Tone of voice

To maintain the integrity of the brand, tone of voice should be consistent across all our online communications. However, there will be semantic differences in the expectations and language preferences between our key audiences and communication streams.

There is a ‘core personality’ for the NIHR constructed from four key ‘traits’ that will resonate across our audiences, and reflect the strategic communications goals and brand values of the NIHR.

This guidance describes how this core personality can be extended and tailored to suit the stylistic differences and expectations relating to each communications stream. 

NIHR core personality

The NIHR is communicating with a broad range of audience types, who engage with the organisation for many different reasons. But there are broad thematic similarities that arise from their expectations, which, if encapsulated as ‘core’ brand personality traits, would allow the organisation to present a unified, coherent tone-of-voice.

Collaborative

The NIHR encourages open dialogue, invites participation, and seeks out opportunities to collaborate.

Inspiring

The NIHR is a source of inspiration for others to follow. This is evident in the positive impact that the research delivers, and in the quality of talent that the organisation attracts, develops, and retains.

Authoritative

The NIHR is a global leader and centre of research excellence, highlighted by the tangible benefits that the organisation has generated for healthcare systems, patients, and society as a whole.

Innovative

The NIHR represents the leading-edge of health research, regularly breaks new ground, and actively explores new ways of thinking, aiming to establish the long-view on the future of healthcare.

Personality trait - Collaborative

The words and phrases below illustrate how the theme of collaboration can be conveyed and should be used as a guide to inform choice of language.

 

What we want to be

What we don’t want to be

Supportive

Over-bearing

Pro-active

Confusing

Responsive

Passive

Reliable

Guarded

Approachable

Fragmented

Constructive

Free-for-all

Understanding

disorganised

Accommodating

 

Inclusive

 


Personality trait - Inspiring

The words and phrases below illustrate how the theme of inspiration can be conveyed, and should be used as a guide to inform

choice of language.

What we want to be

What we don’t want to be

Passionate

Inconsistent

Benefit-driven

Contradictory

Dynamic

Presumptive

Progressive

Intimidating

Driven

Biased

Impartial

Self-important

Empowering

Pushy

Enthusiastic

Intangible

Empathetic

 

Motivating

 


Personality trait - Authoritative

The words and phrases below illustrate how the theme of authority can be conveyed, and should be used as a guide to inform choice of language.

What we want to be

What we don’t want to be

Reliable

Dismissive

Expert

Obstructive

Credible

Arrogant

Knowledgeable

Unsubstantiated

Confident

Vague

Authentic

Judgemental

Professional

Arrogant

Ambitious

Cynical

 

Prescriptive


Personality trait - Innovative

The words and phrases below illustrate how the theme of excitement can be conveyed, and should be used as a guide to inform

choice of language.

What we want to be

What we don’t want to be

Cutting-edge

Irrelevant

Influential

Provocative

Solution-driven

Unfounded

Forward-looking

Too Niche

Transformative

Not attached to the present

Open-minded

Obsessed

Exploratory

 

Visionary

 


Tailoring the tone of voice - Community

Collaboration should be the most prominent personality trait. Language and tone should communicate the ‘One NIHR’ vision, focusing on how the NIHR is connecting, and championing HCPs and Researchers working within the organisation.

  • HCPS and Researchers both respond well to language and content that mirrors a broadsheet newspaper; formal, expert, inquisitive, encouraging debate. Make use of headlines to grab attention.
  • Keep the tone authoritative and professional, but unpretentious. Technical language can be used, but be wary of assuming knowledge of a specialist subject.

Example language:

Interest

Help

Opportunities

Share

Latest

Together

Unified

Support

Understand

Identify

Improve

Vision


Examples:

“New #braincancer #research funding opportunities open, and the deadline is 6th August. Help us make another breakthrough in understanding this disease.”

“Have you got a research idea that could create a #braincancer breakthrough? Apply for funding on our website.”

“CRN research has identified an effective new drug that could improve the quality of life for people living with #braincancer. Explore the findings of this latest health breakthrough: bitly.co.uk/MSiYu.”

“People who are obese are more likely to develop cancer, but little is known on whether weight loss reduces this risk or whether obesity in cancer survivors leads to a poorer prognosis. Dr Amanda Cross outlines the pitfalls in conducting research in this area and how the NIHR is helping.”

“Applications are invited for research proposals that are concerned with the day-to-day practice of health service staff, and that have the potential to have an impact on the health or wellbeing of patients and users of the NHS.”

Tailoring the tone of voice - Relations

This is a similar audience to NIHR Community, but it’s important to recognise the difference in motivation. This audience may not be as engaged, and may have established perceptions that need to be challenged, so language and tone should be focused on reinforcing the positive, beneficial nature of the NIHR.

  • Content should be benefit-driven, and convey the relevance of the NIHR to the healthcare system, industry, and society.
  • Tone should be inviting, intriguing and inclusive. Care should be taken not to come across as ‘pushing an agenda’.

Example language:

Discover

Influence

Benefit

Improve

Outcome

Important

Change

Effective

Reduce

Efficiency

Survey

Achieve


Examples:

“It’s #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. We’ve helped thousands of people since our inception, and our research team has made progress in understanding the impact of mental illness. This is what we’ve achieved in the last year: bitly.co.uk/LkfjE.”

