In 2011, TalkTalk were in an interesting place. They’d fixed lots of service problems that had caused people to grumble. They were coming out with market-leading products – undercutting their competitors time after time on broadband, TV and phone deals for Britain. They were working hard on their customer service, and starting to deliver a much better experience to their customers. But they still got a bad rap.

And they were no longer the new kid on the block. They’d been holding their own in the market for a few years, and were a maturing business. But, crucially, one that hadn’t lost its spark.

So they knew they needed to do something special. To capture the personality at the heart of TalkTalk, and use this guide people’s behaviour right across the business. They thought they knew just what they needed.

Guidelines please

They asked us to work with them to develop a brand tone of voice, leaving them with a set of guidelines they could use to influence behaviour. We knew that to create the culture and ways of working they were after, we’d need to dig a little deeper.

So we started by backing up. First we ran workshops with key stakeholders to explore what made TalkTalk the place it was, and its unique personality in the market. And when we thought we’d uncovered what lay at the heart of the TalkTalk difference, we put this into words everyone would just get. They loved it.

Out of this we developed a tone of voice and, yes, a set of guidelines. But as we often say, a tone of voice isn’t a document, it’s something people do. So we set about to help key teams change the way they communicated by running six months’ of workshops – for customer service, marketing, HR, internal comms, their agencies and more. And along the way we got writing – ads, brochures, websites, letters, campaign messaging, customer service scripts, and so on. Lots of good stuff, all showcasing the TalkTalk tone of voice.

And now? We’ve passed the baton over to them to keep their tone of voice alive. One thing we know for sure – we certainly got TalkTalk talking, and using the right words too.