Ever marvelled how some digital products seem more approachable, more human or even funny and engaging? When it’s just an interface with text or dialogue what makes the experience stand out as a good one? 

Tone of voice as a brand platform

The crucial differentiator in these cases is how and what the product is talking or presenting the content to the user. How to bring the brand feeling to a AI chat bot or a voice service like Amazon Echo? The brand must be reinterpreted as a tone of voice or apply one if one is already figured out. 

Some brands excel in the offline world with the way the tone of voice being a big part in the brand. One of my all time favourite is Innocent, the company that makes tasty smoothies and juices. On the packaging they make funny jokes and keep it light with a tongue in cheek tone of voice. 

So if innocent would be a chat bot, the transition would be pretty painless since the brand personality is so distinct.

One other great example is Tobias van Schneider’s app Authentic Weather. It trumps all the other weather apps with it’s snarky humorous ways it tells the current weather. The big difference is the tone of voice that makes it special. It seems it has a personality that our twisted sense of humour can connect to.

Why chat bots and digital virtual assistants need a personality?

The explosion in AI powered assistants and chat bots have challenged the UX designers to really make the experiences memorable and not just utilitarian. Apple has given Siri a bunch of jokes and comebacks that define her as a personality and it’s all about the context and tone of voice. The rest is in our imagination. Bots with a personality will connect to us in an emotional level and make us come back to them. 

When creating a bot we humans have to teach the AI to be more human, to reflect the tone of the brand. So it’s more a content creation task than anything else. Let’s keep it in mind that the  visible user interface is going to be replaced by touch and voice even by just text and when we design the next experience we use the tone in the content as a way to make a distinct brand experience.