An illustration of a mouth with flexing bicepsWhen it comes to connecting with patients, the community and other key audiences, it’s not just what you say that’s important. It’s how you say it. Creating a strong brand voice can help you better connect with patients and set you apart from your competitors.

Voice is the unique personality that comes out in your organization’s written and visual communications. Word choice, sentence length, tone, photography and even the type of content you create and share can help patients anticipate what it would be like to interact with providers, nurses and others in your organization.

Creating a strong brand voice is essential for an effective content marketing strategy. But it doesn’t always get the attention it deserves. Brand voice allows your organization to:

  • Stand out from the crowd
  • Build trust and strengthen connections to your organization
  • Convey empathy and an understanding of patient needs

Here are five steps to creating a strong brand voice for your organization.

1. Start with your organization’s mission, vision and values

A compelling brand voice should be true to your organization’s culture, beliefs and mission.

If your organization is passionate about researching and discovering breakthrough therapies, let that energy and confidence come alive in your written materials.

Similarly, if it’s important to your organization that you support and guide patients and their families through their healthcare journey, then marketing materials should convey the same reassurance, warmth and comfort patients would experience in person.

In an article published by Becker’s Health IT, chief marketing officer at Bon Secours Mercy Health Sandra Mackey put it this way: “Crafting an authentic brand voice starts with clear organizational alignment on our mission, values and core culture behaviors. At Bon Secours Mercy Health, our associates live our values and core culture behaviors every day, which is evident in the way they serve our patients and communities.

“Our brand is merely an expression of their collective voices and commitment to what BSMH stands for, and it is evidenced by the experience consumers and patients have every time they engage with us at every touchpoint.”

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2. Work as a team to develop brand voice guidance

Once your team develops a sense of the organization’s brand voice, it’s time to develop best practices. These can help writers create content that just sounds right.

University of Utah Health publishes brand voice guidelines for staff and the whole world to see on its website. We like how these guidelines:

  • Define U of U Health’s voice: direct, confident and optimistic
  • Include seven “tone words” to guide communication. These include words like “caring,” “unconventional” and “leading edge.”
  • Show how to adjust tone for different audiences
  • Give examples of on-brand sentences.

Be sure to add the brand voice guidelines to your team’s editorial style guide. (If your team doesn’t have a style guide yet, here are the important components of a style guide you should include.)

3. Provide a mini-workshop to train writers on brand voice

Develop a training session to help your writers understand the organization’s brand voice. Online conferencing platforms like Zoom and Teams make it easy. Everyone can gather for a presentation, and a simple slide deck is perfect for training (and review). You can screen-share to showcase websites with a strong brand voice or highlight pages on your organization’s website that may fall short.

If your brand’s voice guidelines are complicated or nuanced, consider training key employees and empowering them to be ambassadors for your brand.

4. Aim for consistency across all communication platforms

Creating a strong brand voice isn’t something you do on select platforms. It should be a priority everywhere your organization has a presence, including:

  • Websites, microsites and blogs
  • Social media accounts
  • Patient information handouts and forms
  • Billboards and banners

Every communication is an opportunity to share your organization’s unique brand voice. That includes physician bios and patient stories.

For the past two years, WriterGirl has been writing provider bios for Cincinnati Children’s — 1,245 and counting. In addition to highlighting the provider’s education and training, each doctor bio includes a quote about their philosophy of care and personal interests. This helps parents envision what it would be like to meet the provider in person. And it’s how they learn that pediatric urologist Michael Daugherty, MD, played competitive badminton in college, and pediatric gastroenterologist Amy Taylor, MD, loves to knit.

This practice is consistent with a core tenet of the Cincinnati Children’s brand, which is to connect head and heart with a simple, bold and emotional tone of voice. It’s an effective way to communicate brand voice (and build provider practices).

5. Make sure brand voice is baked into your editorial process

Once you’ve established your organization’s brand voice, it’s time to make it stick. Make sure your team:

  • Prioritizes brand voice during the proofreading process — brand voice is just as important as proper grammar and punctuation.
  • Understands the importance of brand voice and supports it. Refresher mini-workshops can help, especially when new employees come on board.
  • Feels empowered to flag “brand voice violations” and recommend changes to website content or other communications.

We can help you find your brand voice. Brand voice is an essential part of your organization’s unique marketing and brand strategy that can help showcase points of difference, benefits and personality. WriterGirl’s team of writers, editors and strategists can help you create a strong brand voice for your organization, so you can better connect with patients and consumers. Drop us a line anytime to learn more.

We’d love to learn other insights about how your organization creates and protects its unique brand voice. Please share your ideas with us on FacebookTwitter or LinkedIn.