Voice and Messaging

At Metro, our projects can be complicated, but our language cannot. Our goal is to provide information that clarifies and motivates action, and we do so using simple phrasing in a voice that’s optimistic, confident and cheerful. Our tone is conversational and relatable, and we sometimes use appropriate humor to get our point across. We want all of the audiences we communicate with to know that we understand them and are actively engaged in meeting their evolving needs.

How We Use Our (Outside) Voice

This station uses security cameras. And you look great.
Notice: All activities monitored by security camera.
We’re building the future, right under your feet.
Purple Line construction, now in progress.
Pardon our dust while we transform LA County.
Caution, area under construction.
We want to hear from you!
Draft Environmental Assessment Now Available for Review and Comment.

Metro is:

Honest
Straightforward
Dependable
Transparent
Friendly
Approachable
Diligent
Tech-savvy

Metro is not:

Salesy
Pushy
Bureaucratic
Condescending
Standoffish
Superior
Abstract
Hyperbolic

Messaging Guardrails

We care deeply about how we speak to all of our audiences. These guidelines should be used to illuminate and temper your choice of language and tone.

What to Focus On

Keep it real. Honesty rules, so let’s say what we mean. For example, our riders know we can’t actually take them “from their front door to anywhere” and that it’s not as simple as “hopping on a train,” so there’s no need to over-promise.

Be specific. People like to be in-the-know. Tell them about our new technologies and system improvements and share the details of how we’re improving transportation in LA county.

Go forward. Use language that embodies forward momentum and movement, like evolving, building, progressing.

Convey the benefits. Yes, people want to avoid traffic, and they also want less stress and more peace of mind. Remind them of the benefits of riding Metro.

Be a guide. Metro can help people quench their desire for exploration and new experiences. Be sure to point out familiar trips and journeys, as well as popular destinations.

Be a cheerleader. It’s important to represent the elements of LA we’re most proud of – diverse, colorful, sunny, dynamic, full of opportunity, and a welcoming place for all.

Know your negatives. While the car isn’t the enemy, traffic and parking most certainly are. Feel free to talk about why life is better without them.

What to Avoid

Go easy on the finger-pointing. Remember, the automobile isn’t our enemy. Cars are a part of life for the citizens of LA. We’re trying to gain share, not eradicate the automobile.

There’s no need to pretend. Our audiences know that Metro isn’t perfect, so don’t hide from our challenges or be sheepish about stating them. Our message is an optimistic one about how we never stop working to be better, not that we’re “already there.”

Don’t doubt it. We’re believers. Avoid conveying a lack of belief or confidence (but remain humble).

Don’t be vague. People are skeptical about imprecise statements like “millions of riders” or “thousands of trips.” Make the data you present both tangible and specific.

Be here, not there. Los Angeles residents see their city, and themselves, as unique. Refrain from making comparisons to other public transportation systems or cities, at home or abroad.

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