SpinVox had to find a way of getting its message across without baffling customers with techno-babble. Here James Scroggs, vice president of consumer business explains how.
SpinVox converts voice to content. It quite literally captures spoken moments, converting words into text, so enabling users to post that text to a screen destination of their choice – phone, email inbox, blog, social network and so on – within minutes.
The SpinVox service has proved to be a success – ten million users worldwide and growing fast. But it would have been easy for it to become an enabling -`ingredient` - system without becoming a power brand. That was never the intention.
The brand challenge has always been to make SpinVox compelling and everyday to the person in the street by injecting humanity into a proposition that is potentially scary. To demonstrate that it is empowering, liberating, intuitive and simple. We’ve come a long way, and we’re still on that journey.
When I joined SpinVox a little over a year ago from my job as vp of marketing in the UK and Ireland for MTV and started to think about our visual identity I was determined to avoid being sucked into any techno-babble., I began to think of SpinVox as a ‘digital mouth’…or `e-mouth` – email through your mouth, twisting the familiar. Simply, consider the human voice as energy-in-motion (emotion) rearing up your gullet.
As your mouth emits these airborne waves of energy, they pass through a digital fan, which turns them into ones and zeros. The digital data can then be posted to receptacles. I pictured ‘The Numbskulls’ of Beano fame – boffins in your head processing and guiding your every utterance.
Of course the reality is infinitely more scientific. But, step back from that comic visualisation and the truth is SpinVox invests renewed power into the one thing I think many have systematically lost: their voice; the belief that what one says has longevity and purpose, rather than being instantly lost in the ether.
In fact, we are convinced that SpinVox is one of those extraordinary things that you don’t know how positively life-changing it is until you’ve tried it. Channelling that kind of emotion into a brand construct that makes the proposition tangible and enables a viral marketing strategy has been a gift.
We think we can speed up our journey, if this insight informs every facet of our brand. Then convince our customers – the mobile telecommunications carriers - of the opportunity to bestow it upon users to trial the service, without asking these users to get too rational about it up front.
Sending in the Mob
When it came to designing the SpinVox logo, it seemed self-evidently right that it should be framed by speech marks. For every voice message we convert, we only ever deliver the text within the framework of speech marks, denoting its spoken origin.
We need to clarify that SpinVox is a conduit to enhanced and amplified messaging behaviour, not replacing existing messaging – blogging, Voicemail, texting – but enhancing it.
So we position ourselves as messaging spoken “through SpinVox”. We sit as the transformative, enabling party, between caller and receiver. Both can be confident that SpinVox represents the spoken message accurately, and so both can harness the power of SpinVox whether as caller or receiver.
Notionally, therefore, spoken moments captured and delivered as text by SpinVox empowers the user to ‘Speak Freely’ – our brand promise.
I am clear that our brand and communication strategy has to be largely experiential: I want people to engage emotionally and only then begin to rationalise the benefits of the service. And in a sector that holds great store in complex language and digital display wizardry, we thought it a tremendous opportunity to remain strictly Analogue.
We therefore created a Speech Mob – a group of 50 men in suits with cube-heads, with letters on each face, which can assemble in different groups to create large-scale messages. It made perfect street theatre for our North American launch in late 2007.
Further to that, we’ve created Speech Mob Figures – fully packaged Action Figures of the Speech Mob, which could be assembled en-masse or seeded individually - embodying our intangible service in a tangible product that sparks curiosity, conversation and a trial from a phone number; as I call it, packaging voice.
Our stands at the major mobile trade shows this year, Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and CTIA in Las Vegas, confronted tens of thousands of `suits`, otherwise sparring around the latest techno-gadgetry, with 2000 Speech Mob Figures assembled on billboards above our stand, spelling out headlines from the show.
One delegate was filmed confessing, “SpinVox is my new favourite brand and I don’t even know what they do yet”.
And so it is: humanising the technology of SpinVox has started from the principle that the end-user really isn’t fussed about how it works, but what it offers them: simpler every day communication that harnesses their voice.
Once experienced, users are continually romanced, informed and entertained by the power of the service. Ultimately, we believe SpinVox will renew our belief in the power of voice.
Therefore we have created a brand that is knowingly playful, almost childlike, in its wonder at its own brilliance at doing one thing and one thing only – converting voice to text.
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