Give the gift of headaches

Capitalizing on the latest trends in technology isn’t always favorable.

Image by Cynthia Zhu

Yellies. Lucky for all of us, these voice-activated spider pets, have arrived just in time for the holidays. This new toy by Hasbro uses “voice” to power consumer experience, which seems like a great innovation built on a strong insight and market trends.

It’s just too bad Yellies will power such a terrible consumer experience. Never before has a toy been triggered by yelling or sent into “freak-out mode” by off-the-charts screeching. I’m just happy my kids are too old to engage with these toys.

I could write a whole article about why a product like this could single-handedly triple alcohol consumption of parents with young children after the holiday season.

But I’d rather spend the time talking about Voice — in all its incarnations — screaming included. Voice activation tech is the biggest product innovation this holiday season and as a result, tone of voice and sonic branding will be given much more consideration as this technology grows in prominence.

When considering brand, most people only think about logo, color, typography, and photography. Recently with the ubiquity of Apple’s Siri and the ascent of Amazon’s Alexa, people have developed an appreciation for how important (and ever-present) voice is in today’s new products. The voice of your product and the brand communications associated with it will influence people’s perceptions of your brand and their experience with it.

Technological advances have humanized our computers, phones and yes, even our toys, creating actual companions who respond to our prompts through voice-activation. The gender, the tone, the accent, even the volume level all make us think, feel and behave a certain way.

Voice is not always tied to technology, however. What you say and how you say it in headlines, prose and messaging can be just as powerful. Defining the tone and manner, the do’s and don’ts, even the cadence of your speech in a highly-attuned “listening” culture is critical to building equity and generating brand awareness and affinity.

Hasbro knew this when they developed and marketed Yellies. Being at the forefront doesn’t always mean success and poor brand perception and reviews can sink even the most creative and advanced ideas. So, I might be a bit concerned if I were Hasbro about this one review on Amazon which stated, “A perfect gift for children of parents that you hate.” ‘Nough said.

About the Author | Susan Cantor
Susan Cantor is the CEO at
RedPeak Branding, is a proven agency and client leader with over 20 years of experience in helping companies transform their brands, enter new strategic territories, and launch new offerings. Prior to joining RedPeak in 2015, she served as President and CEO of Lowe Worldwide in New York, and Founder & Chief Executive of brand consultancy CLEARBLUESKY. She has helped some of the world’s most beloved and prominent brands achieve greatness in their categories.