The voice of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Voice Branding, UX research & Voice AI.

Client: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines.  The number 5 biggest airline in the world.

What does it take to design the (AI) voice of KLM? Creating an on-brand voice profile through research into voice perception, a bottom-up approach to defining the KLM Voice Brand, and a data-driven approach to selecting voices to represent the brand.


We are not planning to completely reinvent the wheel.

In our journey, we concentrated on leveraging Dutch and English to engage with KLM clients globally via conversational channels, among other platforms.

To grasp KLM’s brand identity thoroughly, our team delved into understanding its culture, tone of voice, and core values. We conducted research to gauge the public’s perception of KLM, uncovering the distinctive brand attributes that set KLM apart as both recognizable and unique.

During the foundational research phase, we became acquainted with an inside-out, identity-driven approach and strategy. This phase was crucial to our process, as its outcomes would profoundly influence our primary objective: reinforcing existing rules and design systems. Our approach was not to start from scratch but to enhance and preserve the brand’s effective and authentic essence.

Upon completing our discovery and orientation phase, we collaborated closely with KLM’s conversational and branding teams to establish and agree on specific requirements, expectations, and limitations.


We worked closely together with KLM’s innovation, conversational, and branding team to brainstorm and strategize.

Our task was to come up with a creative, inclusive, and effective approach to designing the (AI) voice of KLM.

Our objective was to leverage the power of voice and speech to differentiate the brand, drive recognition and improve the conversational UX.

In this pathfinding and exploratory stage, we landed on the idea of allowing everybody who works for KLM to audition to potentially become “The Voice of KLM”.

In total, more than 350 voice talents participated. We leveraged a rich dataset to research voice perception to define and design KLM’s Voice brand.

As with any voice branding process, we needed speech data for our research. We began looking for candidates and started collecting audio recordings. We also collected voice recordings at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

A pop-up studio was used where KLM employees could submit their speech data and record their voices. People could just walk in to record a script and participate in the project.

Leaving no stone unturned

Our approach also included a systematic investigation of existing research into voice perception relevant to the KLM project.

In the secondary research stage, we depended solely on existing data and experience.

Through an in-depth analysis of existing research, we gathered revelant perceptual data for collaborative interpretation with our team. This process initiated our comprehension of the methods by which pivotal characteristics can be conveyed through voice and speech, aligning with the brand’s desired identity and associations.

Additionally, we intuited that we would need at least two different voices, one for each language, to represent the brand. Although , we didn’t exclude the possibility of using language transfer technologies.

As a result of our primary and secondary research efforts combined, we were able to define voice standards: an overview of relevant insights, requirements, and guidelines for further voice curation. We also defined initial speaking styles to signal on-brand characteristics and represent that brand effectively.

This enables us to create an initial on-brand voice profile that empowers a transparent and data-driven workflow for efficient and knowledgable voice curation.

Because each voice is unique, we needed to acoustically analyze all voice recordings within our dataset.

We selected a smaller group of voices for further quantitative research based on performance results determined by the degree to which the perception of a voice corresponds to the desired perception of the brand.

We conducted additional studio sessions to record more specific speech data for more detailed perceptual and functional research into the remaining voices. 

We designed scripts to collect enough data from each voice to investigate various speaking styles. Recording scripts covered relevant sentence structures and focused on the use cases of various KLM services.

All materials were normalized and used in quantitative user tests. We acoustically analyzed all new recordings to collect acoustic properties data. We used analysis software in combination with an expert panel. 

The tests were designed to research how people liked the voices and how people perceived the voices. We stressed this approach because it is not only important that a voice has to convey brand values and characteristics, but it is also important that you gain insight into which personality characteristics and vocal traits a customer finds most important. This is essential for effective and honest performance ranking.

We got insights from hundreds of people and leveraged quantitative data from user tests to evaluate and research the importance of various on-brand personality traits and evaluation and perception of individual voices.

We looked for relevant connections in the acoustic data of voices that outperformed others to optimize our initial KLM Voice Brand.  The same approach was leveraged to refine KLM’s most important speaking styles.

The quantitative tests, in combination with acoustic analysis, gave us rich insight into how we should design the KLM voice brand. We learned what it took to signal specific on-brand characteristics. We leveraged not only the “best” performing voice data but also the data of all other voices and how they came across to hundreds of people within the context of the KLM services.

The end result was an effective Voice Brand that delivers on the brand promise and adds to a positive user experience.

We designed a data-driven voice design system to effectively manage KLM’s brand identity through voice and the act of speaking itself. 

We also defined the best performing voices in Dutch and English. One of my favorite things was that they are still KLM employees, but they became voice talents professionally. 

KLM approached voice branding strategically and implemented it thoughtfully to create powerful, authentic sensory experiences that drive recognition, enhance engagement, and strengthen brand trust.

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