Brand recognition hinges on existing identity and experiences being well-translated across modalities of engagement. Voice is no different. It’s time to get started.
Companies are becoming increasingly aware of the impact voice can have on a brand. Whether you choose to create content now, or years down the line, it will have a big impact on your brand recognition. The businesses we’ve worked with – from McDonald’s to Sony, Amazon to Finish – understood that, and they’re reaping the rewards now.
But it’s not enough to merely adapt existing content. Successful brands of tomorrow will:
- leverage the power of audio experiences beyond spoken text
- ensure the story they’re telling with Voice aligns with that experienced through other mediums
- research before creating, to have confidence in the fact that consumers are looking for content
All of this speaks to a successful content strategy – so let’s get into that.
WHAT IS A CONTENT STRATEGY?
A content strategy is a clear plan for the creation and delivery of useful, effective material. It unifies experiences across all of a brand’s channels – whether online or ‘traditional’ – while allowing for (and even leveraging) the differences between those channels.
A clear content strategy enables a team to deliver the right information at the right time to the right audiences.
BRINGING VOICE INTO CONTENT STRATEGY
Audiences access content across channels, devices, and interfaces. It’s not necessarily that the information they seek changes – but the nature of their interaction often does. This is amplified with Voice, which consumers are using daily but still adapting behaviours to.
Together our team has decades of experience helping brands with their content. The goals of bringing Voice into content strategy aren’t much different to other kinds of experiences:
- to meet user needs
- to consistently extend a brand’s identity
To hit goal one, we need to deliver useful and usable information. Content is useful if it helps a user meet a need or complete a task. Content is usable if it is easily understood and navigated. Given humans often naturally communicate via voice, the possibilities for creating useful and usable audio experiences are huge.
Hitting goal two revolves around the methods by which we deliver information. We want someone experiencing your Voice Skill for the first time to feel that it naturally aligns with content of yours they’ve experienced elsewhere (for example, on your website, social media channels, newsletters, and events). A tone that jars with content elsewhere will only undermine brand recognition.
These are important considerations as the use of voice technology in the enterprise continues to grow.
INTEGRATING VOICE WITH CONTENT STRATEGY
The first step we take with a brand that has yet to engage with any Voice experiences is to content map.
We usually approach this in three main stages:
- inventory – catalogue all of the available content
- audit – assess content quality
- language and ontology study – categorise content and its wording
The outcome is a set of baseline information from which we identify the most compelling use cases for Voice. We identify ‘top tasks’ – the questions audiences have – and map those onto content already published or in creation to find how an organisation can prioritise its efforts.
Bringing this to life might look like:
- developing an Amazon Alexa Skill which fills a specific gap in your customer journey (perhaps research or transaction)
- optimising web content to ensure key information can be accessed by voice search (VSEO)
- a plan for engaging with conversational spaces (scripts, podcasts, social audio spaces)
Using the content map, we help brands to weave the story they want to tell into the cloth of a voice experience, using language as the thread.
THE IMPORTANCE OF GOVERNANCE WITHIN CONTENT STRATEGY
Voice isn’t fully integrated with a company’s content strategy until clear governance is set out.
This begins with creating clear guidelines for future content creation. This is key for consistency, helping future efforts align with current content, and is especially important when multiple content creators are involved. It also identifies decision-makers, so when questions arise, they can be resolved quickly and confidently.
It’s tempting to find the idea of governance as restrictive – especially if you’re a natural creative. However, in our experience, clear guidelines empower teams and allow creativity to truly prosper. They remove unnecessary ambiguity, so clear and delightful content can be quicker and easier to create.
You’ll likely have come across governance for written content in ‘Tone of Voice’ or ‘Style’ guides. Voice content is no exception. Guidance for voice sets out important standards, such as:
- expression of brand personality
- word and phrase choice
- expectations for inclusive language
- ways to ensure accessibility
BRANDING VOICE – WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE
We know that branding guides content (through tone and the method by which information is delivered). But Voice breaks a new barrier for many organisations: by necessity, it evolves tone from figurative terms to literal ones. What does your brand actually sound like?
It’s important to tread carefully when adding Voice to a long-established brand. Consumers often have preconceived ideas about what a brand sounds like to them, so throwing out any old audio experience will alienate some people. This is why we often begin with a complementary approach: adding Voice to a space your brand already exists, like your website.
Regardless of the direction a company chooses to take Voice, it’s imperative that branding doesn’t get in the way of a user being able to either accomplish a task, or access the information they need.
There’s no doubt about it: from assistants on our phones to smart speakers in our homes, Voice technology is here to stay. We live in a multi-channel world – and expect unified experiences. Content strategy applies branding basics to make that unity possible.
To take a closer look at what businesses are using voice for, check out our case studies.