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choose a voice over for your brand - male voice talent with microphone
choose a voice over for your brand - male voice talent with microphone
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Dec 15, 2023

How to Choose a Voice Talent to ROCK your Brand!

Choosing voice talent that’ll best trumpet your business in commercials, product videos, explainers, and even social media content, is not a simple task.

There is no “one-size-fits-all”.

And while the top voice talent makes promoting products and services sound easy, in truth it takes a particular skill to excite listeners into buying a new vacuum cleaner or stay engaged in their e-learning course or latest video game.

Sure, if you’re rolling out a new video marketing campaign (and you probably should if you want to compete with the other 91% of businesses who use video as a marketing tool. Just sayin’), then you could try your hand at the VO yourself.

Or ask Jerry from marketing to give it his best shot.

But that’s most likely going to cost you time, money, and a chunk of credibility.

Today’s video consumers, whether they’re watching an in-house educational video or an unboxing advert on TikTok, expect creators to bring their A-Game—and that includes the voice skills.

If a VO jars with the overall brand or messaging, then few viewers will stay tuned to the final frame.

So how, then, do you choose voice talent to rock your brand? What specifically should you be on the lookout for? And, how in heck’s name do you sift through the sheer variety of accents, ages, and timbres to find a voice actor that best suits your job?

(And FYI: ‘timbre’ (pronounced “tamber”) has nothing to do with timber or tambourines, it’s “…the character or quality of a voice or sound as distinct from its pitch and intensity.” Which is to say, it’s the hard-to-put-your-finger-on “something” about a voice that might be best described as its personality.)

Here are four considerations to take on board when choosing the right voice for your brand.


Consideration #1: To Choose Voice Talent You’ve Got to Know Your Brand Personality

choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a woman waving her hand

We mentioned personality above, and just as different voices can have their own unique personalities so too can brands.

In fact, when we talk about brands, what we’re really referring to is the personality of a company, product, celebrity, service, etc.

It’s the way they express themselves and what they stand for.

Nike’s brand personality, for instance, is dynamic and determined; competitive but kind.

Apple’s personality is about innovation and imagination, freedom, forward-thinking, and aspiration.

If the voice talent they used in their aural marketing material didn’t match these personality traits, it would cause a disconnect between the brand and its fans.

Here’s another example: Imagine you are making a commercial for a truck that’s aimed at men with “hard-hat” jobs.

You’d likely be on the lookout to hire someone like Sam Elliott. He’s the veteran voice artist who says “Guts, Glory, Ram” on the Ram truck ads.

Sam’s been blessed with a voice that sounds like it’s been aged for 12 years in solid oak whisky barrels.

It’s deep, resonant, and full of character, perfect for helping convey the vehicle’s sturdiness, dependability, and proud heritage.

He sounds warm, wise, and tough as old boots; the kind of grandfather who still has a twinkle in his eye and will be beating you at arm wrestling even when he’s a hundred.

Sam’s voice ticks all the boxes for the RAM brand personality.

But if he was selling iPhones with that same voice that conjures up wood-smoke and campfires, it’s unlikely he’d convince the predominantly 20-30 Apple consumer base that these were the must-have mobiles all the cool kids were buying!


Consideration #2: Choosing the Right Voice Talent Matters Whether You’re Selling or Not

You might be wondering whether the personality of a voice matters if you’re not pitching for a sale. The short answer is—it does.

In fact, the same principles apply whether it’s a TV commercial or audiobook.

Imagine, for instance, having a Scottish male read The Color Purple by Alice Walker. It would be a jarring experience for readers expecting the authentic voice of an enslaved Black woman.


Consideration #3: Imagery and Emotions Connect with Information

choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of owls

The right voice has a musicality to it, which works seamlessly with the information it’s relaying. It conjures up imagery and emotions connected to that information, without us even realizing it.

We don’t always take the time to acknowledge why the voice works for us; we just instinctively know that it does.

We hear it, we feel it, and we know straight away whether it sounds right or wrong to us.

If you’re not convinced, consider the opposite: Take a moment to imagine a nine-year-old girl with a strong French accent saying, “Guts, Glory, Ram,” and voicing the entire commercial.



