Part 3: The Power of Sensory Branding—What You Say

What is your organization’s voice? What words do you use when communicating with your patients or with your employees? Do the words you use communicate the personality of your organization?

This is the third blog in a series we call The Power of Sensory Branding. Previously we’ve talked about the look and sound of your brand. Now let’s talk about your brand voice and tone. What is your brand vocabulary? Not only is this fun to discover, it is vitally important.

As an example, think of the difference between the voice of an academic medical center and that of a rural physician practice. Would you expect them to have similar brand characteristics?

On one hand, the small rural physician practice builds lifelong relationships with patients, caring for them over their entire lifetime. Their primary focus is to keep patients healthy and out of the hospital. This practice is like a nurturing mother, making sure patients and their families feel cared for and “known.” Words like you, yours, comfort, caring should be prevalent.

The large academic center, on the other hand, will be less concerned about the patient as a person and more about fighting disease. The focus is professional, research rich and outcome motivated. Patients don’t expect—or hope—to have a lifelong relationship with this organization. Patients want large organizations to be highly skilled in the area of their need. They want an organization that will “fix them so that they can go back to their sweet family doc.” The academic medical center, filled with specialists and scientists, will have a loftier vocabulary, filled with more paternalistic language.

Where does your organization fit into this spectrum?

Discovering your voice begins by taking a look at your mission and values.

  • Why does your organization exist?
  • Who is your primary customer?
  • What do they want from you?

All of these things weigh in when determining your brand voice and tone.

So how to go about this process? First, ask yourself these questions:

  • If our brand were a person, what personality would it have? Authoritarian? Nurturing? Congenial? Serious? Friendly? Put real personality traits to your brand. As many as you can identify.
  • If our brand were a person, what relationship would it have to our consumers? Father? Mother? The weird uncle? A close neighbor? An acquaintance you see twice in your lifetime?
  • What tone of voice would our brand take in this relationship? Formal? Casual? Loving? Professional? Empowering? Tone is a very important ingredient to identifying your brand voice.

Once these elements have been identified, your brand personality and tone, and its relationship with your consumer, starts to become very clear. This is the point where you will discover what your brand voice sounds like.

The second step is to develop a set of approved words and phrases, as well as a list of words that are not acceptable.

  • This “word” guide should be used by anyone who writes for your organization—it’s as important to use the correct voice and tone in leadership speeches and presentations, as it is in your advertising.
  • Any communications, internal and external, should be in this same voice. When this happens, people will begin to identify with the “real you.”
  • Don’t forget, your employees can be your greatest allies. Equip them with the right “voice” when they are speaking or representing your organization, and they will become your biggest cheerleaders.

Discovering the authentic voice and tone for your organization is just as important as your graphic identity. As you aim to deliver great experiences for your customers, giving them a consistent encounter can help build loyalty. Plus, this process can be very rewarding. And fun!

Download the latest Hailey Sault ebook on the leading responses of why patients change providers.  Learn the complex factors affecting the relationship patients have with their provider.