Sonic Branding in the Enterprise - Audrey Arbeeny, CEO, Audiobrain - Project Voice X
This is the transcript for the session “What’s Next for AI in the Contact Center” presented by Audrey Arbeeny, CEO of Audiobrain, presented on day one of Project Voice X.
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[Audrey Arbeeny:] Can you all hear me? I think without the mic, being a very loud New Yorker, I could have probably done this without this. But thanks to the two presenters before me. I’m so inspired by what they had to say. And I’ll get into what I have to say here, but I’m gonna… I’m just gonna take a second. I wanna just make sure I check my time, and I would sit… tell you a very, very quick story just to bring a little levity to this. I was on Twenty Thousand Hertz. And I don’t know if you know that podcast, but it’s a real… it’s my favorite podcast. And it was on Domestic Symphony, and it was about sounds and the things we hear in in everyday life, and they do wonderful storytelling. A teacher from Montessori heard it, and I got many emails and many LinkedIn messages about that particular episode. So the Montessori teacher said, I find this fascinating, and I think my students would love to hear what you do. And I said, ok. Definitely. Absolutely. I’m all for education. And she said they’re second and third graders. And I said, ok. So we’ll we’ll do that. We’ll do that. My youngest students ever. And when I did the presentation the other day, the the first question they said was what’s… ’cause they listen to the the podcast. They said, what’s psychoacoustics? And I sat there, and I said, this is the future. These are second and third graders, and it’s very inspiring where all this is going. And I’ve been doing this for twenty five years, and I’ve had Audiobrain, which is a sonic branding firm, for eighteen. So I’ve seen the progression in everything that’s going on, and I saw the progression tremendously three years ago. And, Henry, every time I see you, I just like… your work amazes me. But what’s been going on in the past year is just beyond my comprehension as somebody who supplies music, sound, voice, and vibration. So I wanna just bring them into the equation, because we bring in a very big emotional context to the equation of using these technology. And I do believe that we can bring more empathy, and we we have the technology. Sorry. We have the technology, but I think that we need a little bit more of the emotion, and it it is coming, and it is coming pretty quickly.
And so I wanna talk to you about the enterprise and what’s going on right now. It’s really changed a lot in the past few years, and they’re embracing intentional audio at a level that I have not seen before in twenty five years in the past year. So what sonic branding is, it’s an art, and it’s a science of creating a strategic development and deployment of consistent authentic sound. So if you’re working on AI or you’re working on a voice for something, a call center, there may be music underneath it, or there may be sounds within the product that you’re doing a voice for. They need to be consistent. They need to be within the framework of the enterprise or what it is that you’re working on, and that’s what we do. We do a lot of research, and we do a lot of testing. We do a lot of discovery, and we work on technology side. We do surgical robotics, and we could do something, you know, like YouTube Kids. So we work in every single industry. The passion point is science and health for me, personally. But we need to tie these things together because sonic branding is music, sound, voice, and vibration.
So when you’re working on your projects, you’re working on many of you on voice. We were complimentary because it has to be an ecosystem, and it has to make sense, and it has to work together in order for it to be effective. And the brands and the enterprise that are highly successful do know this. So once upon a time, little me starting in the industry. It was mostly a logo or jingle. That’s what sonic branding was about. I did work with IBM, and IBM did sounds for the ThinkPad and educational videos, executive walk-ons, what the brand was all about, and that was twenty years ago at least. So I’d love to speak to Lenovo people later on. So this is about where we were, but really smart brands, like Disney or HBO, they were doing sonic branding. And they… that’s why they’re still incredibly effective. Then we’ve rolled out to this, and we started doing on-hold music and network identities and things of that nature. Well, this is where… and I could have made four of these.
This is the landscape now. These are the opportunities for your voice. This is the opportunity for our sound, and this is the opportunity for a unified communication that strengthens these brands and strengthens the companies and brings us all opportunities to bring high technology with human characteristics of emotion and to leverage it across a lot of different touch points.
