Audience and brand voice guide

Our audience is diverse. We write in a voice that is inclusive, conversational and service-driven.


People from many different backgrounds live, work and play in Minneapolis. They are our website audience.

When we speak to our audience, our voice is inclusive, conversational and service-driven.

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Our primary audience is residents and potential residents.

Their goals:

Quickly access the information and services they need to live, work and play in Minneapolis.


Our secondary audience is business owners (small and large) and potential business owners 

Their goals:

  • Business owners: Find the information and services they need to manage their business.
  • Potential business owners: Find the information and services they need to launch or grow their business.


Our third audience is the media, visitors to the city and City employees.

Their goals:

  • News media: Access policy, event or news information, and find or request data.
  • Visitors to the city: Locate third-party resources to help them enjoy their stay.
  • City employees: Find content about City departments and resources with ease. Use this content on behalf of City residents, business owners and elected officials.

Brand voice, personality and attitude

Simple, accessible and inclusive

We want to keep our messages as simple as possible. When we do this, we make it easier for our website visitors to access information and connect with the City.

We are the most diverse city in the state, and with that comes the most responsibility. We must include everyone, no exceptions, in our content.

Conversational and approachable

To make our content more accessible for all, write in a conversational tone.



Minneapolis residents gave feedback on the vision in February. Then the City Council created a final version and approved it in March.

Not conversational

The adoption of the goals followed a public comment period in February when residents were asked to give their feedback on the draft vision, values, goals and strategic directions.


To best serve our website visitors, we:

  • Think about the questions they might ask
  • Use headings to make it clear how they can find answers
  • Use clear calls to action

Empathetic and purposeful

Because we care about the people we’re creating content for, we:

  • Try to put ourselves in their shoes as we write and structure content.
  • Think about the simplest, clearest way to share information. For example, how can we help residents better understand their utility bill?

We empathize with our website visitors and create content to support them.

Active and informational

  • Write in active voice instead of passive voice. This is the subject, verb, object sentence structure.
  • Use a conversational tone. Imagine you’re talking to someone in person or over the phone, and write that way. 



The Community Connections Conference is hosted by the City of Minneapolis every year.


We host the Community Connections Conference every year.

Notice the difference

  • The passive voice example uses 13 words.
  • The active voice example uses 8 words.

Website visitors skim content to find what they’re looking for. Keep your writing brief.

Referring to ourselves and others

We refer to ourselves as "we" and "our." We refer to the public as "you" and "your." This language makes us more approachable, friendly and human. 


Stiff, business-like, robotic

The Garden tool swap event will be hosted by the City of Minneapolis. Events will take place in various locations around the city.

Approachable, friendly, human

We’re hosting the garden tool swap event. You can give or take free garden tools at many locations around the City. From first time to experienced gardeners, all are welcome at this free event.

Plain language

Use plain language for all written content. 



When the process of freeing a vehicle that has been stuck results in ruts or holes, the operator will fill the rut or hole created by such activity before removing the vehicle from the immediate area.


If you create a hole while freeing a stuck vehicle, you must fill the hole before you drive away.

Language to avoid

To keep our website clear and accessible for all website visitors, avoid:

  • Slang
  • Humor
  • Jargon
  • Clever language