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eBay Product Voice Guide

(note: proprietary information not revealed.)
2008 Design: eBay/San Jose
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Table of Contents

1.0 Welcome
   1.1 The value of voice
  1.2 The role of our customers
2.0 About the audience
   2.1 Our buyers
   2.2 Our sellers
3.0 Understanding eBay terminology
   3.1 Voice terms and concepts
   3.2 Product content definitions
4.0 Our voice
   4.1 Our brand personality
   4.2 The conversational manner
   4.3 How to apply different tones
     4.3.1 Guiding
     4.3.2 Inviting
     4.3.3 Enticing
     4.3.4 Reassuring
     4.3.5 Enforcing
   4.4 The voice statement
   4.5 The voice framework: A summary
   4.6 Selected principles
5.0 Appendices
  5.1 The eBay brand
   5.2 Content style guidelines
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Welcome to the eBay Product Voice Guide. Whether youíre a Content Strategist or Product Manager, or you work for one of our external agencies, this guide will help you learn and apply the eBay product voice to your communications.

By voice, we mean the expression of the eBay brand personality through language. Think of it this way: content is that what of the message, and voice is how that message is expressed in words.

1.1 The importance of voice
Making our communications meaningful depends on crafting our language in a way that supports the eBay value proposition, and embodies the kinds of qualities expected of a company that plays an important role in connecting people — fun, engaging, and vibrant. Our voice must also communicate that we, too, experience the delight our customers feel every day in engaging with others in our truly unique community.

The importance of meaningful communication cannot be overstated: not only does it strengthen the bond between us and our customers, it drives real business growth and success. And even though different intentions on our part require subtle shifts in the tone of our language, eBay customers should always be able to recognize the eBay voice.
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The conversational manner

The manner in which we speak is conversational. Being conversational means speaking to our customers as if weíre having a one-on-one chat with them, using natural, everyday language. This manner never sounds computer-generated, promotional, or marketing-oriented.

The conversational approach works well with longer text elements such as headers, instructional text, and (some) titles — areas where we use full phrases, sentences, and even paragraphs. For shorter page elements such as buttons and labels, focus on clarity and simplicity, and use sentence casing and contractions to invoke a casual feel.

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4.3 How to apply different tones
By strongly connecting our voice to our personality and speaking in a conversational manner, we achieve a consistency in communications that reinforces our brand in a powerful way. This consistency doesnít mean that we donít vary the tone of voice depending upon the intent or context of the messaging. It does mean asking ourselves how the combination of our voice attributes would sound in different contexts.

What is our tone, for example, when inviting a customer to try out a feature? Or reassuring her after losing an auction? Depending on the situation, we modify our voice slightly to reflect a particular intent.

Itís important to note that these variations donít alter either our personality or our conversational manner; rather, they are slight changes in the emphasis of our personality traits to match a specific circumstance.