Tone Words

We’ve established a set of tone words that embody our unique selling proposition of “Together, Unstoppable”. Keeping them in mind will help when developing communications for the brand. When speaking to different audiences, certain tone words will be emphasized or understated depending upon whom you’re addressing.


Brand Rationale

Our brand rationale is a mission statement that defines who we are as a university. It’s a good idea to read through the rationale several times. The more familiar you are with what it means to be a Gator, the easier it will be to create truthful and compelling messages.

We come to UF as individuals with big dreams, ambitious goals and a deep desire to be a Gator. But that’s only the beginning. As Gators, our purpose is greater. We are a family—one that is forever loyal. That’s why there is no such thing as a former Gator. Our legacy is greater than a mascot. Or a logo. It’s more than titles and awards. It is the reason that UF stands as one of the nation’s preeminent institutions. It’s why we push each other every day, not only to make a positive impact in our community and our state, but to move the whole world forward.


While our brand has one clear voice, the people who interact with it are wide and varied. To help understand who they are, and how to reach them, we have placed them into five categories:

USERS: These people are seeking out the opportunities, educational or otherwise, available at UF. They could be prospective students, current students, guidance counselors, prospective parents or current parents.

OPINION MAKERS: This category includes our peers (other universities), legislators and members of the media that influence how UF is perceived.

PROVIDERS: This group includes prospective faculty, staff and administration, as well as current faculty, staff and administration.

ADVOCATES: These are the alumni and donors who bleed orange and blue, and passionately support UF.

BELIEVERS: The believers are passionate Gator fans living around the country.

While the brand should contain the characteristics of the tone words outlined above, the degree to which the audiences feel them should vary. Think about putting these personality traits or tone words on an equalizer that allows you to dial up or dial down certain elements.


Throughout the branding guidelines we offer examples on how to reach specific audiences from a tone, typography, color, photography and graphic element perspective.

Copy Tone: Overall

“Some people dream about making the world a better place. Gators are out there doing it. Every day. Because it’s not just about receiving a 4.0. Or publishing a research paper. Or cutting the ribbon on a new building. It’s much greater than that. And everyone here knows it. Through intellect and effort, Gators are moving the world forward.”

The tone of both the body copy and headlines should reflect this selfless attitude of working hard and working together, toward a bigger purpose. Our words should inspire others, just as those on campus motivate one another to aim higher and achieve more.

Copy Tone: Audiences

Within the consistency of our brand voice, flexibility is allowed to speak to different audiences. After all, you wouldn’t talk to a 17-year-old high school senior the same way you’d talk to a high-level university donor. This is where our tone words, used to varying degrees, are helpful in crafting copy. Think of them as knobs on a stereo. You can turn the volume up or down depending on the audience.

For example, when writing for an undergraduate audience, the tone and style should convey enthusiasm ( energetic ) and determination ( gritty ). When speaking to a university donor, the tone and style should be more mature ( proud ) and informed ( purposeful ). Compare these 2 examples:

To undergraduates:
Before “Win from within.” Before Michael Jordan sponsorships. Before it helped the football team come back to beat LSU. Someone asked a question. Assistant football coach Dwayne Douglas asked why his players lost so much weight during games. That simple question led to Gatorade and the creation of a multi-billion dollar sports drink industry. But it also created something much bigger—a culture of innovation where questions and connections across disciplines are encouraged. A culture that established UF’s Office of Technology Licensing and more than 140 startups. Companies that are bringing millions in revenue back to Florida, and seeding future innovations to come. Why put our profits back into research? Because as Gators, we know new ideas are what fuel a stronger tomorrow.

To donors:
Being Gators isn’t something we turn off. It’s not something we’d ever deny. It is who we are. It makes us proud. And pushes us to always do more. Together we contribute to something much greater than ourselves. Together we are an unstoppable force. And now, as we’ve come so close to becoming a top 10 public university, we sincerely thank you. Because your commitment has brought us to this point, and will continue to always push us further. We know that your giving means more than money. It means giving yourself. That’s what makes us who we are. And always will be.

Copy Tone: Headlines

Your headline is your best, and perhaps only, opportunity to grab the reader’s divided attention and get them to commit to the rest of the story. So it needs to be intriguing, interesting and simple. Don’t cram too much information into it. Don’t make it obtuse and confusing. Be focused, yet be creative.

In our labs incredible things grow.
Like the U.S. economy.

Here we are talking about how UF is responsible for launching startup companies at five times the national average. But instead of stating that fact straight out, and risking losing the reader, we use the benefit of startups, fueling the economy, to catch their interest.

Their research influences our world.
But their world revolves around you.

Here we are talking to undergraduate students about the opportunities they have to work side by side with UF’s top researchers. Initially the line focuses on the world-leading researcher, but uses a clever twist to personally involve the student. Making it more likely they’ll continue reading to get the rest of our message.

Shared Messaging to Move UF Even Farther Forward

As energy and momentum continue to build toward elevating our stature, it is essential we speak with one voice to leverage the university’s accomplishments to their maximum benefit, minimize confusion and deliver a more impactful message for all audiences. To that end, we have assembled this reference guide (the Communications Toolbox Piece) as you communicate with your constituents to ensure meaningful discussion about this vibrant institution.

Download the Communications Toolbox piece

Additional Writing Guidelines

For more details on writing editorial and advertising copy within the UF brand guidelines, please reference the Brand Guidelines PDF.

Download the Brand Guidelines