Developing a tone of voice for Royal Voluntary Service

The client

Royal Voluntary Service has a 75-year history of working to enrich the lives of older people. One of the UK’s largest volunteering organisations, its 35,000 volunteers and 2,000 employees help older people stay active and independent for longer.

The challenge

As with many charities, Royal Voluntary Service has had a challenging couple of years, with Government spending cuts following on the heels of a deep UK recession. The charity is now entering a much more positive chapter, and wanted to ensure this was reflected consistently in its internal communications and identity.

The RVS communications team approached us in the summer for advice and support with developing a tone of voice and house style guide. They wanted a document that reflected who they are and that would provide their stakeholders with practical advice and guidance when writing communications.

Royal Voluntary Service

Our approach

Our Communications Specialist Sarah Sheasby, a self-confessed stickler for grammar, has previously developed style guides for Lloyds Banking Group and a number of other companies. She set out a three step approach:

  1. Interactive employee focus groups and interviews with the leadership team to gain insights on current communications and the RVS culture.
  2. Drafting the house style guide, comprising tone of voice as well as handy tips on spelling, grammar and internal communications best practice.
  3. Upskilling sessions for stakeholders to ensure they felt equipped to use the guide to best effect.

The result

During the focus groups, the project took an interesting tangent. Employees had so much on their minds that we agreed to capture this additional (very valuable) feedback as well as input relating to tone of voice. We shared this with the RVS communications team to help inform their communications channels and approach for 2016.

Alongside this, we developed a tone of voice that felt right for Royal Voluntary Service, a tone that is down to earth and human (after all, it’s a practical, ‘sleeves rolled up’ kind of organisation with people at its heart). But also a tone that is confident and respectful – reflecting new-found confidence and pride in the organisation and its journey.

Katherine Owen, Communications Manager , said, “We are delighted with the Style Guide that Sarah produced and the recommendations will now be used to support the development of a communications platform in 2016 for Royal Voluntary Service”.


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