Packaging will take on new meaning for brands, expanding from visuals into sound. Logos and text won’t be enough in a voicefirst world.

In the next couple years, the visual look and feel of a brand will not be enough to compete. Packaging will be more sensory and holistic. It will feature sound. Marketers will compete for mindshare and attention in a new way: beyond the screen, in the air.

Visual Packaging

Brands have spent billions on visual identities. For marketers, zeroing in on the ideal look for our brand has been paramount. We’ve rebranded and focus grouped or crowdsourced new logos or containers, meeting with delight or vitriol (everyone’s outraged these days). We’ve designed and tested retail packaging with great attention. Smart brands have realized that the packaging that helps you compete when placed next to a competitor on a shelf is often overkill for ecommerce packaging. Similarly, sonic packaging must be approached as a different animal for a customer at a different point in the funnel.

The impulse to buy operates on fundamental human instincts. It’s ultimately simple and deeply rooted in the brain. Help customers avoid loss to survive (best) or achieve gains to thrive (still good).

Let’s talk about packaging. As voice becomes more prominent as the way in which we interact with machines, a brand’s package will need to be increasingly sonic. This goes beyond your audio logo or the person you hire to be the voice of your brand. Just as users scan a website and have an emotional response within milliseconds, we process audio even faster than visuals. Sound moves through our brains faster than any other sense – it is our first sense.

We process sounds in 0.05 seconds. That is ten times faster than the blink of an eye.

You are reading this right now but if you were listening to my voice, you would perceive richer meaning and you’d process it faster and more naturally. All of this is to say that your sonic brand packaging will require great creativity and care. The sound of your brand will be instantly judged on a level that humans are hardwired to process fast.

If you thought marketing became more challenging in the last decade due to competition for attention on multiple screens with flying newsfeeds and short attention spans, wait until we begin to compute more with voice and less with hands.

iphone social media busy city

We will shift away from the manipulative, ad-supported revenue models that social media companies (including this platform) have relied upon with unwitting users’ data as the product. People are tired of shrouded privacy policies.

Hear my 15-minute podcast about the changes we can expect from social giants like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 

Engaging customers will require more creativity and true brand strategy as voice takes precedence.

And voice will take precedence. Smart speakers are the fastest growing consumer technology since the smartphone. In 2018, voice purchases increased 3x on Alexa over last holiday season. Voice assistants are 1.0 today. Just wait. They’ll get smarter, more anticipatory, and more contextual in a way that a screen just can’t. Until now we’ve been computing in computerese, as Brian Roemmele put it. Typing is not natural or easy for us. Our brains are lazy by design – we gravitate toward ease of use. Your customers want hassle reduction and less friction. Meet them there, and start now.

In a voicefirst world, tactics won’t be enough. It will be harder to trick clicks because we won’t be clicking so much. Deeper strategy including true assistance will make the difference.

“Join the conversation” will become literal

“Personalized” and “intimate” will take on a whole new meaning when we go beyond passive visual consumption and start having a literal conversation. Tap, type, and swipe will become talk, listen, and solve.

The Alexa Conference:

I’ll talk more about this at The Alexa Conference, January 15-17, 2019. It’s one of the top #voicefirst events and it’s for marketers, executives, and developers working in voice. There are limited tickets remaining (get 20% off with my promo code: ALEXASPKR203).

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