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

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 focussed on leveraging Dutch and English to engage with KLM clients globally via conversational channels, among other platforms.

Our team's deep dive into KLM's brand identity involved understanding its culture, tone of voice, and core values. Through research, we uncovered the unique and recognizable attributes that make KLM stand out, shaping its distinct brand identity.

We became acquainted with an inside-out, identity-driven approach and strategy during the foundational research phase. 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 compelling and authentic essence.


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

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.​

Our task was to devise a creative, inclusive, and effective approach to designing KLM's AI voice. Our objective was to leverage the power of voice and speech to differentiate the brand, drive recognition, and enhance the conversational user experience.

During this pathfinding and exploratory stage, we conceived the innovative idea of allowing every KLM employee to audition for the opportunity to become "The Voice of KLM."

KLM Project portfolio photo

More than 350 voice talents participated in total. 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 collecting audio recordings at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and KLM Headquarters.

A pop-up studio was used where KLM employees could submit their speech data and record their voices. Employees could 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.

We depended solely on existing data and experience in the secondary research stage.

Through an in-depth analysis of existing research, we gathered relevant perceptual data for collaborative interpretation with our team. This process initiated our comprehension of how 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 combined primary and secondary research efforts, 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 effectively represent the KLM brand personality.

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

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

Recording and Analyzing Speech Data for Voice Selection

We conducted additional studio sessions to record 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, using 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 sought relevant connections in the acoustic data of voices that outperformed others to optimize our initial KLM Voice Brand. This approach was also used to refine KLM's most important speaking styles. The combination of quantitative tests and acoustic analysis provided valuable insights into designing the KLM voice brand. We learned what it took to convey specific on-brand characteristics effectively.​

The result was an influential Voice Brand that delivers 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 our favorite things was that they are still KLM employees but have become professional voice talents.

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