How Brands are Using Voice Recognition Technology to Improve Comms

Since Apple first introduced us to its virtual assistant Siri in 2011, the voice recognition tech industry has been flooded with competition. From Amazon’s Alexa, to Microsoft’s Cortana, virtual assistants have popped up everywhere. Using sophisticated speech recognition technology, they’re able to recognise and respond to all sorts of requests, from streaming live music, to adjusting the temperature in your home.

Research by Google found that 41% of adults use voice search technology at least once a day. And it’s no surprise. The technology is easy to use and super convenient, as it enables us to multitask. In other words, we’re now able to engage with technology without having to sit in front of a computer screen.

Love it or hate it, voice search is here to stay, so it’s something comms and marketing teams need to get their heads around. To get you inspired, here’s how some of the big brands are jumping on the trend to improve their communication with consumers.

Johnnie Walker

Whisky giant, Johnnie Walker, announced a collaboration with Amazon’s Alexa in 2016 to create an app that guides people through personalised tastings, recommends blends, shares anecdotes from the Johnnie Walker history, provides practical whisky tips and recommends unique cocktail recipes, which can be downloaded in the Amazon app to recreate at home.

A key feature of the app is that it helps users find the right whisky. Alexa asks the user a series of questions about their preferences, and the tool recommends the Johnny Walker product that’s best suited to their tastes. In addition, it has a guided tasting feature and offers whisky trivia for those that are interested.

The app dives deep into the world of whisky in a fun and engaging way through recommendations of blends, practical whisky tips and more, just by using your voice.  By using voice search technology, the brand has found a unique way to create a personalised experience for consumers.


The weekly food shop got a whole lot easier last year, thanks to leading British online supermarket, Ocado. The popular brand became the first UK supermarket to release an Alexa app, which enables customers to use voice commands to add and remove items from their orders, ask for updates on their order status, and find out what products are in season.

And it’s hugely improved the user experience. Previously, if a customer ran out of cheese and needed to add some to their order, they would have to log on to the Ocado website, find the product they wanted, and actively add it. Now it’s as simple as saying ‘Alexa, ask Ocado to add cheddar to my trolley.’

The app is also great for the visually impaired, as it makes online shopping accessible. This is a handy USP to attract media attention. If you can create an app that’s useful for the masses, and offers a solution to a real problem, you’re on to a winner.

Time Out

Time Out is a city guide service that publishes magazines and guidebooks that cover events and attractions all around the world. They already have a website. But Time Out recognised the potential that voice technology has to provide users with a more convenient experience while also expanding the reach of their brand. So, they introduced an app to helps users find things to do in different cities by merely asking. In fact, the app includes a daily briefing that gives users the top three things to do in the city that day. Alternatively, the user can ask for a flash briefing that will provide suggestions at any given moment.

The unique thing about this app is that users can engage in a two-way conversation. Time Out worked closely with Google to design a conversation that can address users’ expectations in different contexts. The smart design is built on Google’s Dialogflow, which uses machine learning and natural language processing to understand voice and conversational input in a natural way. And Time Out thought carefully about their brand voice, deciding that it should sound like ‘your best friend in the city who knows what’s going on, rather than a dumb robot,’ making it a desirable companion for Time Out readers who are on their travels.

The take away

2018 has been labelled by some as ‘the year of the smart home’. Driven by the adoption of Google Home and Amazon Echo, voice recognition technology is starting to transform not only the way we interact with brands online, but the way we communicate. So, it’s time to find your voice, before you get left behind.

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