Its all gone a bit Contagious once again.


Thoughts Piece

The Most Contagious event is our highlight of the insights and trend calendar. It blows our minds every year and reminds us that you can always go further.

Key pickings from this year include Barbie (don’t be fooled, this is an incredible brand turn around!), Machine Learning (in particular, Cloret mints), the NotCo food company, Blippar in partnership with Max factor, The era of the Choice Apocalypse, a Field Trip to Mars and Lynx redefining Masculinity.

If you follow us on Twitter then you’ll have seen a ton of snippets live from the actual day but here we’re going to share a few key case studies. We’ll upload them over the next few weeks but lets start with this one…

The Tone of Branding

At the turn of the 20th Century, Ray Kurzweil (the incredible computer scientist) predicted that by 2009 people will be able to talk to their computers to give commands. He also predicted 107 more technological advances btw, of which 89 became true! His prediction for 2019 is that we will communicate with computers through two-way speech and gestures instead of a keyboard. You could say this has already started to happen.

Voice recognition interfaces have taken huge leaps forward and are slowly becoming part of our everyday lives. Siri started it for the masses. Now Amazon Echo and Google Home are continuing this movement.

Andy Hood, Head of Emerging Tech at AKQA says “People often see voice purely as an input method. You really need to see voice as the interface”. This becomes clear when you think about the fact that we’re all trying to speed up the pace of life and yet we can only type an average of 40 words per minute vs talking about 150.

Accuracy plays a large part of its success. Todays interfaces are currently sitting at around 95% accuracy. We’ve all had those moments where we’ve asked Siri something relatively simple and ended up having a face off because he can’t understand what on earth your saying.

“At the point where this accuracy shifts to 99%, it will be a game changer” says Mary Meeker at KPCB. This seemingly small shift will be monumental.

So what does this mean for brands and the way we’ll engage with them in the future? It means each and every brand will need to start thinking about how they actually sound. Not just a tone of voice but an actual voice.

But this isn’t necessarily something new but it will be something all brands will need to explore. Think Blind Date, Big Brother, X-Factor, Planet Earth, Go-Compare, Whaze, Google Maps – they all invested in a voice that you instantly recognise as that brand.

Google hired writers from Pixar and The Union to create a more ‘human’ sounding voice for Google Home to build an emotional connection with its users.

Mattel appointed Pullstring to allow girls to talk to Barbie. Overnight Barbie become her own Chatbot with the most sophisticated, scripted, interactive conversational experience ever published. Over 8,000 lines of dialogue and 30 hours of entertainment.

Now, voice communication isn’t always applicable. There will be many occasions when having information fed back to you verbally will not be ideal: banking for one. But as with all technology, there’s a time a place.

What this type of user experience may inadvertently achieve is the humanising of technology. Think about it: No tapping on keyboards or screens, no physical barrier between you and the information you’re receiving and most of all, it sounds like a human.

So just when you thought your brand was complete and you’d got it nailed, along comes the next challenge. To get you thinking, our question to you is this: “If your brand was a celebrity voice, who would it be and why?”.

Leave your voice messaged answers below!

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