2. Identify whether it would be useful to develop your own brand voice
If having a ‘brand voice’ would be an asset for your products or services, then you need to define the right voice for your brand. Use your brand’s purpose, values and characteristics to develop the right voice for your product or service. You will need to consider the style, tonality and languages to develop and, by extension, any cultural variations based on location.
Voice branding is a whole new design challenge and finding the right party to develop your brand voice is a key step in getting it right. A classic design or branding agency would be the obvious choice, based on skill-sets and DNA, but you could also decide to go with a digital agency or sound-production agency. With the rise of voice-control technology, I would expect that design agencies are working to stay on-top of the trend, although I have yet to see this happening in our global practice. Most agencies appear to still be consumed with the migration of design from print to screen, even though the next big shift – brand voice – has already arrived.
3. Start assessing and ultimately adapt your SEO and organic search strategy
This is likely to be one of your biggest challenges. Only those that appear at the top of these lists will win. It’s very much a “winner takes all” game. As voice search starts to make up a solid percentage of all search volume (it grew from zero to 10% in 2016), businesses will need to work on adapting their organic and paid search strategies to match how consumers are changing the way they look for information, products and services online.
4. Focus on the right keywords and phrases and consider how your consumers will be talking to their devices
In theory, voice search works the same way as typed search, but it is more complex. It goes a bit further than just keywords by having a level of understanding of context, meaning, and the way that people speak. It takes the whole phrase into consideration, as well as the user’s location, past searches and preferences and will then come up with completely tailor-made, natural sounding responses. This means that any content should include key ‘natural’ phrases” to be considered by voice search engines.
Are the big tech companies changing the rules of the game?
In recent years, we have worked hard to build a solid understanding of design for websites and apps, resulting in a much improved UX and UI knowledge throughout the industry. But, all of this knowledge is based on using a screen to interact with human beings. Now, it’s all about discovering the best ways to use voice to interact with consumers – and the race is on. The big tech companies are already present in our homes and their devices are increasingly becoming a more mainstream part of life. So, how do brands use these existing devices, and play along with the “rules” set by the big tech companies, to reach their target consumers?
What does all this mean?
There’s no doubt that voice-controlled devices will radically change customer journeys. As a brand owner, my recommendation would be to begin assessing your brand journey for the impact of voice-controlled devices as soon as possible. For some brand owners it could already be too late. My prediction is that, while it’s still relatively early days, we will see the following developments:
– Increased importance of branding to create awareness and influence consumer preferences
– Decreased importance of point-of-sale conversion
– Increased importance in the delivery process, packaging and customer experience to create truly memorable experiences
Lastly, if my initial observations in this space are correct, I would predict that there is a promising future for the best-branded products and services and for the best-priced. Any brand positioned in-between will struggle to survive!
I’d like to hear your thoughts about this subject, as I don’t see many brand owners that are ahead of the game in this space – yet. Well, except for the big tech companies, of course.