Is your brand facing an identity crisis? Yes, we’re talking about your brand tone. Being agile and rolling with market demands is one thing. But the old saying that a rolling stone gathers no moss indeed holds some truth. Establishing the right base tone for your brand will differentiate you from your competitors, and make you the real McCoy.
There’s no quick fix, but let’s start with the basics. In this article, we’re going to talk about two key elements for successful branding. They are your written tone and vocal tone, both of which should complement each other to deliver an engaging and compelling message to your target audience. Grease those elbows as we dig into the nitty-gritty details on how to develop a resonating brand voice.
What is a Brand Tone?
A brand tone of voice defines the communication style of your brand to your audience. This is often included as part of the brand guidelines. Together, the set of rules are the nuts and bolts in helping a brand define its personality and main a consistent identity. Such can help govern marketing materials over all channels, and prime the pump towards building a good brand reputation and enhance its recognition among consumers.
The Importance of Setting the Voice
Your brand represents your values and your products, so it’s only logical that your communication should be presented in the best light to your targeted audience. Without strategizing the right tone of voice, marketing becomes moot, and investment of resources go down the drain. The rule of thumb essentially is to preserve and portray the same identity regardless of brand localization, ad objectives, or content.
Did you know that 60% of consumers prefer to buy a new product from a brand they are already familiar with, rather than switching to a new one? Familiarity breeds comfort in human psychology, and maintaining the right tone of voice for your brand is key. A radical Jekyll and Hyde brand persona is not only disconcerting but also etches a self-contradictory and dissonant impression on the audience. Such may even be so on an unconscious level. This is the very reason why successful brands often abide strictly by their brand guidelines and pick vocal actors with similar voice characteristics to market their products, organization, or services.
Having a monkey see monkey do brand strategy can make demote the confidence of consumers in your brand. Unfortunately, plain vanilla just doesn’t quite help a brand stand out from competitors. Just like how every individual has a unique personality and his or her own strengths, establishing a brand tone that uses an authentic written and spoken tone can make your brand more memorable.
Using a consistent brand tone exudes a sense of trustworthiness and security for the consumer. Just like how you wouldn’t trust the words of someone with a multiple-personality disorder, a constantly fickle brand tone might make you come off as a headless chicken that’s lacking in values! On the other hand, an aligned tone of voice, written or spoken regardless, creates the impression of solidity and accountability towards a brand.
Methods of Tone Communication
Most often, the term tone of voice refers to a definitive style in writing and speaking. Both forms of communication evoke emotions that if effectively harnessed, can help you build a strong and personal connection with your audience.
Materials such as scripts, website content, blogs, and social media posts ought to convey a consistent brand tone. Some things to consider when setting a written tone are your audience’s demographics and language. Your written brand tone should be an expression of your brand’s personality and outline values consistent with your corporate mission and vision.
Research shows that the vocal tone of voice could be responsible for 38% of what you’re trying to communicate. In crafting a brand tone, voice acting attempts to take that delicate 38% and present an articulate, compelling message. As such voice over has become a paramount ingredient of recent years in different industries and markets. It is used especially in customer-facing commercials and how-to videos. Simple as this sounds, many considerations come into play here. Such include the voice’s age, qualities, accent, and emotions you would like to invoke in your audience to strike a chord for a conversion. Choosing a voice actor that’s unappealing or not relatable could alienate you from the market you’re trying to connect with.
Picking the Appropriate Voice
Already have your script set in stone? Now you need a voice actor to vivify your brand. Finding the right talent can be daunting, frustrating, and time-consuming. But using an apt voice is also of great essence in aligning your brand to its identity. Depending on the purpose of your audio or video ad, here are some approaches you might want to consider.
The Sincerely Conversational
If your brand is looking to approach its audience with a faithful feel and a realistic slant, then going with a voice actor known for his or her candidness would be a great pick. This would be a spokesperson or narrator that has a slow and laid back pace that can direct the script as if they’re talking to a friend or neighbor. Should you be looking to reassure your audience with a wisdom-rich vibe, an older voice, male or female, will bolster your objectives on that front. Examples include Dennis Haysbert in the Allstate ads or Brooke Alexander from the Turner Classic Movies announcements.
What it sounds like:
A sincerely conversational brand voice is relaxed, dependable, reassuring, and all-knowing. It creates a personable impression that your brand knows what’s best for your audience.
Here’s an example of the unpretentious, comfortable voice persona. One who may just be having a casual and friendly chat with you.
The Concise Authoritarian
A popular voice for e-learning is picking a voice actor with a more didactic tone of voice. If you prefer your brand tone to come across with confidence, then gear yourself toward an actor that has a quick and clipped voice. The right pace is inherently important. Speaking too fast can make you lose your audience, but a relaxed and slow speech doesn’t quite frame your brand as a leader in its market either. The authoritarian uses a brisk pace and a louder volume to make your ad sound like it means business rather than pleasure. This voice is particularly useful when your brand needs to come across as a confident expert or an opinion leader. Legal aid commercials or car dealerships are some examples where this approach may come in handy.
