There’s just something iconic about Morgan Freeman’s voice isn’t there? When we think documentaries, dramatic readings or narration, we picture Morgan Freeman in our mind’s eye. So what is so unique about certain voice profiles that make them memorable? When asked how to describe a voice, we often find ourselves falling short of the adjectives to do so. This happens even when we clearly hear that voice reverberating inside our heads.
“Just one more thing Morgan Freeman! How come every time something convoluted needs explaining, you show up?” – Kyle, South Park.
A voice brings to life a brand, character or idea through its personality and charisma. In the world of audio branding, we often have a resonating affinity towards one brand more than the other. Although we can’t quite seem to put our finger on what the reason is. Casting the right voice requires a combination of a creative concept and a suitable voice that can evoke an overall positive appeal from your audience. This is why learning how to describe a voice is so crucial.
If you’re looking for a voice actor for brand advertising, dubbing or voice overs, you’ve come to the right place. Read on to discover popular voice trends in the market and learn how you can communicate your needs effectively for all your projects!
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This post was updated on March 2021
The Need to Describe Voices
Remember Janice’s vexatious, nasal voice in Friends? It is absolutely possible to dislike someone simply because of the tone of their voice. In the world of audio ads, there is a thin line between a catchy commercial and a bothersome one. You wouldn’t want to invest heftily in production only to portray a negative image because of the miscommunication of your voice actor needs. Here further reasons why accurate voice descriptions are so important.
Voicing an Emotional Appeal
A study proved suggested that 94% of people are more likely to recommend a brand that they have an emotional affinity with. Another poll showed that emotional marketing is twice as effective as one without an emotional pull. This is because the human voice carries qualities that translate to emotional information. The voice is first absorbed by the brain and processed as either a positive or unpleasant experience.
Did you know that the instrument of the human voice can communicate 24 different emotions? In promotional audio ads, the blend of content and the expression of voice go hand in hand to creating a grandiose desire. This includes stroking the want for power, ego gratification, love or security. On top of an emotional correlation, science has proven that our brains often associate sound characteristics with the source. Harnessing the appeal of a voice is thus very powerful in brand recall and promotional marketing. And learning how to describe that voice can determine your campaign success.
Connecting Supply to Demand
Did you know that the cost of business miscommunication reached a colossal amount of $37 billion in 2018? If you are a professional voice talent, an accurate description of your voice can help you market your voice profile to the right clientele. The sound of each human’s voice is almost like a thumbprint. They are unique because of one’s personality as well as the different physiological shape and size of the vocal tract and cords. By knowing how to describe your voice, you can prevent any project and potential client relationships from going sour.
Likewise, voice profiling can be the bridge connecting businesses to voice talent. Many voice actors do provide snippets of their narration for your consideration. However, being able to describe the voice you need in detailed attributes can shorten the back and forth communication by miles. As such, it benefits both the voice provider and the client, lowering the risk of any undesired outcome.
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The Pull of Popular Voices
The number of marketers looking to hire celebrity voices is exponentially increasing by around 10% each year. Is this worth the investment? Here we look at some of their attractive qualities, and what makes them distinctively memorable. All this in the name of science to achieve an improved brand recall!
The Comfort of Familiarity
Here’s the reason why popular voices might be deemed effective. Science has proven that we memorize repeated sound patterns more easily. Putting voices in the context of our daily relationships, we find that it is in our nature to be more welcoming and loyal towards voices that we frequently hear. Such include those of our relatives and friends.
With celebrities taking over the media by storm, we become more receptive as we hear them everywhere. This means better memory retention and brand recall especially in the realm of advertising. Even though we might not be able to consciously identify that voice by name, we are still subconsciously open to take action because we trust that familiar voice.
The Attractive Voice Attributes
Can you guess which top 3 celebrities, male and female, are the most sought after in the industry of marketing? Here’s a clue, the first one has already been mentioned in this article. Yes, undoubtedly, Morgan Freeman has been ranking first repeatedly over the last several years. Next on the list includes George Clooney and Mike Rowe. The top 3 most popular female voices include Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, and Nicole Kidman. In demand for campaigns and advertising, we look at the science behind why they are considered so appealing.
“Appealing” in Everyday Life:
The profile of an attractive voice in everyday life versus media and advertising is surprisingly very different. Research showed that the more average sounding an individual’s voice is, the more attractive it is perceived. Other studies showed that a higher-pitched woman’s voice is generally perceived to be more attractive. This is because it represents fitness and femininity. Some examples of celebrities with high pitched voices include Britney Spears and Jennifer Tilly. Meanwhile, as expected, a lower voice is found to be more attractive in men due to its depiction of power and strength.
