The sound of the doorbell chime used by smart home firm Ring was the key thing to get right in order to make the company a success, founder Jamie Siminoff has said.
The Ring chief executive and chief inventor said the most successful companies long-term had built brands that often involved iconic or familiar sounds.
Mr Siminoff told the PA news agency that he had gone through dozens of variations of a doorbell chime before choosing the one now used by the firm’s video doorbells.
Founded as Doorbot in 2013, Ring has grown to become one of the biggest smart home security companies in the world and has expanded beyond doorbells to security cameras and other products.
In 2018, the company was acquired by Amazon for a figure reported to be more than a billion dollars.
“If you look at the best companies that have protected their markets long term, yes technology is one thing and innovation is certainly part of it, but the brand is really so critical,” Mr Siminoff said.
If you can have a sound that people recognise it's something that long-term could be a real advantage in building a brand
“Brand is not just the name – it’s a hundred things together that really build it.
“Sound is one of those things. If you can have a sound that people recognise it’s something that long-term could be a real advantage in building a brand.”
He cites the boot-up sound heard when a user turns on one of Apple’s Mac computers as one inspiration, but said he didn’t want to reinvent the doorbell, just evolve it.
“What I wanted to do is elevate something that everyone knew what it was. For us, we wanted you to have the pre-awareness of what the product was, where it went and why you would need it,” he said.
“So it was important that we didn’t get so far from the doorbell. The sound was the same thing – I wanted it to be a different sound of a doorbell that was unique enough, but also that if you heard it, you’d be like, ‘that sounds like a doorbell’.”
“That’s what’s so interesting about sound, it’s that sound triggers, which is why it’s so important for brand.
“Sound is so important and valuable for brands because it has that open ability to connect to other pieces of information.”
He added that taking the unusual step of putting his own email address on boxes of products so customers could contact him directly had helped speed up development inside the firm.
“One of my biggest hacks was putting my email on the box – which is funny because everyone told me, at every stage, to take the email off the box,” he said.
“But getting the ground truth of problems that were happening in real-time meant that I was able to fix things faster, and therefore prevent the downstream impact of problems festering and getting bigger.”
Improving neighbourhood safety also remains a goal of the company, he said, describing how footage from Ring devices was not only used in criminal investigations but also to help find missing people and pets or as a reminder of family members who had since passed away.
Looking forward, he said he wanted the company to keep offering “better tech at lower prices” and look to reach more people.
“If I’m looking at our mission of making neighbourhoods safer and better, then we are currently at maybe 1% innovation in this area. There is a lot of things we can do,” he said.
“So in some ways we’re just getting started. I think everyone says that – it’s kind of a cliche – but our goal is not to build a large business, it’s to really make neighbourhoods better and we’ll probably never get there.
“It’s one of those infinite goals that I can somewhat tangibly see ways to help it along the way through anecdotes.
“It’s incredible also to have been able to lead an entire industry and change it because it was an old industry and the products were basically the same for a long time.
“And now everybody has to innovate. I think that’s good. I think competition is good.”