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The Role of Brand Voice in Natural Language Interfaces

Brand voice helps organizations bring their personality or unique DNA to life through how they write and speak. When brands successfully activate their voice across touchpoints—from an ad to a job posting to an in-person sales interaction—customers can more easily identify and remember them, and ultimately create meaningful and lasting relationships.

Brand voice has proven to be particularly important for technology brands, as the category moves to a more human and conversational expression. It’s another way to demonstrate ease of usage—for tech brands, an authentically human brand voice can be as powerful as an intuitive interface.

One trend in this humanization of technology experiences is natural language UIs (user interfaces), which are most present today in “intelligent personal assistants” like Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

These “live” dialogues are as personal as brands have gotten to consumers. But we interact with them in a transactional matter; we need information— whether it’s directions or a reminder or an answer—and they supply it, instantly. Despite what the film Her would suggest, we don’t build an emotional connection with these services the way we do with their brands. Apple understands your life and makes it simpler and smarter. Siri tells you where to find the nearest pizzeria.

So while Cortana, Siri, and Google Now will likely continue to evolve to become more intelligent, learning contextual cues and getting to know the user better through their preferences and choices, these services will probably not sound like the brand itself. Siri won’t sound like Steve Jobs, or even like an Apple ad, and that’s okay.

In these situations, when consumers’ needs are functional and information-driven, there’s efficiency in removing the brand and its voice from the equation. The brand gets out of the way—which ultimately makes the experience smarter.


Senior Strategy Consultant
Associate Director, Verbal Identity
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