Voiceovers can make all the difference
Sep 30, 2015
Working in television and radio for years and now video production has really confirmed my belief that the voice talent you choose to use can make or break your spot, your campaign and even your brand.
The right one can elevate an average script. The wrong one can tank an otherwise decent concept. Much like epic music can create an atmosphere, so can a good voiceover. On the flip side, picture a very attractive person and then imagine they open their mouths and have a really squeaky or nasal voice. Not the complete package anymore.
Over the years I have also learned that someone can have a GREAT voice and not be a good voiceover, simply because they are not good at taking direction. Their voice may be rich and deep, but they are unable to read with expression or emotion. Conversely, I once used an actor with a rather rough voice for a commercial, and his enthusiasm made the spot, even though his voice was not model perfect by industry standards. Voice acting is indeed acting, and is as valuable a talent as anyone in front of the camera.
In fact, voice acting has been a steady, if anonymous, side gig for high-profile actors for years. Ever wonder why that Visa commercial gave you such a warm glow? Credit the uncredited Morgan Freeman. Oscar winner Matt Damon lends a friendly authority to Ameritrade. And in a case of art imitating art, Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”’s Don Draper) closes the sale for Mercedes.
But a voice need not already be famous or familiar to speak for your brand. Let’s be honest, most clients don’t have that kind of budget anyway. It can be more exciting to use an unknown voice, without any “baggage,” and over time they become the voice of your brand. No one knows the Geico announcer’s name, but they sure know his voice.
Make sure your agency understands your brand inside and out and the emotional values it embodies. Then they can find the right voice to convey those values (Remember “squeaky and nasal?” Chances are that’s not your brand).
Try and match the voice with your audience. For instance, if you want to reach a younger target audience, use a more youthful voice that they can relate to. Then they are more apt to hear your message. Say for instance, If you are trying to speak to a developer, have the VO talk like a developer would, with the same inflections to their voice and similar slang and mannerisms. Then the right audience will listen and pay attention.
Voiceovers can really make a piece more effective at communicating the right message. An authoritative voice will lend more credibility to the script. A character voice can give your animation life and make it more engaging to view. Sometimes, to give the delivery a more global feel, a voice with a foreign accent can be used. You just need to decide on who you would like to direct your message to and let your voiceover do some of the work for you.
At the end of the day, listen to that voice in your head—it will tell you if your voiceover is working or not.
I’ve always loved to write. When I was in elementary school I would write plays for the neighborhood kids to perform. Later, I got hold of a video camera so I could create funny videos. As an English major at the University of North Carolina, I discovered that I could write fun scripts that told stories for a career. Boom! Advertising/Journalism immediately became my second major. I moved to Chicago to work at some amazing ad agencies like FCB and DDB where I sharpened my skills and helped market national brands. I also spent two years studying improv at The Second City, which has certainly helped out in many a presentation. I moved back down south so I could play tennis all year long and was lucky enough to find a workplace like Centerline with other creatives who share ideas and inspire me every day.