Voice and Tone
Voice is the personality or style of your writing—what sometimes is thought of as your attitude toward your audience. It helps you catch your readers’ attention and establish a relationship with them. Voice is important in the work we do, because it establishes consistency across a website or family of publications.
The Emory essence is about inquisitiveness, optimism, impact, and purpose. The voice echoes these sentiments. The language is progressive yet welcoming, lofty, aspirational, and always resolute.
- Use a commanding, confident voice.
- Use an active voice.
- Use a conversational voice, using storytelling to share your message.
- Be concise, keeping your message direct and the length of your piece in check.
Tone is a subset of your voice; it conveys the mood or attitude of each piece. If voice is the personality of your piece, then tone is the mood. Your tone will vary from piece to piece, but only within the consistent voice you have established.
We have established a set of tone words that express the core traits of Emory and reflect its personality. These words are not to be used in copy, but they should inspire the way you communicate with different audiences. The tone will shift depending on the audience, but all communications should use the following words as a guide.
We stand by what is good.
We attract partnerships for innovation.
We are intensely engaged.
We work in service of humanity.
We have work to do.
We are driven to uncover new knowledge.
All audiences are not alike, so the degree to which different audiences feel the tone words should vary. You can dial up or dial down certain tone words when you are communicating with different audiences.
The following writing samples demonstrate the breadth and depth of the communication strategy. There is no direct use of the tone words or pillars, but the elements create a coherent set of messages even though each is crafted for different uses and audiences.
When writing for a graduate student recruitment audience—Consumers—you might emphasize Purposeful and Passionate
More. That’s what Emory’s seven professional and graduate schools urge our students to do. Here, there’s an ethos of ethical leadership that nurtures innovative ways of thinking and doing. It’s taking theories and basic research and making them applicable to people’s everyday lives. It’s being open to diverse modes of thought and ways of being. Our students go on to transform institutions, governments, policy, and practice. Our commitment to ambitious transformation doesn’t end in our backyard but extends around the world.
But a donor audience—Advocates—might hear different tones, Caring and Purposeful.
Emory’s bold and creative thinkers push forward on all fronts, innovating for global health, enhancing the impact of health sciences, partnering with our strong city, and strengthening academic excellence. Join us as our discoveries create change, our insights reach across the globe, and cures become reality. Join us as we change the way we live in the world.
For an audience of Believers—who know of Emory through news stories about Ebola or the work of the Carter Center—writing may be Purposeful and Curious.
Yesterday’s breakthrough is today’s starting point. We’re not only the region’s most comprehensive academic health care system but a vital center for research. Cancer. HIV/Aids. Global Health. Heart disease. Never content to merely build on what came before, we forge new paths, new cures, and new ideas on the frontiers of human health. We find a way where there’s no way.
Writing may emphasize Purposeful and Noble for faculty and staff recruitment, an audience of Guides.
At Emory, we hire doers and bold thinkers not afraid to challenge the status quo—or even create it. We live our values every day. To teach. To transform lives. To heal bodies and minds. To be a vital and contributing member of our greater community. Every job at Emory, every person here, is part of a well-tuned ensemble perfectly positioned to carry out our mission: to create, preserve, teach, and apply knowledge in the service of humanity.
And for an audience of Influencers—such as legislators or the media—you might amplify Magnetic and Curious.
What keeps us up at night? We’re driven. Driven to find new ways to partner for creative thinking and uncover real solutions for the world today. Driven to collaborate for innovation both across the globe and right at home. Driven to make an impact through our deep commitment to civic engagement, academic excellence, and research and innovation. So we all can sleep better.
For an audience of Regulators—such as politicians, research administrators, or accrediting agencies—you might amplify Noble and Purposeful.
Our interdisciplinary approach to research and innovation attracts highly competitive federal and private grants, leading us to groundbreaking discoveries. Our faculty and students come from throughout the United States and across the world to form an academically rich and diverse campus whose thought leaders and creative thinkers solve some of today’s biggest challenges. Our local partners, whose reach is global, help us extend this impact to do good where it is most needed.