How does your brand say the word Hello?


We’ve all experienced it.

You meet someone for the first time. It could be business related. A friend of a friend. Or simply the person next to you on a plane. They start to say something and you instantaneously think, “I do not trust this person.” 

Why is this? Do we all have amazing instincts? Are we too judgmental? Or was there something they did that triggered our reaction?

I recently came across an article that discussed this very question. It documented a 2017 research study that tested computer-generated variations of the word, “Hello,” to gauge what type of voice tonality felt trustworthy and what did not.

Now, the main reason this study intrigued me was not because I’m in car sales or anything. It got me thinking about advertising. We choose voices all of the time to sell our clients’ products and services. The voices we select change from brand to brand and commercial to commercial, but “being trustworthy” is generally something we want across the board. After all, if we’re trying to get viewers to embrace our message and buy our pitch, trust is a must.

The study discovered that people trusted a “hello” that had personality. “The most trustworthy audio clips offered varied tones: beginning high, dropping in the middle and rising at the end. The least trustworthy were mostly flat.” 

This is the point in the article where I let out a giant sigh of relief.

As someone who focuses on creating ads that not only engage and entertain viewers, but that generate a response, I’ve always believed that a dose of personality helps our cause. In the direct response category, all too often the prevailing opinion is that you need to be serious. Or LOUD. Or even pushy. And while that mentality may work for certain products, a voice that feels more like a good friend or someone who makes you smile can go a really long way. Less demanding. More inviting.

From the voiceover in your television ad to the automated voice prompt at your call center, the Hello Study really applies to any vocal representation of your brand. They all make an impression. So, as you think about any marketing that requires audio, make sure you ask the question: “How does my brand say Hello?

And if you’ve got a few minutes, take your own Hello Test here. Find out the type of tones you deem trustworthy.