Phoebe Ohayon

5 principles to help you understand the value of a custom (AI) brand voice.

Why do you need a custom AI voice? Why would you invest in building a unique on-brand voice to enhance your products and services if you can also choose a standard (off-the-shelf) voice?

Most people can see the value of having a custom brand voice. But it rarely happens that everyone within a company is immediately unanimously convinced.

Therefore it’s helpful to have clear arguments ready to share with your team, peers, and boss. Here are 5 principles to help you understand the value of a custom (AI) brand voice:

1. A tailor-made suit fits better; it’s unique and authentic.

Standard (off-the-shelf) voices are not explicitly designed for your brand, products, and services. The speaking style of a standard voice rarely perfectly aligns with your brand’s tone of voice and its identity. This can harm the brand and limit the functionality and performance of products and services.

In terms of functionality, you can outperform standard solutions by focussing on specific use-cases and target audiences. You can train your voice based on speech data that incorporates your brand’s tone of voice, vocabulary, and distinctive structures and patterns in your content. On top of this, you can utilize specific speaking styles that perfectly suit an experience making it more pleasant, straightforward, faster, or convenient.

A unique custom voice designed to signal brand identity and meet customer needs provides better functionality AND authenticity.

A brand is authentic when actions are in alignment with its promise. Using a standard voice that every other company can use isn’t authentic.

2. Non-exclusive means no control, no differentiation, and no authenticity.

Standard voices are not exclusive, meaning everyone can use them. You can’t differentiate, stand out and create unique on-brand experiences. It keeps you from building trust and increasing your brand value.

In addition, using the same voice as another company can be brand-damaging. People might associate your brand with another company’s awful service. Even if your services are great, people might still don’t like the experience because they are biased based on previous experiences. If you are using standard voices, you’re building your brand using assets you can’t control.

3. A voice is a direct representation of your brand.

A custom voice enables a business to manage its brand identity through voice. It’s an exclusive and influential asset you can use to strengthen your brand and consumer interactions.

Managing your brand identity through voice means ensuring your brand is perceived as desired. It also means providing consistency at each touch point. How?

  • Leverage the recognizability of your voice to enhance recall and raise brand awareness. A voice is recognizable because it appeals to a human sense that is directly tight to the association: We can process the sound of a voice and connect meaning to it. Over time, this enables consumers to associate your voice with your brand and experience familiarity.
  • Leverage the evocativeness of your voice and make it easy for consumers to trust and feel positive about your brand. Not only can we connect meaning to the sound of a voice, as explained above, but we can also instinctively and intuitively distinguish feelings and emotion from the sound of a voice and its speaking style. We can signal on-brand personality, mood, and characteristics that consumers can positively identify with.
  • Leverage your voice its power to influence brand perception. We perceive the world and make judgments based on our personal, cultural, and aesthetic biases. Our experiences and understanding form these biases. As explained above, we connect meaning and emotion to the sound of a voice and its speaking style. Meaning and emotion within a context create our understanding which shapes our opinion. In other words, a voice influences our perception of an experience and our opinion of a brand.

In short, with a custom voice designed to meet your customers’ needs while signaling your authentic brand identity, you build trust and strengthen relationships with consumers.

With all other effective brand assets, a custom brand voice helps you create preference and a top-of-mind status -The reason people choose your brand over another — the reason people choose your products and services instead of other solutions.

4. A custom voice enables flexibility, scalability, and independence.

Imagine you are using a standard (off-the-shelf) voice. It works, and over time, people got used to it. What if the provider of this standard voice decides to remove it? What if the provider of your voice decides to stop offering text-to-speech solutions in your language? What if prices for using this standard voice double?

In short, you’re dependent. You’re independent and have control if you invest in your own voice data to build a custom text-to-speech voice. It gives you the flexibility to build your custom voice wherever suits you best. You are in charge of managing the legal rights needed to use your voice, and you decide the focus and direction for optimization and personalization.

With your own custom voice, It’s easier to add specific capabilities that make your voice’s implementation scalable. For example, you can develop a particular speaking style for various use cases. Different use-cases and target audiences might require different speaking styles, but not necessarily a different voice.

5. Guessing ain’t the norm, take responsibility and strategize.

When designing a custom AI brand voice, your voice must be on-brand. You can guess, or you can research. In some organizations, guessing is the norm. But if you want to create a custom brand voice, here’s my advice — Be the company that can explain why a certain voice is chosen. Think about gender, age, ethnicity, and value diversity. Take responsibility, and don’t just guess. Your actions have consequences, especially if you are an established brand.

Some think choosing a voice to represent your brand is a random and abstract process. It shouldn’t be. You can utilize perceptual research and acoustic analysis to learn and understand how your customers perceive certain voices within a specific context. Make sure your test participants represent a diverse audience and spend enough time synthesizing meaningful hypotheses. A process like this enables you to create a unique voice brand — a system designed to manage your brand’s identity through voice and the act of speaking itself. It provides a custom strategy that ensures consistency and enables you to design effective on-brand voices and speaking styles you can utilize to create great experiences, products, and services.

A strategic, knowledgeable, and data-driven design process enables you to explain precisely why you have made certain choices. You also lay the foundation for a voice branding strategy on which you can build further.

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