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This article was published on February 2, 2016

Toneapi helps your writing pack an emotional punch

Toneapi helps your writing pack an emotional punch
Martin Bryant
Story by

Martin Bryant


Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-qualit Martin Bryant is founder of Big Revolution, where he helps tech companies refine their proposition and positioning, and develops high-quality, compelling content for them. He previously served in several roles at TNW, including Editor-in-Chief. He left the company in April 2016 for pastures new.

Language analysis is a rapidly developing field and there are some interesting startups working on products that help you write better.

Take Toneapi, for example. This product from Northern Irish firm Adoreboard is a Web-based app that analyzes (and potentially improves) the emotional impact of your writing.

Paste in some text, and it will offer a detailed visualization of your writing.

Credit: Adoreboard
Some of the data Toneapi offers about the emotion in your writing.

From there, you can optimize your text to improve an overall ‘content score.’ Here’s a GIF supplied by Toneapi that shows how Volkswagen could have improved its initial statement following last year’s emissions scandal.

Credit: Adoreboard

“Customer reaction to the crisis on an emotional level was that trust had been broken,” says Toneapi. “The brand’s response should have been to break with corporate convention and provide a more emotional reaction.

“Analysis of (Volkswagen CEO at the time) Dr Winterkorn’s first statement when (the) crisis broke contained limited emotions (and) effectively asked for more time to stay in the job as he announced an investigation into how millions of buyers were cheated. But it was only when the full scale of global reaction began to impact that he decided to quit and by that stage the company’s reputation – and his standing – suffered unimaginable damage.”

Toneapi says that Winterkorn’s resignation statement contained 47 percent more emotional language than the initial one, including words like ‘stunned,’ ‘misconduct,’ ‘Irregularities,’ ‘terminating,’ ‘clarification,’ ‘transparency,’ ‘trust,’ ‘grave,’ and ‘crisis.’ While these might not all seem ’emotional,’ they’re words that the software flags as having emotional impact.

Testing Toneapi, I noticed that while it often found good alternative words for those I’d initially chosen, it doesn’t necessarily choose the version of a word that makes grammatical sense. For example, ‘attractively’ might be replaced by ‘impressive,’ leaving me to edit the grammar myself.

Toneapi’s CTO Dr. Fergal Monaghan tells me that while the company is focused on tone in writing, it will integrate with third-party tools for things like grammar correction in the future.

Toneapi has raised a $1.5 million seed round led by Queen’s University Belfast, where the technology was developed. The app launched in private beta three months ago and is now open to all. It’s being pitched against the likes of IBM Watson Tone Analyzer and recruitment specialist Textio. Relative Insight is another startup operating in the language analysis field.

“Toneapi is able to analyze over 20 specific emotions providing a more granular understanding of tone,” says Toneapi’s Christopher Johnston. “This is important as it can quickly pinpoint why one piece of content is low in trust or the email you’ve just written has high intensity emotions like rage. Depending on the ultimate goal, it provides a natural path to taking an action to improve content.”

Toneapi will be particularly useful for marketers looking to improve the persuasiveness of their language. It offers a two-week free trial, and if you want to continue using it after that it costs $149 per month.

➤ Toneapi