What it sounds like:
A concise authoritarian brand voice can be assertive and serious, but by no means does the message come across as mundane. Rather, it can instill the conviction of your consumers with regard to the effectiveness of your products in a no-nonsense manner.
Here’s an example of the straightforward, direct voice persona who is both factual and succinct.
The Playfully Charming
The children’s demographic is highly appealing. When approaching such a market, it’s important to get on their level without coming across as irritating or condescending. With e-learning videos leaning more and more into edutainment, it’s helpful to apply a bright, melodic, and kind voice. This light-hearted voice has to be fast enough to keep a younger audience’s attention, but clear in context and sound to express attainable subjects. This approach can also appeal to the adult demographic in a tongue in cheek way.
What it sounds like:
A playfully charming voice for children demographic tends to sound more colorful with ups and downs in intonation. Quite often, it is a warm, comforting, and voice that is engaging and entertaining at the same time. A playfully charming voice for the adult demographic is another story altogether. Depending on your brand personality, it can sound trendy, exciting, and even a little flirtatious.
Here’s an example of the energetic, enthusiastic voice persona who will lift your brand with sugar, spice, and everything nice!
The Characteristically Outlandish
This approach is used quite often in role play scripts and audiobooks. If you’re looking to create an outrageous impression with your audience using a silly, dramatic, or over-the-top vibe, this might just do the trick. Voice actors in this category are particularly great for genres like cartoons, audiobooks, or any other theatrical readings. These voices are not used often in corporate settings, but who knows? An unconventional presentation might be able to put across your message with the most memorable and surprising impact.
What it sounds like:
Aside from having a clear, understandable tone of voice, everything else is a variable: their pitch can be high or low, their pace slow or fast, they can have a bold accent, or habitual tic like stuttering or laughing. Basically, the sky is the limit!
Here’s an example of a silly and peculiar voice persona that is sure to turn heads and stick in your audience’s mind.
Outsourcing to a Voice Actor
Everyone owns a unique voice box that enables a different vocal range. While some may have the natural capability to reach soprano to bass voice pitches, others like professional voice actors work hard in pushing their limits and expanding their scope. It takes the appropriate voice warming techniques, throat care, and a truckload of practice for them to portray these voices without damaging their larynx. Therefore, when it comes to a need for voice over, there’s really no shame in outsourcing your project to a professional. Here are some tips and tricks to go by if you’ve decided to hire an external voice.
Know What You’re Looking For
Getting a voice talent can be like window shopping. Some might be inspired to go in a different direction from the start, while others have the qualities they are looking for cast in stone. Should you already have a script, we recommend that you conceptualize the ad, and jot down some voice characteristics that might be vital in delivering your message in the right tone. Although, this might be easier said than done for many. We tend to have a voice type bouncing around in our mind but discover that adjectives fall short when it comes to describing what we’re seeking. Sound familiar? This article might just help you to put that voice down in words.
Explore Your Options
The best indication for a fit always lies with voice samples. It’s natural to feel overwhelmed with the hoards of voice actors in the market who claim to be honed professionals. It’s never a bad thing to have options, and voice samples can help you to narrow down your options more strategically. Platforms like this one present a well-organized talent register all in one place. Look for talent with specific keywords and browse through line ups to find the right voice for your project. There are hundreds of voices to search through and you can navigate with filters such as age, gender, and purpose of the content.
Look for Sound Quality
It’s not just about the perfect voice, it’s also about sound quality. Imagine broadcasting a programmatic ad with whirring fan white noises and abrupt clanging of kitchenware in the distance. That would certainly destroy the image of your brand, wouldn’t it? Do look out for pops, crackles, and breaks in sound. Because professional voice actors don’t just have a suitable voice, they also have the right equipment and sound editing tools to create a clear and noise-free recording.
Ask for Reviews
Nothing speaks volumes like good reviews. And we mean plenty of amazing, trustworthy reviews. Most voice actors continually improve their articulation, experiment with voice modulation, and stretch their pitch range. But many on the market are simply amateurs making claims, and finding the perfect voice can be extremely time-consuming. The great news is that voice talents on platforms like this one come backed with a ton of reviews from clients all over the world. All voice talents are tried, tested, ready, and ripe for your picking. This also means on-time delivery, great quality, and professional voices all the time.
Set a Budget
Like all other marketing projects and campaigns, set a budget before you start hunting for a voice. This will allow you to explore options within your means. That said, quality voice overs do not mean breaking the bank. There are affordable options out there to pick from. You just have to look in the right places! Oh, and did we mention that this one can also help with your scriptwriting and video production?
Summing Up your Brand Tone
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is the brand tone of many global conglomerates. But once you have all brand tone guidelines in the palm of your hand, it is possible to make audio ad production an “all in a day’s work.” That is if you hire from the right places. It is important to provide as much detail as possible to your voice actor when putting up a project. The third time might be the charm, but the first time’s always the gold standard! Always describe the pace, pitch, emotion, age, and gender of the voice you are looking for. And of course, never compromise on articulation and clarity. Go by these tips and we promise you outsourcing won’t be quite as daunting as it sounds!