Branding Your Chatbot for the Right Audience

Branding Your Chatbot for the Right Audience

Chatbots for marketers, brands, and companies provide a fast and efficient response to a range of questions about a service or product. In most markets, however, consumers remain unsure or cautious. To that end, careful branding is required to get the right message across, and give your bot the right voice.

Small Names for Big Voices

The most popular names for leading bots are all short, vowel-led with soft-sounding tones. Around the world, The US Citizenship and Immigration Service uses “Emma” to provide services while India’s HDFC Bank’s has gone with “Eva.”

Bot creators are happy to be creative with names and work in acronyms. The City of San Francisco’s “PAIGE” (Procurement Answers and Information Guided Experience) helps provide workers with contract information. India’s national railway’s new bot is called “Disha” (Digital Interaction to Seek Help Anytime), a strong girl’s name meaning direction.

Closer to home, Ted Baker’s fashion brand plays with a traditional name, going with the promise of its “Seemore” assistant to expand the customer’s view. Lidl has gone with “Margot” as its wine bot to recommend the best bottle for any particular food choice. Having fun with the bot’s name is just part of creating a bot that fits a brand, character or business.

All of these try to create a memorable, accessible experience and there’s no complexity or sign of technology here, just a welcoming character to help customers on their day.

The Best Names are Simple Ones

When creating the bot, focusing on the name should be top of the list of priorities. Without a name, a bot is faceless to its creators and developers. Give it a name and people can start to relate.

Once the name is decided, the character of the bot should also be fleshed out. Is the bot businesslike, friendly, capable of having a laugh with users? Does it need to be short-and-sharp in conversation, or does it need to help build some rapport? All of these decisions can help inform the design and chat language that the bot will use to communicate.

With all that done, bot creators can craft the script, answer the user questions in the right way and provide information with the right tone of voice. Before building a bot, checking out how brands and rivals use theirs is a good way to gain insight into how the process works.

Most bots appear on a company website or social media like Facebook Messenger, it is here that the name will appear to users, so it has to stand out and grab attention, in a non-showy way for most companies. Having a logo for the bot can help make it stand out, whether it is pinging patiently away on the front page of a website, or waiting to spring into action on Facebook Messenger.

Branding Your Bot

Many existing branding strategies can be applied to bots. Some bots will be an extension of an established brand or business identity, they can follow the form and style of any existing language.

For all-new bots or those representing a particular product, they can take the guise of a fan, for example if promoting a new car or toy range. Informational bots can act the part of a professorial advocate or perhaps a detective on the case of solving problems. They give creators the opportunity to try out different roles until the one that fits best and wins over customers shines through.

Getting Your Bot’s Message Out There

People won’t get to know your bot until they start using it. So, building awareness is key. Many firms announce their bot with a press release, perhaps a blog post, but then take no action to drive interest and engagement.

Some companies go all out and replace their help or contact services with the bot on launch, ensuring people have to engage. That can be fine if your company has experience and mastery of bot building, but a touch extreme for first efforts.

Instead, you can build interest by tell your customers that the bot is in development. Perhaps running a limited beta test to show keen users what it can do. They might help suggest flaws in the script or answers, and what features you might add in the future. Take time to explain how it works, as many people are still unfamiliar with bots.

Most businesses have an app, social media and other ways to promote the bot. Build or link the chatbot into each of those services to give it the broadest possible footprint. Regularly mention it in tweets or posts, both about the bot and the benefits it provides. Promoting it among your trade or market will also help spread the word.

Be sure to solicit feedback and suggestions from customers about improvements that would help them use the bot or get better results from it. Consider the first few months of any bot’s life an engagement exercise to gain knowledge and feedback.

After the bot has launched, focus on refining the existing script and language, and adding new ones to make the bot more valuable. Add features that create extra benefits and expand the bot to new channels.

Avoid building your bot and putting at the periphery of the company’s customer-facing presence. The bot is a part of your company’s future and should be proudly displayed as such, marking your brand as forward-thinking, in touch with customers and promoting all the benefits of the bot, from the simple like 24/7 accessibility to any deeper AI features it uses, but explained in plain English.

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Chris Knight

Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.

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