Coding a unique bot personality.
There are oceans of bot makers who can whip up a bot with a personality, no problem. But the ability to give a bot a fun, relatable, unique personality is rare.
And yet that’s exactly what most bots need in order to stand out and succeed.
Here's the difference between a personality and unique personality.
Think of someone you know who has all the trendy mannerisms down and says human-like things. Upbeat but sterile and predictable in that Apple-store-employee-on-the-clock way. That's called personality, and it won't win you armies of acolytes in the bot game.
Now let's consider unique personality. Think of your best friend or favorite family member. Chances are they have a unique, funny point of view. Quirks and mannerisms all their own. They are original, authentic, true to form. There is simply no substitute. That's because they have a unique personality.
Your bot will benefit from having one, too. In the brave new conversational ecosystem, bots with unique personalities win big.
How you give your bot a unique personality is another story. It's both art and science, so there's no perfect roadmap.
But there are rules of thumb. For starters, don’t be satisfied to simply attempt to communicate in the voice of your market.
Unless you are truly part of your market, don't strain to talk in the tone of your market. You’ll fail. And even if you don't, you'll sound, at best, like millions of other bots doing their best to relate to that same market.
In an attempt to ape the cadences of your target, you'll end up with a tone of voice that's the opposite of unique. When really what you should be striving for is to give your bot a voice like nothing else on Earth.
Hacking the unique bot personality.
There’s no substitute for having a bullpen of creative superstars and comedians writing for your bot. We love that our writers have written for Comedy Central, performed in Second City improv shows, and have developed award-winning ad campaigns for Fortune 500 companies.
But if you don’t have those kinds of chops at your disposal (although you kind of do, b/c we’re here for you heart and soul) here’s a simple method you can try at home to keep your bot from being too blah.
Start by picking two words or phrases that capture your bot's essence. They can be nouns, adjectives, verbs, anything.
Avoid generic words like friendly, hip, helpful, upbeat. If you don't, your bot will be nothing but a pale shadow of a trendy conformist.
The best bots today tend to marry two unusual ideas that are in intriguing opposition of each other. Here are some examples of this counterpoint from our portfolio:
Trendy chatterbox + whale = Swelly. (FB Messenger & Kik).
Future tech + retro space-age jazz = Yala. (Slack)
Smart physician + youthful goofball = Younger. (Amazon Alexa)
We forged a unique voice for each of these bots by coming up with two unexpected strands and twisting them together like a double helix. Then, we’d sit down (with pizza) and brainstorm a master list of words to go with each strand.
So, a word or phrase for Yala’s retro space-age jazz strand might be something like "white vinyl boots." Words for Swelly’s whale strand might be "blowhole" or "splash."
You get the idea. With a bit of creativity and hard work, we generate around fifty words per strand.
These magic words, once compiled, are like the phosphates and sugars in DNA. Wrap the new-fangled word-DNA around a generic skeletal-structured script and swap the bits of this genetic material into the nooks and crannies by way of homonym, synonym, and metaphor.
Make sense? (If not, don’t worry. It’s an advanced move.) If you do this, what you'll wind up with is a unique bot personality. A branded convo experience that users love.
With a unique voice established, you can shift your focus to growing exponentially. The wind will be at your back; people will want to be friends with your bot.
Why? Because in a world teeming with bromidic wind-up toys spewing the conversational equivalent of clip-art, you'll be offering users the rare, delectable, and addictive experience of interacting with a unique personality.
It’s not easy, but it works, and it’s worth it. In the bot game, investing in a unique voice is the ultimate competitive advantage.