How Brands Can Translate Their Identity To Voice Assistants

'In this intelligent transformation, what doesn't change is that marketers know their customers better than anyone else,' said Ed Doran, cofounder Cortana, Microsoft.

As adoption of voice-activated intelligent assistants surges, major brands are adapting to accommodate consumers’ increased reliance on voice — and building out skills for the likes of Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Microsoft Cortana.

But understanding how to translate authentic brand identity when — literally — speaking to customers through these new platforms can be a challenge.

“There’s fear about [what happens to] the brand through these channels” said Wally Brill, senior persona designer, Adecco at Google, in a panel at Yext’s ONWARD event entitled Voice Search Changes Everything. “But we can create rich personas that represent the brand through these technologies today.”

Below, major takeaways for brands looking to advance the way they speak to customers through voice assistants.

Know Your Customer — There Is No ‘One Size Fits All’: All marketers need to think about the transformation wrought by the rise of voice-activated intelligent assistants. But there is no “one size fits all” move when it comes to building skills.

“In this [intelligent transformation], what doesn’t change is that marketers know their customers better than anyone else. You know what experience to build, what emotions you want to elicit,” said Ed Doran, cofounder of Cortana, Microsoft. “Maybe your brand is about getting the customer to the experience quickly; it’s about driving discovery. Or maybe it’s more about a transaction — [like] creating the ability to voice order a pizza while driving home, for example.”

Essentially, the idea is to think about what your brand ethos is: What do your consumers actually want to do with your business or product, and how might they accomplish this more easily via voice? That’s what should drive what a brand decides to do.

Adapt Contextually: As data proliferates, there are more opportunities to adapt to customer intent, Doran explained; its about understanding their mood, location, and more — not just understanding what they’re literally asking for.

“If I’m a Seahawks fan, I want to hear that the Seahawks crushed the Titans when I ask for the score, you know?” Doran joked. In other words, all the data a brand has about a user still matters; just as with any type of targeted advertising, marketers have to strive to adapt responses to the customer based on their context.

Deliver Utility: “I think we’ve gotten past the complete fear of ‘big brother is watching me’ with data sharing,” Brill said. “Especially millennials feel that if it serves me, I don’t mind.”

But serving them is the key: No matter what the platform, delivering brand-specific utility in exchange for data not only makes customers comfortable — it keeps them engaged.