Brand, voice, and tone

Brand is the public embodiment of our work and goes far beyond logo or colors. It is the way audiences think of us, the way peers feel after engaging with us—it is the expression of our work out in the world.

Our goal

For every piece of Harvard Chan School’s digital content to be undeniably ours. By following these guidelines, you have the power to elevate our brand and solidify our audiences’ understanding not only of what we do, but how they can contribute. It takes all of us.

Brand personality

Our personality derives from our vision: A world with health, dignity, and justice for every human being. Through our research, education, and engagement, we seek to build a world where all people can thrive.

Reflecting the ambition and the urgency of those goals, our content must convey authority , empathy, and commitment. Wherever possible, we highlight action and impact.

We are authoritative, but approachable. We are serious, but welcoming. Above all, we are public health experts with a dogged determination to bring health equity to all.

Our personality is rooted in six main pillars:

  • Warm: We are here to save lives and improve well-being. We approach our work and our audiences with warmth, care, and a belief in the power of human connection.
  • Trustworthy: Our work is serious. We check our sources, we provide data, and we speak clearly.
  • Scholarly: We choose our words carefully. We are direct. We do not sugar coat—nor do we overstate.
  • Curious: We ask questions. We explore. We learn.
  • Ambitious: We make no apologies for the seriousness of this work or the boldness of our vision.
  • Adventurous: We are willing to take risks to uncover truths. We seek to engage with the world.

On-Brand writing tips

When writing for Harvard Chan School, keep the following in mind.

Be clear & concise

Our primary audiences are busy people. Use clear language and simple phrasing. Less is more.

How? Use the plain language guidelines in this doc below or use the Hemingway App or SiteImprove to ensure your content is 8th grade level for non-researcher audiences and below 11th grade level for researchers. If you don’t have access, request SiteImprove access here.

Be visionary, yet realistic

Our goals are bold. Our language should inspire readers about the possibilities ahead, while remaining pragmatic about the work it will take. Show our audiences we need their help.

How? Always include a call to action on each page. These will vary with your individual objectives. You might urge readers to subscribe to a newsletter, explore related content, contact an admissions officer, apply for a job, etc.

Be personal, not bureaucratic

We work with (and seek to help) real people with real needs. Our language should feel professional, but also warm, relevant, and approachable.

How? Whenever possible, weave personal stories, data and evidence to show, not tell, how our work makes a difference. Avoid jargon, acronyms, and bureaucratic language as much as possible.

Be accessible

We design our content with the reader in mind, aiming to make it easy for them to navigate.

How? Break content into scannable chunks (with subheads every 300-500 words) so that people can scan a page easily. Add bullet points where appropriate. Follow the heading level hierarchy described here.

More in the Content Playbook

Writing for web and search engine optimization