So when we all do things separately, and I do one thing, and you do another thing, and then we put them together, sometimes, they don’t really work together. They… they’re taking a different point of view because they’re not being done through the same brand lens. The top enterprise companies know this. They set the framework. We set the framework, and we’re the compass for what the sound of of the brand is gonna be like, which also includes what the right voice persona is, what the right localization is. And we then set that framework, and sometimes, we’re not the ones to do that. A lot of that could be done by you. And we would call upon our various partners or people that we need here that I would call in a second. We have clients that want synthetic voices. We want clients that want proprietary voices, and we have a lot of things going on, tremendous amounts. So that’s what I wanna get into. But when we all do it all scattered, it doesn’t make for that holistic experience that really resonates with the customer. I’m gonna go a little bit faster here. So these are the trends that we’re seeing from our end as sonic branding people.
Ok. So there’s large scale efforts going across entire organizations. Before, there were some companies that did what I just showed you. But now so many companies are calling to go across multiple touch points very quickly. I’ve never seen anything like this. We have people that are coming in with proposals that have, you know, maybe, like, fifty different items that they want done for the brand. Before, they would come in. And some would do that, but most would start and iterate and… which we do, but would build it. But another trend I see is that they were acquiring an investor… investing or partnering with voice, sound, and technology companies. So they will buy a company, and you saw the the Nuance before, but there’s many others out there that are being acquired very, very quickly because these enterprise companies know that this is where the future is. The future is about sound. The future is about voice. We’re seeing more c-suite and top players coming to the table with their teams, so the companies themselves are working as unified units where we might get brought in in the past by the product developer or the marketing director or the design director. Now, internally, they’re working as cohesive teams because one is interacting with the other, and they’re working on initiatives that, you know, involve a lot of different touch points. So we see a lot of emerging patterns regarding social audio, smart speakers, sponsorships. They want visibility in the industry. We see people that used to be guests on podcasts now having their own podcast. So their company’s having their own podcast who are having many podcasts. And we see several enterprises working together. Because different capabilities when combined, some of this is so large that we need the different capabilities, and we need to be sitting at the same table, and we need to work as a unit, whereas before, that never really happened years ago ever. Like, it was almost in a way a little bit competitive, but now we we bring it altogether. And every industry is looking at sonic branding.
Here’s some different things that just have gone on pretty recently. So you have the Sharjah Airport. They launched their new sonic branding. It was a very, very large initiative. TikTok reveals six certified sonic sound partners, ok, that they’ve selected to lead their sonic initiatives. And so I spoke to a lot of different experts in the field, and and I’m like, what makes, you know, what makes a great enterprise? What makes success? And this is where we landed, and it’s about bringing consistency. So when you have consistency and your call center doesn’t sound different than your events, which don’t sound different than your your speakers and your products that have sounds in them or voices in them, that’s really important. Differentiation. Differentiation is really important because you wanna be at the top of the pyramid. You want to be known for something, something that differentiates you from anyone else. You want… they they want an emotional connection, and that’s really, really important. And customers want ’em, an emotional connection, because we live in a very digital world. You wanna be identified quickly. And brand alignment, and that’s why so many people are coming to the table, and comprehensive, well-thought-out, well-planned, good strategy to act upon, and trust. And trust is is gigantic because without trust, when a brand is inconsistent or what we’re creating is inconsistent, the consumer understands that, and they can move on. So I really… I’ve I’ve been the music supervisor for ten Olympic broadcast for NBC. I wanted to get to number ten so badly, and it took a very, very, very long time. There’s trust there. There’s trust in in their brand, but there’s trust between us and them for that relationship to go on that long. And that’s what you wanna do. You wanna make sure that you’re the trusted partner, and you wanna make sure that the enterprise is trusted by the customer. So why should you care about this?
Well, we are in voice-first, sound-first experiential world, and it’s been said a few times today. If you’re… if you don’t get on board, you’re going to be left behind. This is for real. This is moving… as somebody had said before about the industrial age, and this is is moving at rapid pace. And you need to keep up with it, not just what you’re doing, but what other people are doing, because this is where the future is. And many people are coming in with, like I said, with these full sonic strategies. For my company, this has risen three hundred percent this year where they’re coming in with large initiatives, and, I mean, from around the world. And thirty percent of these companies were companies that we gave proposals to three years ago and, you know, wanted to work with, and they didn’t do it. They’re all doing it now. Everybody… or or a lot of companies are beginning to realize they really need to get on board with this, and that’s why we collaborate. So why now? First of all, it’s technology. We all know that. Now who would wanna hear a sound like that? That’s how sounds used to sound. Or my neighbor with GarageBand can do better than that.
