Amazon’s AWS is offering a new ‘Brand Voice’ capability to companies which enables them to create their own custom voice for Alexa that replaces the default voice with one that reflects their “persona”, such as the voice of Colonel Sanders for KFC.
The capability is being offered through Amazon’s ‘Brand Polly’, the cloud service by Amazon Web Services (AWS), that converts text into lifelike speech. The name ‘Polly’ is a reference to parrots which are well-known for being able to mimic human voices.
Amazon says that companies can work with the Amazon Polly team of AI research scientists and linguists to build an exclusive, high-quality, Neural Text-to-Speech (NTTS) voice that will represent the “persona” of a brand.
According to Amazon, the ‘Brand Voice’ will give companies another way to differentiate their brand by incorporating a unique vocal identity into their products and services. Hearing the ‘Brand Voice’ of a company is also another way to help create an experience for customers that strengthen the brand, triggers the brand messages and attitudes that a customer has already assimilated through advertising, and helps to provide another element of consistency to brand messages, communications and interactions.
The capability involves using deep learning technology that can learn the intonation patterns of natural speech data and reproduce from that a voice in a similar style or tone. For example, in September, Alexa users were given the option to use the voice of Samuel L. Jackson for their Alexa and in order to produce the voice, the NTTS models were ‘trained’ using hours of recorded dialogue rather than the actor being required to read new dialogue for the system.
Amazon Polly says on its website that it has already been working with Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) Canada (for a Colonel Sanders-style brand voice) and with National Australia Bank (NAB), using “the same deep learning technology that powers the voice of Alexa”.
The ‘Brand Voice’ created for companies can, for example, be used for call centre systems (as with NAB).
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
The almost inevitable ‘Brand Voice’ move sees Amazon taking another step to monetizing Alexa and moving more into the business market where there is huge potential for modifications and different targeted and customised versions of Alexa and digital assistants. Back in April last year, for example, Amazon launched its Alexa for Business Blueprints, which is a platform that enables businesses to make their own Alexa-powered applications for their organisation and incorporate their own customised, private ‘skills’. The announcement of ‘Brand Voice’, therefore, is really an extension of this programme. For businesses and organisations, Alexa for Business and ‘Brand Voice’ offers the opportunity to relatively easily customise some powerful, flexible technology in a way that can closely meet their individual needs, and provide a new marketing and communications tool that can add value in a unique way.