Copywriting

Please ensure that as a copywriter, you're always using a consistent tone of voice throughout all of your Walmart digital work.  The tone of voice contained in this guide is taken directly from Walmart's global brand standards.


Trait #1: Caring

Write with empathy
Look at your communication in terms of the other person.

Make it obvious that we’ve done our homework
Always know what you’re talking about. It breeds trust and shows you care enough to research.

Show that we’re there for them
Include our phone number, mailing address, or e-mail address when appropriate.

Be upbeat but never “cheeky”
Avoid being glib, flippant, apathetic, or pretentious.

Communicate with the utmost respect — always
Everyone deserves it.

Be friendly, not familiar
Smile at customers, but don’t put your arms around them.

Offer helpful suggestions
We all need tips on how best to use products or services.

Be passionate
If it matters to our customers, associates, and suppliers, it matters to you.

Ask questions
Even if they’re not meant to be answered. It engages the reader/listener.

Keep the volume down
Avoid uppercase and exclamation points!!!!

Trait #2: Real

Write conversationally
The way people talk. Real people.

Be friendly in your copy
Real people like other real people. Show it in your tone.

Never be phony
There’s no place for hucksters at Walmart, so don’t write like one. Be sincere.

Use words that average people understand
Using big words just to impress is pretentious.

Be humble
Being modest and self-effacing in addressing great achievements works best. We’re not braggarts.

Sound approachable
Your words should have an undertone of “I’m glad to see you.”

Use humour appropriately
Humour engages, so use it occasionally to get a point across, but never at the expense of others.

Trait #3: Aware and Responsive

Reveal something new
New means change and change is born of being aware and responsive.

Share an idea
A suggestion on how to use a product, where to find a great solution.

Be creative
Try a different approach. A new angle.

Know the latest and greatest
Aware and responsive communicators avoid dated thoughts and words.

Share your enthusiasm
Especially about change and the future. It’s infectious.

Brainstorm
Be open to all ideas, no matter the source. It'll show in what you write or say.

Trait #4: Straightforward

Make clarity king
Is your message crystal clear? If not, take another shot.

Be brief
Say the most with the fewest words possible.

Get to the point
Be direct; don’t make people wait for what you really mean.

Say what you mean...
… and mean what you say. Honesty and candour in communications are crucial.

Use short sentences and brief paragraphs
Blocky text and run-on sentences hurt your message.

Don't be wishy washy
Take a point of view and have it run through your message.
It’s important to always keep in mind writing in the Walmart tone and voice doesn’t mean everything we write should sound the same. Not at all. Most important of all is to write for the audience while weaving our brand personality traits into your copy. Do it often enough and you’ll see how easily it can become second nature.
— Walmart global brand

Carousels & Banners

Copy should always be as specific as possible. Banners help our customers navigate the site, and vague copy can lead customers down the wrong path or give a false impression about the featured products. Some things to keep in mind:

Writing for banners/tiles: mention the featured products/category or where the banner clicks to. This gives the customers context so they know where the banner leads. For example, banners that click through to Halloween candy should include the words "Halloween candy". Banners about car seats should include the words "car seats". Banners about men's jeans should include the words "men's jeans". Etc...

Writing for carousels: Be sure to mention the theme of the carousel. For example, if the carousel features TVs, then be sure to use the word "TV". If it's about baby feeding, then use the words "baby feeding". Etc. Vague carousel titles can make the carousel seem out of place, and they do a poor job of highlighting the products within the carousel.

