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Can listeners understand your brand?

Jun 12, 2018

Alexander Zverev is a German tennis professional known best for his sporting achievements – but it’s not these credentials that have seen him all over the internet lately. His inability to understand the West Yorkshire accent has thrown him into the limelight, and show us why it’s so important for brands have a globally understandable voice.

During a press conference at the French Open, Zverev was asked a question by Bradford-born LiveSportsFM Tennis Reporter Jonathan Pinfield, who by his own admission speaks ‘fluent Yorkshire and some English’. Instead of answering the question put to him, Zverev paused before asking Pinfield where he was from. This then prompted an amusing exchange, which you can watch in full here.

Although the comments between Zverev and Pinfield were affable, it’s since sparked a conversation on the importance of clear communication – something especially important to consider when it comes to branding. The nature of a press conference is to extract information from someone using a concise, clear line of questioning. When interviews involve two individuals with widely varied accents, communication may break down. Why? Because it’s harder to establish a connection – and it works this way in business too.
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It’s not just about how your organisation is represented – it’s how your clients relate to and understand your brand. If your potential clients are watching television, listening to the radio, or waiting on-hold, they’re not going to feel a bond with your company unless the voice is memorable, and they can fully connect with the voice they’re hearing.

Your brand needs a voice that perfectly represents who you are as a business and what you stand for. There’s no use, for example, choosing a brand voice that’s docile or meek if otherwise your branding is high-octane and sales-driven.

If you’re a local business with roots firmly planted within the community, opting for a regional voice is likely to work to your advantage, as it makes you appear more personable and caring. However, if you work on a global scale with clients of multiple nationalities, it’s best to choose a neutral voice so you can reach the widest possible audience.

This is exactly what Amazon has done. Sitting comfortably in the Top 10 Global Brands, Amazon’s success is down to much more than their revenues and profits – it’s down to how recognisable their brand voice is. Alexa, for example, is a voice that’s recognisable all over the world. Everything is spoken clearly and in plain English – although other languages are available too. All this helps instil the illusion that it’s a real person speaking back at you, not just artificial intelligence.

Without this kind of clear branding and a consistent voice across the board, companies like Amazon wouldn’t be as renowned as they are today. Jonathan Pinfield’s message may have been unclear to Alexander Zverev, but it was memorable. Yet as a business, you need to make sure your message is never lost in translation.