Thousands of brands are now making their way to voice-enabled devices. But how can a single brand distinguish itself in this space? A unique voice, that’s specially designed to match a brand’s characteristics, is the way to go. However, specifying requirements for your (first) branded voice is not a task to be completed overnight. It is a process that requires strategic consideration. Read on to find out how to choose a branded voice.
Brands can speak
Large consumer brands are now designing their voice-first strategies and the initial speech adopters are in the marketing field. Their objective is to deploy them to customer touch points like smart speakers, mobile devices, and chatbots. What are the essential ingredients when it comes to custom voice requirements? The first thing we need to know is who is talking.
With the introduction of radio, and later television and internet video, celebrities and (voice) actors started to promote products in commercials, and satisfied customers shared their experience through testimonials. As all these people used their own voice to talk about brands, we now know that more associations were made about the people involved than the brands themselves. The contribution to the brand was elementary cognitive: just information being passed on. That’s because the brand itself didn’t speak.
Times are changing. Nowadays, a brand can actually speak! And customers can also talk to the authentic brand. What’s more, whenever the brand speaks it has an impact on the associations in people’s minds. Identifying the right characteristics for your branded voice is essential.
Digital voices are still based on real human voices
It’s important to know that all digital voices, including those built using the latest Deep Neural Network technology, continue to be based on real human voices. Typically, a trained voice actor reads text aloud from a script for several hours. This voice actor must be skilled at reading in a way that is extremely consistent in terms of volume, pitch range and speed. He or she must articulate carefully but also have a consistently natural, relaxed pronunciation.
Moreover, it is also very important for them to read in an emotionally neutral way but with a prosody that matches the grammar in the sentences they read. These recordings enable the creation of a digital voice capable of reading all texts out loud in a particular language. Defining the characteristics of a custom voice therefore also implicitly defines a set of requirements for a custom voice actor.
Branded voice characteristics
- Humanlike: This might seem an obvious requirement, but the quality on the market today differs extensively. Some demo sentences might sound great but as soon as you are ready to really put your digital voice to the test by making it read your text from your AI chatbot engine, unexpected glitches might surface. As the human ear is extremely sensitive to glitches in voice, any deviation from normal speech will draw attention to the glitch instead of the message itself. Therefore, make sure you have a great test script based on the type of interactions you have planned.
- Clear: You may expect your voice to be used in noisy environments such as bars, clubs and restaurants, in cars, or even in the shower. A crystal clear voice can be an important requirement.
- Distinguishable: Your branded voice should not only be unique, it should also be distinguishable. It needs to be typical to your brand. Simply deciding for a female voice, around 25 years of age certainly won’t make your voice stand out compared to others. You will need to define the specifics that characterize your brand.
- Matching your brand personality: The best practice for standing out is expressing the brand personality you might already have defined for your brand based on principles like Jennifer Aaker’s renowned Five Dimensions of Brand Personality or Carl Jung’s 12 archetypes.
- Future-proof: If your company has a strategy that includes addressing a future audience, you must consider that your voice needs to be suitable for both your current and future customer base. You can of course also deploy a second voice that represents a second brand in your brand portfolio. These are examples of aspects that needs to be considered.
Naturally, this list is an initial indication to help you get started with some awareness of how to choose a branded voice. With over 20 years’ experience in creating synthetic voices, ReadSpeaker has what it takes to assist you in specifying your requirements, so you can be sure to avoid any beginner’s mistakes in this area.
Find out more about how custom branded voices empower brands in a changing world: Get a free copy of our eBook.
ReadSpeaker can help
ReadSpeaker is a global synthetic speech specialist. Having built expertise in humanlike text-to-speech solutions since 1999, we currently use next-generation Deep Neural Network technology in our VoiceLab to deliver the most humanlike synthesized voices on the market to Fortune 500 companies across the world. As a subsidiary of the HOYA Corporation, with offices in 15 countries, and over 10,000 clients in 65 countries, we are recognized as the leading independent text-to-speech company.