“Appealing” in Media & Ads:
That world, however, turns topsy turvy in the realm of marketing. A study was done on radio spokespersons to determine the influence of vocal pitch on the listener. Low-pitched female voices were surprisingly proven to be more favorable for branding and advertising.
With that in mind, let’s look at our celebrities in demand. All leading female contenders have a calming and a lower-pitched voice. In addition, both Blanchett and Kidman speak with a foreign voice accent which makes them more distinctive and interesting. As for the men, recent studies show that monotony has been trending as an attractive quality. That explains the popularity of both Morgan Freeman’s soothing voice, George Clooney’s approachable voice, and Mike Rowe’s mellifluous voice qualities.
Six Elements to Voice Description
All of us are on the quest for THE golden voice! But not all of us are born with the descriptive flair of a writer. Adjectives are sometimes really hard to come up with. And trust me, the thesaurus rarely churns out quite the word you are looking for. This is why the listicle below covering crucial voice elements will help you to articulate the qualities of the voice talent you are in search of.
1 ) The Vocal Pitch
Darth Vader or Minnie Mouse, here’s how you can describe your pitch-perfect. Measured in hertz, the vocal pitch is the highness or lowness of your voice recorded in frequency. Based on a study, we examine the effect of different pitches from both genders.
2 ) The Intensity
Elemental to how to describe a voice, the acoustic density describes its loudness. Individuals who are naturally soft-spoken consist of the likes of Meryl Streep and Halle Berry. Others born with a powerful deep voice include Chris Hemsworth. A well-modulated mix of volume and tones creates a more expressive voice. Intensity variation can also be used to emphasize important phrases and words in speech. Here are some adjectives on how to describe voice intensity.
3 ) The Smoothness
Are you looking for the soothing stylings of Nicole Kidman or the husky voices of Emma Stone and Whoopi Goldberg? It all depends on the context of which you need for your voice over, narration or ad. While a soothing voice can be calming, science has deemed the raspy voice in females as extremely sexy. So if you are looking to appeal to the opposite sex or add a touch of sensuality, husky voices can be a deadly weapon!
4 ) The Age Group
Truth be told, the actual age of the voice talent actor doesn’t matter. What matters is how they sound. For example, most voice actors in their 40s can sound about 10 to 15 years younger in age. Male talents with deeper voices can also sound older than they actually are.
Considering the vocal age is a huge part of how to describe a voice. Picking a voice in the same age group as your target market can increase your ad’s appeal. Here’s an example. A teenager, say, listening to an ad on a rad pair of sneakers will most definitely not be hooked if they were advertised by old gramps or mom! It just obliterates that cool factor.
5 ) The Accent
If you’re reading this article, you either are a voice actor or looking to hire one. If you are the latter, outsourcing your audio project is easy and affordable. Platforms such as Bunny Studio allow you to pick the language, gender and age of the voice actor you are looking for. That from approximately 50 languages and dialects. As a subset of languages, accents play such an important role in how to describe a voice. In the goal of brand localization, accents can determine if your brand is authentic to the region.
Let’s take for example the German language. In general, Deutsch, or German, is a major language in Europe that is spoken in over 6 countries. Although so, every one of them speaks it in a differing accent or dialect. Even accents in Germany itself differ from region to region! So if you are looking to penetrate both let’s say, Switzerland, and Austria, being thorough on voice accents and dialects would matter.
Another example is what happens in Belgium where 60% of the population of over 11.5 million inhabitants claim it as their native language. That’s why, depending on your target audience, you’ll need a flemish voice over or a dutch voiceover.
6 ) Other Positive Traits
Screams and witch-like shrillness might be in demand for horror story podcasts or voice-overs. But unless you’re looking to terrify or depress your audience, picking a pleasant uplifting voice is mostly assumed to be effective. Here are some descriptive words to inspire your selection.
Voicing a Conclusion
Now that you’ve got the gist on how to describe a voice with accuracy, here are some last-minute pearls of wisdom. Don’t annoy your audience! Unless a controversial context calls for it, avoid nasal, mumbling and meek voices. Also, try to shun the voices of adult women trying to sound like a child. That goes especially for advertising. Assumingly you’d be looking to establish confidence, trust, and authority for your brand, and those qualities are counterproductive.
Above all, clarity, accurate enunciation, as well as appropriate rhythm and pace, should always be a basic requirement for any voice actor you hire. That goes for any projects including movie trailers, phone systems, product videos, educational presentations, advertising, podcasts, and video games dubbing.