Tone of voice: five ways to get your teams on-board

Alan Black

You’ve held the workshops, considered your purpose, looked inwards and out – and you’ve emerged with a tone of voice that captures everything you love about your brand. Result.

Now for the difficult part: how do you make sure that everyone knows how to put it into action?

This is a critical stage of the process, because if you can’t get your people to use your tone of voice then your potential customers are unlikely to recognise your brand and remember what makes you so great.

Luckily, we’ve got a few ideas to get everyone singing from the same tone of voice guide.

First, make sure it’s inclusive

Okay, maybe this happens earlier in the process, but now is a good time to make sure that your brand tone of voice works for everyone in the company. From the CEO to the customer support team, the sales reps to the social media intern – it needs to make sense to all. And remember, consistency doesn’t necessarily mean sounding the same all the time.

By including staff from across the business in its creation and sign-off, you should sidestep resistance and avoid a tone that only works in certain situations. Ultimately, uptake depends on showing how it makes everyone’s day-to-day conversations easier.

Give them a guide, not a tone

Forget about the 72-page voice guidelines, they’re no good. We swear by keeping things simple because we’ve seen it work time and again. Nobody is checking the guide every time they need to write something. So boil it down to a few key things the teams can actually remember.

A messaging matrix brings it to life

Your brand tone of voice doesn’t exist in isolation. You need to show how it fits into the bigger picture – how should they talk about the specifics? This is what the sales team needs to know. It’s no use talking about features if they can’t pinpoint how they will add value to the user’s life. Remember, your sales team wants to boost conversions. Give them specific messaging that makes it happen, and we’ll eat our hats if they don’t use it.

Run drop-in copy clinics

Not everyone will get it straight away, and that’s alright. They need to be able to turn to someone for support, someone who can build on what’s put down in the tone of voice guide.

Everyone learns in different ways and seeing someone actually put the advice into practice could be just the example they need to become a brand voice master themselves. We call interactive sessions like this ‘copy clinics’. Anyone can swing by with a specific question or to get some more general advice.  

A bit of friendly competition

Keep the new tone of voice front of mind by offering up some incentives. It might be small prizes, it might be the respect of their peers. Either way, some competition helps to focus the mind and will get everyone thinking about how best to use the new brand voice in their everyday work.

Next steps in tone of voice

Whether you’re creating your tone of voice from scratch or struggling to get buy-in from up high, we’ve got the know-how to get your comms speaking with one true voice.

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Described as "beautiful and succinct". Shucks.