What’s the cost of ignoring voice?

2018 will likely become the year in which voice technology will permeate most aspects of our everyday life: from shopping to entertainment, from the kitchen and the livingroom to the car. There are a lot of occasions when voice technology can make things easier, faster and more natural for people to interact with their devices.

How brands can take the opportunity

When you are a brand manager or work in marketing today there are some key questions that you have to ask yourself. Take the first one not from us, but from Scott Galloway. He addresses this one in his talk at OMR Festival 2018:

1.) What is the COI (cost of ignoring) Voice?

Let’s look at some numbers as a reference point for that. Today 25% of all search queries according to Google and Bing are already voice-based *

And it’s likely that this number will rise to 50% in 2020.

So what about money? Let’s look at an estimated revenue number from amazon echo alone:

So Scott Galloway prediction seems totally valid and therefore let’s rephrase it into something actionable:

How will your brand be present in your customer’s life via Voice? And how will your brand establish brand recognition, when there is no way of establishing it with visual forms of branding? Which brings us to key question number two:

2.) Do you know what your brand sounds like?

With their eyes closed your customers should be able to identiy which brand they are interacting with. We get it: it’s hard to wrap your head around a technology that is lacking a visual component. Identifying brands by seeing visual markers has been a fundamental approach for creating brand recognition for the last 5 decades. But if you think about voice with most voice assistants there is simply no visual component in the interface. So you have to think about what your customers will perceive and notice when your brand is only heard.

Luckily there are ways to make your brand noticed, recognized and recalled with sound: sound logos, sonic mnemonics and yes even your own recorded brand voice. It’s entirely possible to integrate pre recorded audio files into today’s voice assistants: That means if you have audible brand elements like a sound logo or a unique brand voice (yes a human one) it’s possible to create brand recognition in your voice assistants. From little sounds that support the interactions like UI sounds or earcons (which are audio icons) to a unique soundlogo when leaving the skill. Check out how we helped brands like Gorenje and the Common Wealth Bank find their unique brandsound.


Still, all the right branding will not pull people in your experience. Apart form thinking about branding you have to have a approach for answering question number three:

3.) What is your brand’s Voice User Interface?

Think of creating Voice experiences that way: it’s an app for the voice assistant. Just like with an app for your smartphone your brand is free to create apps for the voice platforms of Alexa, Google and so on. While amazon and Google provide the framework it’s by no means set in stone what path the conversations follows or in what tone of voice the conversation will take place: from the exact words your skill uses to the way and tone of voice the skill is interacting with your customers: these are all choices that you will have to make. A great example for that is Ask Stubb, check it out here:

And so you should for good reason: This is the part that you have influence on and that is how you control your brand’s perception. This is where you make it your brand’s unique experience, your Voice User Interface. Are you more down to earth or more sophisticated in your choice of words? Is your brand known for speed, then use short sentences and leave out details. You can’t change Alexa’s voice, at least not for the moment. But you can take the effort to create a voice user interface that makes the interaction with your brand easier, faster or more natural and also creates an experience that customers will likely remember.

If you are interested in creating your brand’s Voice experience or finding the right sound for your brand, we are happy to help. A good starting point is a workshop where you will get a voice and sound opportunity assessment. Reach out any time, we are happy to talk…