How do you give that rebellious, witty ‘Virginness’ a nautical flavor? That’s what we helped Virgin Voyages do when we developed the tone of voice for Sir Richard Branson’s new brand as it prepared to shake up the cruise market.
In what was, quite frankly, a dream brief, the brand team wanted a ‘tone of voice bible’ that was ‘a joy to read’. It needed to build on both the Virgin brand, and the positioning work for Virgin Voyages. It had to capture the trademark Britishness of Virgin while also appealing to a US audience. And it had to set the tone from page one.
The voyage from vision to voice
Taking inspiration from the Virgin Voyages brand vision, we summed up the voice as 'The Modern Romance of Sailing, Headlining You'. This was unpacked into practical principles that captured the wit, lyricism, nautical and evocative nature of the brand, while putting customers (or ‘Sailors’) front and center.
Guidelines included everything from rules for nautical puns (‘Talk nautical to me’ is fine, but ‘Let’s get kraken’ is a step too far), to advice on where to draw the line with sexy emojis. And our New York team sense-checked all the work with our counterparts in London to make sure any cultural references translated on both sides of the Atlantic (‘We’re more Soho House than Downton Abbey’).
Through hands-on masterclasses, we’ve rolled out the voice to everyone who writes for Virgin Voyages. And along the way, we coined the term #shiptease for the keel-laying ceremony, which was picked up not only by the media but also by Sir Richard himself. #FTW
The Writer agency took a masterful approach to the language document for this new travel brand by surfacing our master brand's British heritage and musical legacy while simultaneously managing to hit on those modern and nautical elements that speak to who we are now. Truly inspiring and exciting work.
Jaclyn Marinese, Senior Brand Writer at Virgin Voyages