Simple! Just be the right voice for the job
When you’re just starting out or building your voice over career and repertoire, it can be a bit of a mystery exactly how or why you may have been selected to submit your voice for an ad or campaign or…(reason to celebrate)…won the job!
The truth is, choosing the right voice for a commercial or a campaign isn’t just a game of ‘eeny meeny miney mo’, or a ‘random act of selection’. There’s a science behind it and it’s all about one little word…‘branding’.
You will have heard the word before, I’m sure. If you’ve been a regular watcher of The Gruen Transfer, which is compulsory viewing for anyone in voice over, you’ll have heard it a million times, so let’s talk about it and how it relates to you…the voice actor.
Branding is the process of creating a unique name and image for a product and then rolling out advertising that’s targeted to its consumer market. Branding is, of course, considered successful when that product out-performs the competition and establishes strong customer loyalty. Advertising agencies spend a lot of time talking with their clients about it.
So, what is the process they go through to find just the right voice; the one that ticks all their branding boxes?
Well to begin with, an enormous amount of research will have been undertaken by the client with their advertising agency to discover just who their market is. Market research and focus groups are considered an important tool for finding out what the market does…and what the market wants. Through this process they’ll be very specific when it comes to finally ‘nailing down’ their customer. They may create a set of adjectives or descriptive phrases, or words that conjure certain feelings. Sometimes they can be as specific as designing all the traits of their ‘one perfect customer’.
They may have a description like this…say for a campaign for a certain car, ’35 something female, corporate job, serial online dater, dreaming of falling in love and settling down. She’s busy and efficient. She goes to a gym, shops exclusively online and drinks champagne. Her friends find it refreshing that she’s straight-talking, knows what she wants and cuts-to-the-chase’…that kind of thing.
When the ad agency has an image that’s as specific as this, they’ll write ads for that specific person, so when it comes to casting the right voice for their ads, whether it’s a voice over for a television ad or for a radio campaign, they’re listening for a voice that embodies the character and personality of that ‘one perfect customer’.
When it comes to listening to demos for their potential voice, they’ll send an outline of what they’re looking for, a ‘brief’, to the recording studio they plan to record at, for suggestions…and to theatrical agents and/or voice over agents who represent voice actors.
Sometimes the brief might even include specific requests, ‘get an experienced voice actor’. Sometimes they might even ask that the demos of certain names be submitted, voice actors whose work they’re familiar with. Sometimes the request might be ‘find me a new voice, a stand-out different voice’…or any other specific they may think they’d like to hear.
Sometimes part of the criteria for selection as ‘the voice’, of a certain brand, is that the person will be available to be ‘the voice’ long term. Not only will they want to create strong brand recognition with their chosen voice, they want the voice to be available to them, when they’re needed. So, often part of the brief will be, ‘must be available to record radio and/or television campaigns for 12 months’ for instance.
You know, it’s a truism in advertising that certain voices resonate with audiences more than others…that some voices become like a trusted and familiar family friend. It’s been this truism that has given many voice artists their long and successful careers.
Let’s talk about the voice demo in this process. Firstly, one of the reasons I always suggest to voice artists, who are training with me and creating a demo, that they make their sample reads at least 10-15 seconds long, is that voice grabs that are any shorter don’t make enough impact. 10-15 seconds will make sure that the listener gets the nuances of your performance and that you are competent at that style, before you move on to the next one, so no 5 second grabs okay!!!
Another reason for 10-15 seconds is that sometimes a studio might like to just take a grab of a voice style they believe fits the brief, from each of a half a dozen demos…and send that through to the agency for considerations. If your samples are too short, likelihood is they won’t be included, so they’re a wasted opportunity, in my opinion.
Once all samples or demos have been submitted, often a short-list will be created and those voices will be invited to do a ‘submission’ at a studio, more often than not with a, pretty-close-to-final, draft of the script. They’ll be wanting not only to hear whose performance works with the script best, they’ll also be listening for this.
How did he or she say the product name, the ‘hero’ phrase, the keywords? If you don’t know how to find these words in a script or just how important they are in securing voice work, then you need to know.
Also, does this voice tick all those character personality boxes?
…and just like in any audition or interview for a job…at the end of the day…
Do we want to work with this person…especially if it is a long term gig.
And that’s where the ‘High Paid Voice Work’ in the title of this blog comes in. Regular work with a great client can be incredibly lucrative. We all love them when they come our way and the best way to make sure you’re in the running is to sharpen your skills and make sure your demo is serving you.
Advertising agencies, studio producers and casting people are always looking for new voices, or that voice with a special, sometimes indefinable, ‘something’…the something that will make their performance and the client’s commercial stand out from the rest and create ‘branding’ that’s memorable and satisfying.
Can you see yourself fitting the bill?
If you’ve done some coaching, made a demo or are working as a voice artist and want to do some training around understanding how to satisfy ‘branding’ needs…come and do some private work with me in my home studio in Port Melbourne.
Perhaps you think your demo may be not as sharp as you’d like. I’m good at demo sharpening.
Or if you’ve really decided you want to start playing with your own character and personality in the studio with great scripts, then sign up for one of my ‘One Day Studio Intensives’ and really discover what’s possible!
You can leave me a message here, if you’d like to talk about any of these options.
Find Your Voice As a Voice Over Actor And Artist With The Voice Over Coach. For over 30 years I've had a successful voiceover career. I work in mainstream voice over for radio and television, narration for the corporate sector, website content and documentaries, as well as characters for animation, IVR, ADR, on-hold and foreign film dubbing.