Verbal Guidelines

Verbal Guidelines

Boilerplate

Accion is a global nonprofit committed to creating a financially inclusive world, with a pioneering legacy in microfinance and fintech impact investing. We catalyze financial service providers to deliver high-quality, affordable solutions at scale for the 3 billion people who are left out of — or poorly served by — the financial sector. For more than 50 years, Accion has helped tens of millions of people through its work with more than 110 partners in 50 countries.

Tagline

We harness the power of digital technology to create a financially inclusive world.

Brand Voice

The brand voice is the tone and style in which we deliver our brand messages. Accion’s brand voice is a thoughtful balance of action-oriented and personable. It also reflects our belief that setting an inclusive tone is fundamental to achieving our vision of a financially inclusive world. These voice attributes should inform how we speak and write on behalf of the brand. They are to inform the tone and style used in all communications.

Brand voice attributes

  • Clear. Be brief, focused, goal-oriented, crisp and precise. Avoid euphemisms.
  • Tactical. Focus on impact and benefits. Highlight the results (macro, where possible) of our work.
  • Bold. Promote our ideals. Advocate for financial inclusion and economic opportunity. Stand up for entrepreneurs. Use an assertive tone and short statements.
  • Pointed. Give a sense of urgency. Make our case through tangible, concrete facts and information backed by solid data. Get to the point.
  • Real. Inspire through personal stories of clients, staff, and supporters.
  • Warm and Inviting. Show that we care. Express passion about client successes and the contributions of partners and supporters. Listen openly and respectfully. Actively encourage engagement, participation, and collaboration.

Writing Guidelines

All writing about Accion should adhere to our brand voice and connect our work to our broader vision of financial inclusion. To tell Accion’s story effectively, always use accessible language, taking care not to overwhelm people with too much information, and staying focused on what matters most to the particular audiences we are targeting. Use active voice and strong headlines to engage readers. Avoid jargon and acronyms whenever possible as they may be alienating to some readers and make the tone less human. Always connect individual clients with a name, quote, or full story — never speak anonymously about clients or feature client photos without identifying them. Never feature our work or our clients in a way that evokes hopelessness or desperation since this is unfair to our clients and unhelpful to our mission. The stories we tell should be human and empowering and never objectifying.

Accion’s preferred style manual is the AP Stylebook. The information listed below is specific to Accion’s voice and the issue areas where we work. When in conflict, these rules take precedence over AP Stylebook guidelines.

  • Accent marks: When writing in English, use accent marks in the names of individuals and businesses, but not for other words.
  • Avoid some common phrases: Phrases that objectify people or militarize our work, such as bottom of pyramid (BOP), boots on the ground, or third world are to be avoided.
  • Customer or client: Customer is preferred over client, but both are acceptable.
  • Dashes: Use an em dash — with a space on each side — to break off a word or phrase from the rest of a sentence for emphasis. En dashes should be reserved for dates and time.
  • Digital or novel words: As new technology or industries flourish, Accion stays on the forefront. This includes how we name these areas. Just as we use email and not e-mail, we say ecommerce, not e-commerce.
  • Headlines: Headlines and subheads should use sentence case.
  • Geography: Follow the AP Stylebook‘s rules for geography and capitalization. For example: sub-Saharan Africa, not Sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Neobank: One word, no hyphen.
  • Micro: For common words in the financial inclusion space that use micro, one word, no hyphen is preferable: microbusiness, microentrepreneur. The exception is when microenterprise is used in the phrase micro, small, and medium enterprises.
  • MSME: This acronym stands for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises — not Micro, Small, and Medium-sized Enterprises.
  • Pronouns: When writing about people, use the pronouns appropriate to their gender, if known. If gender is unknown or irrelevant, use the singular they. If someone has stated preferred pronouns, always follow that preference. Use we or us when referring to Accion. For businesses other than Accion, use it when referring to the business itself or they when referring to a group of people at the business.
  • Serial comma: For the sake of clarity, consistency, and readability, always use a serial comma.

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