Establishing a strong brand identity is fundamental to the success of any business. The McDonalds golden arches… the Nike swoosh – both strikingly simple designs which rose to dominate a global consumer landscape. But in the realm of the smart speaker, the flexibility to create similar iconicity simply isn't available. With only three virtual voice assistants speaking for every business using the platform, how do you shape your own brand's unique identity in this vital new channel? Read on as we explore how brands are making their personality heard through the mouth of Alexa et al.
Experts predict that 50% of all search forecast will be voice-based within just two years, and CNBC warns that every brand will need to develop a voice strategy by 2020. Therefore, it's never been more important for companies to embrace the technology. Currently, the Smart Speaker market is dominated by Amazon, Apple and Google – and it's interesting that all three have opted for a default female voice for their virtual assistants. There are contrasting theories as to the default setting; some studies suggest a female voice is more emotionally effective at conveying a brand's identity, whilst others argue it's a subliminal decision, reinforcing female stereotypes around the home. Either way, it poses a challenge for companies trying to display their own unique brand through the devices.
As the voice itself is the same, it's all about the response and relationship with the consumer. The businesses enjoying the most success are the ones who are getting the basics right, and content is key in achieving this. Companies need to develop skills that offer content unique to the medium and remains relevant to the brand, and Oral-B have got their teeth firmly stuck into the new technology to really hit the mark. Their 'Chompers' toothbrush uses radio frequency to provide real-time feedback as to how children should be brushing, offering an interactive experience that supports and strengthens their aim as a brand. And last season, Arsenal FC became the first Premier League club to launch an Amazon Alexa Skill, giving supporters access to real-time match stats and commentary to bring the match day experience to the home.
In addition to the overall concept of a skill, the copy featured within it also provides the opportunity for brands to make their mark – and increasing numbers of businesses are building a conversation that's unique to their style. Just Eat uses the tagline 'you've just ordered like a boss' on completion of an order; Ocado respond to consumers with 'okie dokie', an affirmation very much in line with their cosy, middle-class image; and Dominos tell customers to 'put an end to pizza panic' in a move that directly correlates to their campaign. When the actual speaking voice is fixed, illustrating tone is all the more important – so examples like these are vital in asserting identity into a skill. And as a branding feature that can be easily applied to audio, the strapline is set to take on even greater significance.
The current voice monopoly of the smart speaker presents a clear drawback. But with audio branding, a company is matched with their perfect voice artist – maintaining the clear brand identity through distinct vocal qualities. Combine this with stylistic copywriting to showcase the tone, and an exclusive track that injects further emotional identity, and you have a medium that ticks every box to represent brand personality in the most powerful way. The result is the most effective marketing tool of all - a sound that consolidates identity and drives profitability.