finding a voice for tree matrix

voice & tone, copywriting, user testing

TreeMatrixHero (1).png

Tree Matrix allows users of all levels the ability to accurately predict the survivability of a tree before, during, and after construction using a proven mathematical algorithm.

As the first product of its kind, the brand needed a strong introduction to the world. Paired with a designer, we utilized market research, interviewed key stakeholders, developed many iterations of identities, conducted preference tests, and edited based on feedback to build a thorough, yet succinct brand guide.



  • A software first of its kind. There was no precedent for attracting key audience members to the brand so we tested our early concepts on real users.

  • Too many cooks. Our team was only responsible for building the identity of Tree Matrix while other agencies worked simultaneously on a marketing site, the web app, and social media. Communicating these guidelines was the linchpin of this project.

  • No clear line-of-sight for metrics. Starting at 0 can be great – there’s nowhere but up to go. We needed to define what success would look like for this project.


What goes in this brand guide?

Brand guides can have an array of information but it’s important to keep them tailored to the brand’s needs.

We reviewed those needs against well-known brand guidelines to build sections, dividing those between design-focused and content-focused.

First whiteboard session with lead designer. My whiteboard weakness: writing in straight lines.


Turning data into personas

I fleshed out sterile user insights from a market study (left) into human-driven stories (right) to help future employees, writers, and designers better empathize with the people they’re aiming to reach.


Finding the right words

I wanted to communicate what it would sound, look, and feel like to represent the brand to employees and future creatives.

The Words to Write By section helps creators understand how to constantly connect copy, CTAs, tweets, banners, etc. back to the core of the brand’s personality.

Brainstorming the Words to Write by section, proof that it takes a good amount of “meh” to find something worth using.


Brand guide

User personas and Words to Write By truly became the foundation for remaining voice identity sections.



  • wrote hundreds of crappy taglines, a few good ones were later presented

  • used market research, stakeholder interviews, and online conversations to target audiences

  • tagline presentation to client broke down word choice, word combination, and relation to brand position

The tagline writing process started at the whiteboard and I returned to here many times to add new thoughts and remind myself where it all began.

Also featured: my silhouette.


User testing

Once we narrowed taglines down to two, I conducted a preference test on real users at a nearby architecture firm.

  • gathered quantitative results on preference between 2 tags

  • provided follow-up questions to generate qualitative results about user decisions

Quantitative results were inconclusive but fortunately our follow-up questions provided a bit more insight.

Where the quantitative results lacked, the qualitative results shed some light on why people preferred or didn’t prefer one of the options.


Brand guidelines met.

Other agencies adopted and accurately followed our brand guide in their own web designs and writing/designs for social.

Successfully launched a brand.

Still in its infancy, Tree Matrix launched in Fall 2018 and started accepting paid subscriptions.