Whether we're talking emails, marketing, page copy, articles, or instructions, we try to maintain the same "voice" across all of our products and content. In terms of what you—the reader of this guide—will mostly run into, there are two layers to all this:

  1. Copy that's from "The Company": When you are writing as the company (Tofugu LLC), or as the product (Tofugu and WaniKani), it's important to follow the guidelines written out below. It's going to be difficult for everyone to sync up voices, but you should do your best in these cases, or ask someone with more experience writing as "the company."
  2. Copy that's from You: When we're writing something that's not from "The Company," it's writing that comes from you. We encourage you to use first person in cases like these. For example, articles and news posts (you're listed as the author), marketing emails (your name comes after the salutation), support emails (again, it's your name down there!), and the like. When you're writing copy that comes from you, it should sound like your voice. But, it should also follow some of the guidelines listed below.

With that, the following are a set of guidelines to help you to write your copy with the "Voice" of Tofugu and WaniKani.

The Copy's Purpose

Whenever we write something, whether as ourselves or as "The Company," we should do it with the purpose of helping the learner to make progress in their goal of learning and using their Japanese.

If Tofugu was a Person...

If Tofugu (The Company) was a person, they would be described as:

Human, Relatable, Approachable:

We use first person when we can. We say "I'm sorry," "I think people should xyz," and "I love this book."

When someone has a problem, we empathize with ways we personally relate.

We identify as learners ourselves, not as the end-all-be-all of language learning. People come to us because they can relate to the struggle of learning through struggles of our own. People know we're all in it together.

And, we're not snobbish, arrogant, or high-and-mighty. We don't always know best, we should be curious and ask questions, and in that way be approachable. We shouldn't stay out of reach because we're being perfect or better than anyone.

Smart, Knowledgeable, Curious:

Being relatable doesn't mean we shouldn't be smart and knowledgeable. We're not right 100% of the time, but we sure try to be. We're not afraid to figure out and break down difficult, convoluted topics (Japanese linguistics is full of them). Our writing comes mostly in article or short-form, but in terms of those mediums, we write with more depth, and we often write more. The style of our writing is more like book writing, and does require more concentration on the reader's part than, say, Buzzfeed.

On the flip side of this is the dumb and clickbaity web (take your pick, there's a lot of this out there). We lose readers and page views by not catering to this demographic, but in doing so we attract those who genuinely want to learn.

Honest, Genuine, Trustworthy:

If someone asks us a question, we'll give our best, most honest reply.

When we're talking about a competitor, we'll say it's good if it's good, and bad if it's bad—in both cases with thought-out reasoning.

We're in it to help the learner to learn, even if that means not promoting our own products every step of the way. When we genuinely think our products will help someone to learn (for example, when someone wants to learn kanji, we might recommend WaniKani), we'll recommend it. But, we'll do our best to not be biased, and we should never recommend something for financial gain.