By 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse

Ex Machina (Credit: Universal Pictures International)

Ex Machina (Credit: Universal Pictures International)

Written by Daniël Schotsborg

It is our prediction that within the next decade voice-controlled conversational interfaces will be the standard. This means that a brand and especially a new brand, should think just as hard on its sonic identity as it does on its visual identity.

The most important elements that need to be taken into account when designing your brand bot are the sound and the way it responds, they have to be flawlessly derived from your brand's values.

What are conversational interfaces?

Currently mobile users have on average 33 apps installed on their phones, but 80% of their activity is limited to just 3 apps: WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and an internet browser. It is even so that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have both around 1 billion daily active users (KPCB) and what these two apps have in common is that they are both conversational interfaces (CIs).

The interesting takeaway from this insight is that the majority of online users are moving towards CIs as the primary way to interact with each other but also with companies and brands online. As this is becoming the primary way of online interaction it is of the utmost importance for brands to adopt CIs across their touch points and to look at the development of these.

The moment that AI starts to talk back

The next development after chat based CIs such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, is a broader implementation of more and more sophisticated and natural sounding voice-controlled CIs, similar to, but more advanced than Alexa or Siri and tailored to fit the brand's personality. Customers will soon talk to your brand bot in a natural conversational way instead of only text-chatting with it. A brand can in the near future talk back to millions of customers simultaneously, helping them out through natural conversation (Marketing Facts).

The brand's personality reflected in sound

Sound provides an experiential component that gives emotion to the CI. But for this to work well, it is very important that the voice and sound of your brand is as well researched and designed as the visual identity of your brand. Also because the graphical interface will slowly disappear as primary interface and make room for more sonic based interfaces that are controlled by the customer’s voice (Venturebeat).

A sound advice

When designing your brand's voice controlled CI, pay good attention to two main elements: first the sound/timbre, personality, gender, intonation of the voice of the brand - this needs to be derived flawlessly from the brand values and personality. Second, the contents of the conversations, how does your AI brand bot respond to certain questions, in what way and how quickly, for instance.

The technological crystal ball

These technologies will come to maturation within a decade (Forbes). Start with designing your sonic identity today because sound is becoming more and more important in communication in the online world. The last digital revolution was mobile and the next could well be conversational interface, one thing is for sure, it is going to disrupt the industry in still unimaginable ways. 

5 Key takeaways of this article:

1.    Conversational interfaces are the primary way people interact online

2.    After chat based CIs will come voice controlled CIs

3.    We’re moving away from visual and tactile interfaces towards voice/audio controlled interfaces. Making audio equally or maybe even more important than visuals for a brand

4.   There is an art but also a science to determine how your brand should sound

5. Use professional help when designing your brand's sound

Get in touch

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