Do's

  • Always mention Clearance, if the featured items are on Clearance
  • Always mention Rollback, if the featured items are on Rollback
  • "Low prices every day on _____________ " is always a great go-to (but cannot be used in alongside items on Clearance or Rollback)
  • Always keep context in mind. Where does this element live? Where will it click to? What images are we featuring? What will customers expect?
  • Be brief! Customers aren't here to read your memoir; they're scanning, so get the message across as quickly as possible

Don'ts

  • Don't use puffery or hyperbole
  • Don't be vague; be direct and helpful
  • Don't make false promises or claims

Caps & Spelling

  1. Always use sentence case, with a few exceptions:
    • Proper names (brands, cities, etc.)
    • “Walmart” proper names, like “Walmart.ca”, “The Pharmacist”, etc.
    • Rollback and Clearance are always upper case, and never plural
  2. When unsure, refer to the first entry in the Oxford Canadian Dictionary (do not Google it. Do not refer to Merriam-Webster.)
  3. Always use Canadian spelling.
  4. Always double-check French caps, spellings, and accents. 
  5. If you’re still unsure about anything, ask your friendly neighbourhood copywriter :)


Punctuation

  • Headlines and taglines do not take periods, however, question marks and exclamation marks should be used where appropriate
  • Bullet points do not take periods
  • Never use more than one exclamation mark! 
  • Put spaces around the em dash ( — )


Tone

Our tone can be summed up in a few simple points:

  •  Be friendly, caring, and trustworthy; like getting advice from a friend
  • Be direct, be real, and use everyday language
  • Be informative and helpful
  • Use verbs and calls to action as much as possible
  • Avoid marketing jargon and generalizations (ex: New juice you’ll love)
  • Don’t exaggerate (ex: Our diapers are out of this world!)


Always be wary of...

If you see any of the following, always second-guess their use!

  1. Dashes vs. hyphens
    •  There are two types of dashes: the em dash () and the en dash () and the hyphen (-). They’re all different sizes, and all have different uses
  2. Semi-colons
    • This little guy ; is one of the trickiest pieces of punctuation. Always second-guess whether or not it’s used correctly
  3. Wordiness
    • Don’t overuse adjectives
    • If a word can be deleted and the phrase still retains all meaning, delete that word
    • Never use a long word where a short one will do (ex: Say “about”, not “approximately”)
    • Do not repeat a word in the same sentence


Spelling Style

Common words that are commonly misspelled:

  • Rollback (never “Rollbacks”, and always with and upper case “R”)
  • Clearance (always with an upper case “C”)
  • Low prices every day (there is a space between “every” and “day”)
  • Bestseller or Bestselling (one word, not two)
  • Pickup (it's one word when used as a noun, as in Walmart Pickup, pickup location, etc)
  • Pick up (it's two words when used as a verb, as in "I'm going to pick up my groceries")
  • In-store (when used with a hyphen, it's an adjective or adverb used to describe something. Ex: an in-store bakery; an in-store promotion)
  • In stores (when used without a hyphen, it denotes where. Ex: The movie is available in stores)
  • Pre-order (add a hyphen in there)

 

Plural Possessives: 

Tip: if a word ends in the letter 's', the apostrophe comes after the 's'. 

  • Men’s
  • Women’s
  • Children’s
  • Boys’ (apostrophe comes after the ‘s’)
  • Girls’ (apostrophe comes after the ‘s’)
  • Kids' (apostrophe come after the 's')

Exception to the rule: sometimes you add an apostrophe + letter 's' to a possessive that ends in the letter 's'. That was confusing, so here's an example:

Have you seen James's socks?

Are you going to Ross's party? 

This is a silly rule, but it's easy to remember: if you pronounce the second 's', you add it. Example: "James's sock" sounds like "James-is sock". "Ross's party" sounds like "Ross-is party".

Bottom line: if you're unsure as to whether or not to add a letter 's' after the apostrophe, just say it out loud; if you pronounce it, then add it.

 

Plural Acronyms and Plural Numbers

The acronym itself is written in upper case, with the 's' lower case. Never use an apostrophe before the 's'. For example:

  • TVs
  • DVDs
  • CDs

Exceptions: If an apostrophe would reduce any chance of misunderstanding what a word means or how it’s pronounced. For example:

Straight A’s vs. Straight As

Numbers do not take apostrophes. For example:

  • 100s
  • 1,000s

Etc.

 

Holidays & Events

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