Customers have a choice, and they could go anywhere they want. So they they can hear you on so many different devices and through so many different vehicles that you wanna make sure that you’re consistent, and, again, to bridge that emotional connection. So when we choose voices, when we work on these brands, we wanna make sure that the consumer… it’s all about emotion, and it’s all about getting them to feel confident in you and and confident in the work that you’re doing. So here’s, well, something that we did for Whirlpool, and Whirlpool is the caregiver. And the sound you just heard was their old sound, and this is the new sound. And it’s about the human touch, and it’s about, you know, giving care and the joy of taking care of one’s family. I’ll lower this a little bit. Kinda loud. The next thing that’s important is to make sure that people know what you’re doing so that they come to you. And what happened with the Whirlpool sounds, because they were so pleasing and so different, they got tremendous press out of it. And from there, it led to several of those initiatives that we’re doing multi-touch points for. And we will be doing synthetic voice. We will be doing different things within a lot of the clients that we work with. For Holland America, we did a global experience design. When we started with them, we would go to the… by… you know, did an assessment, and this beautiful ship was left to the complaining customer, the bartender, or the hotel manager. That’s who made the determination on what music played. We not only took the brand and took a a hard look at it, but we assessed what the… with them what the brand stood for. We did many different touch points. So we did things like… and we’ll see if these work. Brad… Bradley and I, we were having some fun with these earlier today. And if they don’t, I’m just moving on. So now we’re doing sound and stories for all the destinations. This is the one that’s been giving us the most problems.
[SPEAKER 2:] Welcome on board. For your safety, please remain in your seats while the tender is moving. Do not stand up or leave your seats.
[Audrey Arbeeny:] And all kinds of engagements. And as voice becomes more conversational, we’ll be able to do these.
[SPEAKER 3:] — and recommending wines.
[Audrey Arbeeny:] — AI, and we won’t have to go back to those talents and rerecord and rerecord and rerecord.
[SPEAKER 3:] — law specifying the geographic location that a particular —
[Audrey Arbeeny:] We did co-branding. Oprah is… has co-branding ships for particular cruises. So we did that, and a lot of that work, the peripheral work, could have been done with the AI. We do also… did the interactive voice response system, and we have some other features coming out because there’s noise. There’s different things that we need to rectify that the customer wants now. So they might’ve wanted pop, rock, jazz. Now they want meditation. Now they want noise cancellation. There’s a lot of things that we can do in that arena, and it’s been a long relationship. And we saved cost by seventy percent because we set a framework, and then we leveraged it out across an entire fleet. And that’s what a lot of brands are doing. They’re going global. So this is just six tips I have to say is… we’re gonna be working together quite a bit. And the more cohesive we are, and the more we communicate with each other, and the more we bring the right partners in… because our clients are coming into these meetings with twenty, thirty people, and and they want this to be consistent. And they want a custom voice, and they want this. And they want the call center, and they want everything. So as we work as a collective team, I think that we can all bring better outcome to our products, better outcome to the enterprise, better outcome for each other.
So you’ve got brand, marketing, product owners, designers, engineers, gathering info, field studies, understanding what’s going on in the landscape, what are your future plans, what sounds add value. Not everything on that map will apply to your client. But when we do our assessment, we know which ones do and which ones that they can focus on. Iterate. Being fearless doesn’t mean you don’t have fear. Being fearless means that, ok, I have a little fear on this one, but I’m gonna do it anyway. Try things. Try the next thing. Try the next thing. We tried so many different things that we never thought we could do and worked with people and got some pretty successful results from it. And seek those with specific expertise to guide you. This is a big playing field we’re in right now, and we need each other when the opportunity arises to call the right person. And plan for new ventures and new use cases. So in closing, sound is a key element. Music and sound is key. It could warm up artificial intelligence, and it is gonna live side by side. And we convey a lot of personality through music, sound, and voice, and, also, it has a really great return on investment. And that’s pretty much what I have to say. I hope this helped you understand what sonic branding is and where the opportunities are. And I’m gonna do a plug right now. This is my very good friend, Bianca Phillips, who I’m sure a lot of you know of. She’s from Australia. She wrote a book called Making the Digital Health Revolution. She’s an attorney. She was supposed to be speaking at this conference, but she can’t get out of Australia. So I just wanted to point out her book to you. It’s fantastic. She’s brilliant, and I’m really proud to call her my friend. So we’ll all work together, and we’ll bring this where it needs to be, which is the big future. Thank you.
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