, too — if you think it should be different.

Any other comments are obvs much appreciated as well.

We’ll be using this to help sharpen our writing style, and we’ll report back soon :+1:

Introducing the Monzo Tone of Voice
Community Roundup - 26/1/2018
(Michael) #2

simple friendly technical

I think that’s right, your tone is friendly & simple, but very technical when needed. Announcements etc have the technical information in there, everything is friendly.

Personally, I think the tone of voice you have is perfect for what I see Monzo as from 18 months ago to now.


Relaxed. Friendly. Informal.

I think there is no need to change as you seem to have judged it right.

Only observation is about emojis. One emoji may mean different things to different people so they should be used sparingly, where their message is clear, and never assume the other person will always know what you mean by them.

(Jamie 🏳️‍🌈) #4

I’ll follow up on emoji use. Please don’t substitute entire words for emojis; screenreaders for the visually impaired deal with emojis in a variety of ways, and by leaving out words you may be making things difficult or impossible to understand.

This is especially true for emojis such as “soon” (displayed as the emoji :soon:) where a screenreader may not necessarily read out the word as intended, despite an image of the word being present. Your users who can see the image will be able to understand. Your users relying on a screenreader may not.

In short, please use emojis to enhance your text, not replace it.

As for your original question: Passionate, modern, clear. And you don’t need to change.

(Matt) #5

Plain*, friendly, personal.

(* as in Plain English Campaign, rather than ‘dull’!) :stuck_out_tongue:

(David Yates) #6

Sincere, friendly, clear.

I add sincere as the main word because there are plenty of newer companies that try too hard to befriend their customers and it quickly turns into a mess when they can’t deliver what’s promised. The short blog updates by different areas of Monzo are always direct and no messing us about.


100% on board with this way of thinking.


Friendly, helpful, smug.

I love the Monzo comms and Tristan’s writing style is something that’ll be hard to match, but when others try to use that style it comes across as slightly smug to me. More specifically - customer ops using emoji as if they are being forced to use them in every sentence.

For example “We’ve been granted a banking licence :smile:” is a powerful use of it, but “I’ve reverted the fraudulent transaction for you :smile:” seems like a slightly inappropriate use of this language. We’ve seen other staff right up to the members of the Board writing to the community as if someone gave them a list of all the emojis and told them to go let loose! :kissing:

In summary - too much emoji for me! Use to amplify the words rather than as a form of punctuation.

(Adam Williams) #10

Relaxed, informed, friendly.

Informed is particularly important here. I’m fed up of dealing with clueless/unhelpful CSRs from other large companies who blindly follow a script, don’t actually answer my questions and call me ‘Mr Williams’, as if that somehow makes things better.

I don’t think the tone needs to change. It’s refreshingly different and part of why I like Monzo.



I agree with the above the use of emjois can be a bit much. image

(Allie) #12

A good screen reader should be capable of reading the unicode description of the emoji. Unfortunately, some don’t. More concerningly, I just realised that Discourse’s emoji substitution is really inaccessible - Discourse substitutes unicode emoji with its own pictures. Now, personally, I think that’s bad enough (emoji is not meant to be pictures, but rather a changeable font, but that’s a whole different debate and one I’m losing in many circles). However, Discourse is doing something really nasty… if they’re going to do emoji substitution, the alt text for the substituted image should be the unicode description (so a screen reader can handle it gracefully). Discourse isn’t doing that, instead it’s putting the code you can use to type the emoji, which may not read as well due to the colons.

Fundamentally, though, I agree. But part of the issue here is how Discourse is handling emoji substitution. Proper unicode emoji shouldn’t be an issue to a screen reader that is well designed and knows how to read them. That’s the point of unicode, well, part of it…

As for the original question:

friendly, excellent, efficient

Monzo’s been absolutely perfect in this front.

(Jamie Johnson) #13

Clear, friendly & personal

It’s also modern, for example:

I know a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily like ‘slangy’ terms in lieu of correctly spelt vocabulary. You can still keep the tone without this. If your goal was to have 1 billion young customers, fine, but I imagine it to be less pleasing to a lot of people who didn’t grow up with ‘text speech’ .

I also think emojis are fine but must not substitute the actual message as already mentioned above.

(Josh Price) #14

Simple, friendly, personal.

PS: I agree with what’s been said about emojis though I’d like to see them used even more alongside text (and not a replacement).

(Peter Roberts) #15

Happy, Accepting, Useful

Seems good to me :+1:

Transferwise Appears...oooops
(Eve) #16

Friendly, personal, efficient
I almost always get assistance right away with in app chat and there is such a specific feeling of friendliness that isn’t contrived/ customer service-esque. Obviously they’re providing a service, but you just get the sense you’re friends and we can all skip off into the sunset holding hands. I can’t explain this, but it makes me happy.

I second the others on emoji use- they provide useful markers for tone that normally isn’t conveyed well over text, but people also “read” emojis in different ways. Eg that meme about a grandmother finding out about a death and they replied “RIP LOL :joy:” (lots of love, crying face).


For anyone interested, I said personable, happy and understanding to Harry.

Happy isn’t always applicable which I think where understanding comes in.

(Philip Liddell) #18

Friendly, competent, brisk

(Richard Cook) #19

Guilty as charged :see_no_evil:

I’ve certainly gone overboard on the emojis from time-to-time. So, food for thought… :pizza:


Some emojis are fine such as banknotes with the €,$,£ symbols or a plane. Others have issues, such as the faces, where the often perceived meaning is not the same as the official meaning. Often differences in perception are cultural with emojis instantly recognisable in Japan say instead of UK.

(Louis Otto) #21

What monzo is:
Relaxed, personable, clear

What monzo should be:
Professional (first and foremost), personable, inclusive

The overuse of emojis can be grating at times, but I get that it’s the modern tone. I don’t see even other challenger banks using as many as Monzo. Emoji are fine for chats, but I think in announcements and things like this they should be used sparingly. Being professional doesn’t mean horrid black-and-white corporate everything, it just means demonstrating communication without resorting to lots of smiling faces, confetti and other things.

Being inclusive in this case means communicating to reach the widest audience. Explaining systems, changes and so on in a way that experts and beginners can understand - building paths rather than walls, so to speak.

All just my opinion, of course