Technological trends come and go, but I am convinced that the voice is here to stay. Consumers continue to adopt voice technology as a means to interact with their devices, with information, with content, with the Internet … By 2021, Ovum points out that there will be almost as many voice-activated attendees on the planet as there are people.
Mobile phones took about 30 years to overtake humans. Alexa, Google Assistant and their colleagues can arrive in less than half of that time. The adoption rate of smart speakers is predicted to be much faster than that of radio, television, internet or smartphone.
For his part, Gartner estimates that by 2020, 75% of North American homes will have a voice device. Today, one out of every four searches carried out on Google is done through voice.
Perhaps, a priori, we may think that talking to Alexa or Google Assistant is just a new way of doing what we already do on a screen: buying, catching up on the news, etc. But it’s not that simple. It is not about changing the body parts used to do those tasks: replacing the fingers and eyes with the mouth and ears.
Smart speakers are so much more; they are much more even than search engines; they are engines of action and relationship, since they do not offer a list of results, but they choose one answer from many, the answer that they think you want to know.
However, from a technological point of view, much remains to be done to make the talks coherent; our language is highly ambiguous and requires an understanding of the context of the conversation, the geographical context, etc. These devices will not only be intermediaries, but we will communicate with them, not through them.
In this context, society wants interaction with these artificial assistants to be as human and natural as possible. Google Duplex uses a fundamental aspect of the oral modality such as prosody; in addition to the intonation, the pauses between melodic groups and the accent of intensity, key elements of the human conversation.
In the medium term, voice assistants will detect our emotions. The next natural step after emotion detection, of course, will be emotion production. Once computers have become virtuous in breaking down the emotional components of our discourse, it will only be a matter of time before they can be brought back together into credible actions of, say, empathy.
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How Will Voice Technology Impact Brands?
The brand concept is closely linked to brand positioning, that is, the image that a consumer has in their mind. The positioning of a product depends on the sensations, feelings, perceptions and impressions that the consumer has regarding the product and in comparison to competing products.
From the conventional point of view or, at least, what until now we knew, a brand is a set of images, colours, a name, a logo, a slogan, a series of attributes, values and that generate a positioning, and thus long etcetera, of elements that seek to distinguish the brand, a product or service of a company from that of its competitors. Today, the brand is also the representation of the global experience that a company offers its consumers.
The new voice ecosystem completely removes the foundations of brand building, giving sound the importance it has, although until now very few companies have worked strategically through sonic branding initiatives. However, the impact of sound on the brain can cause a better relationship with audiences, due to the great capacity to generate memories, experiences and emotions.
All brands will need a Voice in Technology strategy (voice marketing, conversational UX, platforms, smart speakers …) that goes far beyond creating an application without value and without judgment. At the same time, all brands will also need a Voice in Content strategy since audio as a format is in a moment of exponential growth.
Brand Strategy In Audio And Voice
Most major brands will need a clear audio and voice strategy, primarily because it will become the primary point of access to content for people from their own homes – because the voice is the format, interface, and content. All companies are very familiar with producing guidelines and guides for strategies on paper, audiovisual or in other formats and points of contact with consumers; however, thinking about how they should sound or speak is something entirely new to marketers. Brands will have to learn to redefine themselves in a whole new dimension.
Smart Speakers, An Opportunity For Brands
It is clear that voice and conversation interfaces offer brands a unique opportunity to meet the changing needs of consumers while maintaining an emotional connection. Consumers are interested in the experiences that brands offer. Organizations need to build their brand voice, where the brand’s personality is maintained while providing a seamless and personalized experience. As voice assistant penetration grows and technology advances, organizations must implement effective strategies to harness this potential. Voice applications allow brands to be ubiquitous and always available, no matter where the customer is: home, car, office …
However, a voice strategy does not just mean developing a voice application, but adding value to your customers and considering all other touchpoints to create a customer experience with a consistent brand message across all touchpoints: from a wedge to the voice of your brand, passing through environments and ecosystems of voice. It is increasingly important for brands to create those same emotional connections through sound. Well worked, the voice can be a powerful extension of a brand and, in the future, it will probably be the first contact in the customer relationship, the key to its new positioning.