Brand - Voice & Tone


Who we are

  • Professionals who are friendly and accessible
  • Experts who are eager to teach you what they know
  • Continuous learners who are open to new and different points of view
  • Trusted advisors who are equal parts knowledgeable and empathetic
  • Embrace teaching by example and being transparent
  • The sum of our parts - a collection of creative, smart, kind, thoughtful people

Our formality

We speak in a way that is conversational but professional, rather than academic or enterprisey. Whenever possible, we cut out jargon. Our audience should feel like we are speaking to them personally.

Our writing

We write in easy-to-understand words and phrases with a broad audience in mind. This sometimes means breaking up sentences and paragraphs to optimize for readability. If you can't comfortably read a sentence out loud, it probably needs a more simple rewrite.


How we speak

Casual and lighthearted writing is often sprinkled into our communications. We enjoy puns and wordplay. We embrace getting nerdy. When appropriate, we use a more serious or authoritative tone. We are serious about what we do but have fun in the process - this should come through to the audience. We encourage thoughtbotters' personal voices and brands to shine through (while remaining professional, of course).

How we write

  • It's ok to write a short sentence that is grammatically incorrect if it's easily understandable in modern vernacular.
  • We often use contractions that make for shorter, easy to read, and conversational writing.
  • For headings and titles, we use Sentence Case which capitalizes the first letter of the first word only (with the exception of proper nouns, etc.)
  • Typically we do not use words for numbers. Instead of "three," we write "3".
  • When writing a list, we use the serial comma (also known as the Oxford comma).
  • We sometimes use emojis and GIFs when communicating on social media, but typically not in other formats.
  • You get one exclamation point per social media post or paragraph, choose it wisely!
  • Case studies have a special set of rules in order to establish authority with the reader.
    • We use a serious tone.
    • We speak about thoughtbot in the 3rd person and avoid using any specific thoughtbotter names.
    • We use the passive voice.

When in doubt, reference MailChimp's Grammar and Mechanics Guide.


Serious business

Your privacy is important to us and we want to be transparent about the data we collect, how we use it, and your rights to control that information, which is why we've made some updates to our Privacy Policy. We made these updates to reflect the standards established by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a set of laws passed in the European Union. Because we believe the whole thoughtbot community should have the right to these protections, we are implementing them globally.

Case Study

When Teikametrics reached out for help with their platform, thoughtbot initially built out a rapid MVP using Ruby on Rails. As customers started getting accepted into the system, it became clear that more firepower was needed on the data side. In order to keep up, thoughtbot built a separate service to process data from Amazon. For this service, Scala, Akka, RabbitMQ, and Postgres were used to build a lightweight but scalable data platform for Teikametrics. By utilizing distributed data streams, the platform can break down a company's entire advertising history in minutes, providing continuous recommendations to sellers. Because the stream processes data in constant memory and applies backpressure, massive influxes of data won't overwhelm the system, and additional data can be processed faster by adding new workers to the cluster.

Not so serious

What do parks, food court samples, and @Upcase have in common? They're all FREE! Check out our online learning platform today.

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