Remember the kind voice that greeted (and probably still greets) every AOL subscriber notifying them that they have mail "You've got mail" Audio branding. Powerful stuff. They even made a movie based on this simple audio brand.
I have written in the past how AOL should enter the VoIP market. They undoubtedly will do so. And I have written about one of my favorite new applications enabled by IP, customized ringbacks. Well, along comes Verizon Wireless offering these customized ringbacks for their wireless customers (see ringbacks on this link).
Wouldn't it be interesting if AOL came up with a unique audio brand for their VoIP offering along the lines of "You've got mail". Imagine the viral marketing power when you dial a friend and instead of a ring you hear something like (AOL connecting, "You've called John" or something that resembles a unique and entertaining sound (which, not being a marketing guy, I am hard pressed to do). These audio brands are powerful. But you get the drift. Caller hears unique message, says "Hey that's cool and different. What is that?" friend responds "Why that's my new AOL phone service." Hey, add in the ability to press *AOL to sign up and you have a winner. I'm sure that some smart marketing guy at AOL will implement this plan. Makes sense to me.
Alternatively, one could envision the free VoIP service that has a range of promotions, selected from a package the user chooses, that provides short promotional ringbacks. Go ahead get creative. Its entertaining, its viral and its different than POTS. I know the change is coming. It's exciting to envision the services. Lets hope the AOL's of the world get creative and unleash something truly different.