“Our partnership is improving #mentalhealth care delivery within the NHS; find out more about how we help our patients: bity.co.uk/nThrY.”

“We’ve developed an online mindfulness course to help people manage stress and anxiety. Find out more about our support: bitly.co.uk/IoPlJ.”

“We prioritise the questions that are most important to doctors, patients and other evidence-users and the areas of research where the need and opportunity is greatest. We accelerate translation of discoveries into improved treatments and services.”

“NIHR Biomedical Research Centres are leading the way in developing innovative new techniques to restore vision.”

Tailoring the tone of voice - Get involved

Get Involved is focused purely on patients and related public. The content, language, and tone should clearly reflect this distinction. Copy should be non-technical and convey concepts in simple terms, avoiding language that might be misunderstood.

  • The focus should be on positioning the NIHR as a trusted, supportive, organisation that understands the concerns, anxieties, and day-to-day challenges they face.
  • They will not be able to dedicate significant time to engaging with the brand. So messages will need to be conveyed quickly, and complex information broken down into easier-to-digest chunks.

Example language:

Simple

Thanks

Take part

Better

Ease

Living with

New opportunity

Find out

Specific condition i.e. dementia

Understood

Appreciate

Evidence


Examples:

“People living with #dementia will increase 204% by 2050, and we need your support to learn more about this disorder. We run studies to help us understand dementia, from memory games to drug trials, please sign up to help us learn more about this disorder: bitly.co.uk/JGnfj.”

“This is what happens when patients take part in #dementiaresearch: bitly.co.uk/GKLiF.”

“One of our studies has found evidence that a new drug can ease problems with speech for people living with #Alzheimers. Thanks to all the patients who pledged their time and support.”

“Pregnant women will now be offered a simple blood test to detect pre-eclampsia, a common and potentially fatal pregnancy complication, thanks to research funded by the NIHR.”

“NIHR researchers have worked with people with autism to create unique self portraits, as part of an initiative to bring together autistic people and scientists to share ideas and influence the research agenda. “

Tailoring the tone of voice - Partners & Industry

Language and tone should highlight how the NIHR provides benefits to partners, focusing on openness, and how partnerships work from a practical perspective.

  • Content should be clear, uncomplicated and easy-to-understand.
  • The Language should be tailored to the correct audience, for example:  life sciences industry, research charities, or other funders such as research councils and overseas governments. This may include sector-specific phrases  and terminology.
  • audience will be put off by complex, jargon-laden language; uUse facts and figures to impress and demonstrate benefits and outcomes. Show understanding of a commercial mind-set where relevant.
  • Tone needs to be confident, collaborative and celebratory of success: think how NIHR can be relevant, useful and add value to the work of these customers to make the difference to the wider healthcare industry.

 

Example language:

Collaborate

Partnership

Support

Deliver

ROI

Economic benefits

State-of-the-art

World-leading

Industry-led

Call/apply

Applied

Develop

Initiatives

Knowledge exchange

Innovation

Available resources

 

Examples:

“During the 2014/15 financial year, the economic benefits of CRN supported clinical research activity included £2.4 billion GVA, and almost 39,000 new jobs.”

“Imagine what could you could do with access to state-of-the-art facilities, world-leading scientists and an extensive research network? Discover the business benefits of partnering with us.”

“Our industry-led infrastructure helped to achieve 94 new licences, improving the health and wealth of the nation. Partner with the NIHR and help us to ensure research discoveries are turned into tangible outcomes.”

 

New EU #MedicalDevice Regulations #EUMDR are on the horizon requiring:

*more clinical evidence

*more health economic data

*more post marketing clinical follow-up

*and therefore more research sites.

 

Tailoring the tone of voice - Best evidence

The audience for Best Evidence is wide-ranging, from patients and carers to health and social care professionals so the tone must reflect the wide audience and be clear and concise avoiding jargon

  • Unbiased and critical. Content shared by the account must not be ‘promotional’ in tone. It must critically, honestly appraise the evidence.
  • Content must work for social i.e. it must be digestible, understandable to a broad audience and conveyed in such a way

Example language:

New Study

Read or download

Stay up-to-date

Read in full

Evidence shows

NIHR-Funded

Research suggests

Important

Study reveals

Latest research

Summarise

Implications


Examples:

“There is currently considerable debate as to the best treatment for a torn Achilles tendon. There are risks and benefits with the different options Research suggests similar outcomes if treated with or without surgery.”

“Here are last week's Signals. Signals explain why studies were needed, what they found and what the implications may be. Read them in full and get up to date with the latest #research now: #surgery #exercise #newborn #HealthResearch”

“Study shows that increasing registered nursing staff by an hour for each patient per day could reduce the risk of death by 3%. #nurses #wardstaffing #safestaffing”

“Results from a study update revealed that a higher omega-6 fatty acids intake showed no effect on overall risk of cardiovascular disease or death, these foods are recommended as part of a balanced, healthy diet. @TheBHF”