Inside out

You want your new tone of voice to take off. So where should you start? 

With a flashy new marketing campaign? With the ‘about us’ part of your website? How about by rewriting every single customer letter, email or text?

Nope, nope, nope.

Your tone of voice needs to start much closer to home. On your doorstep, so to speak.

It needs to start with your internal comms.


Because over the years, we’ve noticed that the brands and businesses whose internal tone of voice matches their external tone of voice are the ones who really nail it.

Whether it’s the way Apple lives up to its advertising with the inspiring message they send to new recruits on their first day in the office, or Tony’s Chocolonely with their plain English infographic employment contract – this stuff matters.

Internal comms can quickly become external comms

Thanks to social media, there’s no such thing as internal comms anymore. You just need to look at a recent newspaper to read stories about the culture of leaking at Facebook and Apple. In fact, only recently someone at Apple leaked an email from Tim Cook all about how miffed he was about people, you guessed it, leaking info.

But we aren’t just talking about the big stuff here – the strategic documents that can wipe billions off your share price in one fell swoop. Any poorly-written memo or unnecessarily confusing piece of corporate communication can easily find its way into the public domain. And it can do serious damage to your brand.

If your internal comms sound off, you’ve got an authenticity problem

It’s no good having a tone that’s all about being warm and friendly while your internal comms sound like Big Brother.

According to recent Stackla data , 90% of customers mentioned authenticity as an important factor when they’re choosing a brand to go with. And even though 92% of marketers believe the content they’re putting out there is authentic, only 51% of consumers reckon it actually is (only about half of it, at that).

Hit the right tone, and your people will pay it forward

We’ve been talking a lot about empathy recently. And how you need to speak to your employees with compassion and warmth if you want them to speak to your customers the same way. Well, the same goes for your tone of voice. If you use it internally, people will use it when they communicate externally. Language is sticky like that.

Internal comms are at the heart of the P word

Only this time the P word isn’t ‘professional’. It’s ‘permission’.

Most people working in your organisation will see internal comms as the direct line from senior leadership to the people on the frontline. It’s worth remembering that authority bias means we’re more inclined to listen to people further up the food chain. And by showing that your senior leaders are on board, you’ll convince way more sceptics than any amount of training ever will.

It’s what’s inside that counts

Changing the way you write isn’t easy – changing the way an entire business writes is even trickier. Make internal comms your mouthpiece and you’ll spread the word far and wide, avoid social media shaming and give people the confidence to try something new.

So if you’re wondering how to get your external tone of voice off the ground.

Think inside out.

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