Brand guidelines for a new kind of university

Tone of voice

Our verbal identity is a crucial part of who we are and how we connect with people. By writing in a way that is true to our brand we can express what it is that makes the University of Suffolk unique.


As a new university we need to be consistent in the way that we communicate who we are. The more consistent we are, the more likely it is that people will understand what makes us special.

This section will outline how to express our brand in writing. The guide considers our tone of voice across print and digital applications as well as our name and how we refer to ourselves.

Our tone of voice

Our tone of voice is the way in which our brand is expressed. It defines the attitude of a writer towards the subject and the reader and can be seen in the way in which we write, what we say and how we say it.

Our voice is informed by our principles, achievements and future goals and shaped by our personality. We are a contemporary university with a compelling personality that gives us the confidence to look to the future with ambition.

Basic principles

Principles form the foundation of our brand voice. They inform what we say and come through in the language we use and the messages that we communicate. The following principles should guide all of our communications and be dialled up and down to suit the message and the audience.


We have a unique history and a bright future. We are focused, determined and committed to our future goals. So let’s be proud of our heritage and celebrate our successes – individually and collectively. If we are confident in ourselves we will inspire confidence in others.

“Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can”
Matthew Arnold
Be proud

Talk with pride and conviction about our attributes, history and achievements to show that we care about our role within the community and how we can change lives.

Showcase our achievements

Celebrate our success and be clear why it’s impressive, why it’s useful and how it will make a difference.

Be concise

Be confident enough to get straight to the point. Cut out excess and avoid artificially lofty language.


Have an opinion in areas in which we have a proven track record and share new ideas with conviction to show that we are leaders in our chosen fields.


To be credible is to be recognised and understood. By avoiding jargon and complex terminology we stand a much better chance of getting our message across. If we are clear in our language and concise in our explanations, we will appear a more credible institution.

“Writing is 1 percent inspiration, and 99 percent elimination”
Louise Brooks

Use straightforward vocabulary and simple explanation to communicate your message and connect with audiences from all over the world.


The most valuable of talents is that of never using two words when one will do. Add meaning through reductionism and everyone shall profit.


Avoid complicating your writing with several different ideas. Remove distraction and communicate one idea at a time.


Good writing is accessible to all its audiences. Demonstrate competence and craft by avoiding technical or jargon-laden language.


Putting people first means writing with our audience in mind and adjusting our tone and language to suit them. We offer a genuinely supportive environment and we should represent this in the language that we use.

“I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I haven’t had the time to make it shorter”
Blaise Pascal

Speak directly to our audiences — “you” instead of “students” — to connect with people and make them feel part of the same, shared vision.


We treat students and colleagues as individuals. Our language should reflect our respect for every individual involved with the University.


Help people share our vision for what the University should be. Use inclusive language: we, our, ours, us rather than ‘the University’.


We are not intimidating or directive. Offer advice, be helpful and encourage feedback from others.


Positivity is infectious. When talking about our locations, programmes and people, we should share our enthusiasm and invite readers to join us, develop dialogue and engage our audiences.

“Correction does much, but encouragement does more”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Use the active voice, rather than the passive. Inject movement to reflect a changing institution that is constantly evolving.


We’re here to support and enable others to embrace change. Use stories to motivate readers and share opportunities and achievements.


We’re a progressive and motivated organisation. Use fragments in amongst longer sentences to add pace. Use short sentences to add emphasis.


Our future is bright and we have a lot to look forward to. Use language that highlights the benefits rather than limitations.

Frequently used terms

Our name

We have worked hard for our university title and should endeavour to ensure that people understand and recognise it. Our name is the cornerstone of our brand identity. Over time our name will inherit meaning and come to represent our aspirations, values and personality.

Our name is: University of Suffolk

We refer to ourselves as the University of Suffolk, e.g. ‘at the University of Suffolk’. Where a sentence starts with ‘the’, e.g. ‘The University of Suffolk strives to…’ then the definite article is capitalised.

Spell out our full name the first time it is used

On subsequent uses abbreviations may be used. In such cases we use ‘the University’ or ‘Suffolk’, e.g. ‘at the University’ or ‘at Suffolk’.

When university is used in a general way, e.g. a place at university (meaning any university) the u should remain lower case.

Each summer the University of Suffolk hosts a career fair. The University invites partners from across the region. Suffolk students discover an excellent range of opportunities at the fair.

Departments and faculties

Use title caps for official names. Do not capitalise the words “department” or “university” when used alone unless referring to ourselves as ‘the University’ or ‘The Department at the University of Suffolk…’

The Department of Children, Young People and Education at the University of Suffolk.

The University announced today a new research project looking into the experiences of disabled people.

University partner colleges

Write out the full name or refer to the publicity protocol for the agreed name descriptors:

University of Suffolk at West Suffolk College
University of Suffolk at Great Yarmouth College
University of Suffolk at Lowestoft College
University of Suffolk at Suffolk New College
A partner college of University of Suffolk
Partner colleges
Learning Network

Main campus

The Ipswich campus should be referred to as the ‘main campus in Ipswich’.


Course names

Use title caps for course names without italics or quotation marks.

Dr Wendy Lecluyse teaches Early Childhood Studies

Course durations

Use a hyphen when referring to a course duration.

Full-time / Part-time

Dates, times and seasons


Do not use ordinals for dates

21 January 2017
2 August 2016


When using am and pm, use lowercase. If indicating a range of time, do not use am or pm after the first time unless it is different than the following time. Use an en dash to indicate time range.

Lectures start at 11.00am
Seminars run from 2.00–3.30pm
Labs will be open from 11.00am–1.30pm


Do not capitalise seasons unless part of a formal title.

She will join the University in summer 2017
He will attend the Summer Ball later this year


When referring to a multiple year duration, avoid using abbreviations.



Range of numbers

En dashes should be used to indicate a range of numbers

Pages 120–131

Figures or words

Always spell out numbers at the beginning of a sentence. Elsewhere, spell out numbers under 10 and use figures for 10 and higher.

Twenty-nine people attended the seminar.
The course contains three lectures and 13 seminars per week.
Exceptions: Pound figures (£2m), percentages (2 percent), page numbers (page 4), addresses (1 Duke Street), time (11.00pm)

Course year

Do not use ordinals when referring to a specific course year.

In the first year both courses are taught in tandem



Form plurals of acronyms by adding an “s”; do not use an apostrophe.


& or and

Avoid the use of ‘&’ and spell out in full e.g. ‘and’.

Writing for the web

Digital content is not the same as printed content. We experience and read digital content differently — we scan content online and pay special attention to bold headers, links, and select keywords. The more you write, the less likely anyone is to read it.

Tips for writing for the web:

Be user centric
Be clear who you are writing for and what information they will be interested in. Prioritise content that will interest your users, rather than what you want to tell them.

Structure your content
For online content, the opening paragraph should offer a summary of the page. Draw your reader in with the most important information first and compel them to read on. Focus on clear flow of ideas and make every word count.

Accentuate key points
Limit headlines to six to eight words. Use bullet points and tables judiciously to pull out important information to ensure salient points are understood, even if users do not read the whole page.

Consider mobile first
We are significantly less likely to read large paragraphs of text online, and even less likely still to do so on a mobile device. Our audiences are increasingly mobile. Digital content should be optimised for mobile first.

Write to be found
Consider what words you and your audiences would type into a search engine and use them in your copy. By matching your language, you can influence your search engine rankings.

Promote accessibility
Consider visually impaired readers when creating your content. Use captions as opportunities to fully describe pictures and imagery used throughout. Describe hyperlinks fully to help those using screen readers and magnifiers.