At the City of Toledo, we see the best in our
colleagues and residents. People come first. We recognize the human
story in every government decision, without losing sight of the bigger
picture. We’re mindful stewards of time and resources and follow through
on our promises. Nearly two centuries before have brought us here, but
it’s our modern outlook that pushes us forward.
Mutual Respect and Trust
We see the best in our colleagues and our residents.
We work collaboratively to strengthen our weaknesses.
We’re mindful stewards of time and resources who keep promises.
We implement sustainable strategies and track our success.
Diversity and Inclusion
We recognize and celebrate variety in identities, backgrounds and perspectives.
We advocate for equality across all disciplines, for all people, in all parts of Toledo.
We focus on serving our residents efficiently, effectively and comprehensively.
We strive to connect with people and see the human story in every government decision.
We put people first and work hard until needs are met and issues are resolved.
We think creatively on how to best serve Toleodoans.
If the City of Toledo were a person, how would they be described? This helps inform the brand voice and impact.
Driven to do what’s right
Willing to go the distance
Proud of the process
Clear expectations for self and others
Confident in the future
Working towards a better Toledo
How do we get to yes? mentality
Welcoming and friendly
Supportive of all people
Advocates for opportunity
Committed to finding solutions
Every brand has a voice — a consistent style for written,
verbal and visual communication. Much like a person’s voice, a
consistent brand voice becomes recognizable and can be easily
distinguished amongst a crowd.
When producing communication for the City, aim to maintain these four brand voice attributes:
Write like a living, breathing person, not a department or government entity.
The Midwest is known for being nice. Let’s not disappoint.
Transparency builds trust, so say it like it is. Don’t hide behind words.
Yes we’re friendly, but we also get the job done.
How to Use the Voice
A brand voice isn’t about using certain words or a templated
writing style. It’s about authentically presenting the City in a way
that’s consistent with who the City is and how the City strives to be
understood. In order to do this, use the four attributes: human,
friendly, honest, and responsible as a litmus test for brand
Instead of simply writing “The City of Toledo is honest and
responsible with bids,” a stronger brand voice shows how the City lives
out these attributes. Try “The City of Toledo provides weekly updates,
available online or in print, on any open or in-progress bid for
government-contracted bid projects.”
In addition, rely on a toolkit of related keywords to identify more examples of brand attributes in action.
Examples of Writing in the Voice
Write like this: Our administration
puts people first. Whether you’re seeking quality services, progressive
policies, or the right economic foundation to launch your business, we
are here to serve.
Not like this: My administration is
focused on service for our citizens, progressive policies for our
community and economic development as a foundation for our great City. —
Excerpt from toledo.oh.gov
Why? Add more human elements. Using
“we before me” creates a sense of community right from the start.
Breaking the content into two sentences produces a more conversational
Write like this: We maintain and
operate many of the City’s public outdoor resources. Athletic fields and
facilities, city pools, the ice rink and shelter house rentals all fall
under our care.
Not like this: Maintenance of more
than 50 athletic fields and facilities, which include baseball and
softball diamonds and tennis courts. Maintenance and operation of city
pools and the Ottawa Park Ice Rink as well as shelter house rentals. —
Excerpt from toledo.oh.gov
Why? Add more friendly elements.
While the bullet-like writing style is quick to read, it can come across
as cold and hurried. Balance being approachable with being brief.
Write like this: The Office of
Diversity and Inclusion informs and educates the public on the City’s
Affirmative Action Plan: a policy that enforces equal hiring
Not like this: The Office of
Diversity and Inclusion also ensures the promulgation and dissemination
of the City’s Affirmative Action Plan. — Excerpt from toledo.oh.gov
Why? Add more honesty. While this
statement isn’t being dishonest, its use of jargon creates a barrier to
communication and understanding. Increase transparency by writing at a
common reading level.
What is tone?
If message is what we say and voice is how we say it, then tone
is how our voice shifts based on context. While there aren’t any hard
and fast rules for tone, keep the following in mind:
Consider the audience and the platform, then write in a way that best serves the purpose.
Generally lean toward being more informal than formal, while still being professional.
Depending on the content, the tone may be heavier on one
part of the voice but should always have evidence of at least one
Examples of Changing Tone
An email about City programs going to:
Prospective commercial developers = persuasive tone
Senior residents = educational tone
Information on attending a meeting for:
An internal department = insider’s tone with familiar jargon
The general public = welcoming tone
Property tax instructions written for:
First-time home owners = supportive tone
Established home owners = directive and to-the-point tone
Presentation on recycling practices geared towards:
Elementary youth = educational and inspirational tone
Corporation leadership team = collaborative and directive tone
Permit applications = professional tone
Social media posts = playful tone
State of the City speech = hopeful tone
Water safety mailing = reassuring tone
Asking for support or partnership = warm and earnest tone
Consolidating after a tragedy or natural disaster = empathetic tone
Reprimanding a negative action = directive and authoritative tone
Giving directions = to-the point and helpful tone
For official communications, the City of Toledo follows the
Associated Press (AP) writing style. AP Style outlines widely-accepted
standards for formatting written content. Detailed information on AP
standards can be found at apstylebook.com.
Here are a few high-level guidelines to get started.
Use figures for dates and years
Do not add -st, ‑nd, ‑rd or ‑th to the figures
Skip the comma if a year and month are given
Add the comma if a date, month and year are given
Abbreviate the following months if used with a date: Jan., Feb., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov. and Dec. Spell out all other months.
Use a.m. or p.m.
Use a colon to separate minutes from the hour
If the date is on the hour, remove :00
Use Noon and Midnight
Write numbered addresses as figures
Abbreviate Ave., Blvd. and St. when used with a numbered address
Capitalize and spell out all other road types (Drive, Alley, Road, etc.) in all other occasions
Abbreviate directions like E. and W. when used with a numbered address
If a street name is a number less than 10, spell out the
full number (ie. Fourth, Sixth). If it’s more than 10, use figures (ie.
Capitalize the first word
Capitalize all proper nouns
Do not use shorthands like “&” or “+”
Always write the full word “and”
The only exception is if the ampersand is part of a company or organization’s formal name.
Use a single space after a period
Commas and periods should be within the quotation marks
If you're not sure on something or need additional materials, please contact the City of Toledo Information & Communication Technology (ICT) Department.