Does Your Bot Have A Name?

Whether or not to give your bot a name, an avatar, and a personality


All three are great questions.

Let's ignore Messenger for the moment and just talk about bots in general.

Does your bot have a name?

If you are Amazon the answer is yes. Alexa is named after the ancient library in Alexandria.  Personality yes, avatar no.

Apple has Siri.  She also has a personality but no avatar. 

Google on the other had has "Hey Google" not a name or a personality or an avatar.

Those are all voice bots though.

Messenger better lends itself to visual graphics which would make an avatar more practical.

Well, sorta.  

Amazon and Google now both have screens available, which would be a good venue for an avatar.  

Siri and Google both have the phone layer and the corresponding apps which could also both work well for avatars.

All of them remain good questions and it's gonna be fun to see how it all shakes out.

The arguments

Still so early in the game for bots. So feels a bit early to make any strong arguments either way.  That being said I am enjoying thinking about it and watching others experiment and doing the same.

For giving your bot a name, an avatar, and a personality

  • Depending on your niche, bots and messenger are so new that your bot might be the very first one they ever experience.  So they don't know what is going on. Are they talking to a bot or a computer or a human? Assuming you bot has both a name and an avatar this can clean things up a bit.
  • People tend too have their guard down a bit more when they don't think its a human. Also in my experience they are more gracious too. They are willing to tolerate things breaking and going wonky as they are used to tech derping out in their lives.
  • The bot to human hand off can be vastly simplified.
  • Giving the bot a personality really opens up some interesting  creative ways to stay on brand and dovetail with brand

For NOT giving your bot a name, an avatar, and a personality

  • Again its early, there is so much to learn and test, last thing you need to do is pile on with a name, an avatar, and a personality. Creating all of the above could delay your testing by weeks or months.
  • Very easy for it to be cheesy and straight bomb. Remember this guy?
Microsoft Clippy
  • How many bot personalities and personas do we have room for?  Every brand and company with their own bot avatar and name and personality?  Are we supposed to remember all of these names? Build relationships with all these avatars? 
  • When you are starting you should be laser focused on the conversations. Start having them and iterating.  Find out what your audience wants.  Not whether or not clippy up there is sassy or sweet. What his tag line is. How many expressions he is gonna have and how you are gonna create them. 

What's the plan?

Where do we go from here?

Given that Bots|ftw is a new entity, not tied to any existing revenue situation, and my own personal garage and sand box I get to test things and find out

So I am doing it.

Given the circumstances might as well go all in too.  See here is where I am so far.

This is Higgins.  A Sheepadoodle, and the family dog in real life. 

This is Higgins after he has been turned into an animated character.


This is Higgins after he has been turned into an animated character, stitched to a new program from Adobe, and made to express a range of emotions and point and look in various different directions (click to expand image).

This is Higgins animated on the fly with my web cam + keyboard triggers, turned into an animated Gif that I exported, — used BotHack #2 How to Compress Images for Bots — and can now embed here on the site or in the bot.

Higgins waving and smiling

This is Higgins, animated on the fly with my web cam + keyboard triggers, added a voice track he automagically lip syncs, and exported to video that I can now use on the site or in the bot.

Combined I am very pleased with the capabilities and opportunities this new system opens up. Not just in the bot, but on the site, in videos, potentially all over the place.

What's Next Then?

  • Start integrating him into the bot
  • Sort out what his personality is like (he will eat your children's plastic toys and take a rainbow colored crap on your lawn for a start.)
  • Determine whether or not to give him an actual voice and all that might entail
  • Start embedding him all over the site and start making him a  a part of the brand
  • Attempt to answer the three questions here before I rinse and repeat on my other projects

Over to you... What do you think about giving your bot a name, an avatar, and a personality?  A good idea?  Are you gonna do it for yours?  Let me know by hitting me up in the chat to the right.

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