Consideration #4: In the End, It’s “Horses for Courses”

“Horses for courses” is a British phrase used to explain that the best person for the job is the one who is best suited to it.

With so many voice talent styles available and so many voice talent jobs looking for the right match, it really is “horses for courses.”


Popular Voice Styles

So, let’s explore some of the most popular voice styles and the jobs they’re best suited to.


choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of ice cream

Here is an example of what voice artist Jim McCarthy calls a “stylized casual” commercial voice-over.

It’s fascinating to watch as he shares his thoughts about the process as he is doing it.

It’s also fascinating to hear the difference between Jim’s everyday, conversational voice as he addresses the camera and the kind of commercial voice he adopts for the client.

Warm, sincere, and earthy, and by that, I mean there is a slight “grain” or breathiness to his voice which he brings out more for the readthrough.

He keeps the volume under tight control and leans into the mic for a feel that seems instantly more intimate.

Jim’s voice sounds spot-on for the eco-awareness website that he’s promoting. But it would also be pitch-perfect for selling cars or voicing cinema trailers and the segments that fill the gaps between radio programs.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a cup of coffee

Here, voice actor Fabiano V. injects just enough enthusiasm into an 888 Poker commercial.

It’s a lively delivery, but it avoids sounding as if he’s in caffeine overdrive.

Sometimes, there can be a very fine line between right and wrong and Fabiano stays just the right side of landing his vocal punches without KO’ing our eardrums!

He comes across as youthful and energetic, maintaining clear intonation and cadence—no sudden peaks and plunges in the rhythm of his words.

It’s quick and bright, but it’s also clear. And because his voice sounds young, this will undoubtedly help the message connect with target audiences in his age group.


Hard Sell

choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a couch

Most of us will recognize a hard-sell type of delivery. It’s the VO we hear on the radio to advertise car dealerships or furniture warehouses where “Everything Must Go!”

The speech is loud and fast, helping to create a sense of urgency. It’s as if the store is burning down and you absolutely must buy something before it all goes up in flames!

With limited-time offers, that’s exactly what is needed. And it also works fantastically well with infomercials, closing-down sales, boys’ toys, and more.

If this sounds like what you need for your commercial, you’ll be looking for a voice talent who can pump up the volume to deliver precise words in a fast and edgy manner.

Typically, it’ll be a male voice as this type of explosive selling is predominantly pitched towards men.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a newspaper

Nicola B’s intimate delivery for this facial sheet mask is perfect for promoting a skin care product while providing the viewer with necessary information about its features and benefits.

It’s easy to become bored with informative content, but Nicola keeps listeners engaged with a voice that’s warm and inviting.

The soft, soothing background music sets the mood while she explains in pleasant tones how to apply the mask, seamlessly working in the product’s unique benefits and advantages as she does so.

Closing the pitch by softly upselling a moisturizer that is to be used following the mask, Nicola’s delivery is a masterclass of how a voice can subtly provide more value than simply delivering details.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a document

Narratives can be very long, going on page after page, and with so much information being conveyed over such a long period, the listener is bound to feel fatigued at some point.

But one of the key things that the voice-over artist can do to reduce listener burnout is to simply sound interested.

Once again, the voice talent is not just someone casually reeling off information; they must be an ambassador for it too.

It’s crucial that they sound as if the words they’re conveying matter to them.

Because here’s the thing: If the narrator sounds like they care about what they’re talking about, the audience is more likely to care too.

They should also sound credible.

For sure, if you need a great narrator to read your particle physics thesis, it’s unlikely they’re going to know as much about the subject as you do.

But that’s okay. Because there’s a vocal skill they can bring into play here.

As Bill DeWees explains, if the narrator sounds calm and confident, they’ll also sound knowledgeable (It’s how Mark Wahlberg could get away with playing a high school science professor in one of his films!)

Bill explains that when people understand a subject, they don’t sound nervous because the details are familiar to them. They don’t have to memorize the info, nor will they choke or stumble, worrying that they’ll forget what they’re supposed to say.

So it is, then, that if an audience hears a relaxed narrator, it’s easier for them to believe that the person is an expert.

E-learning courses need a long-form narrative style. If you’re auditioning voice talents for this type of project, you must pay attention to conversational voice dynamics and listen out for believable tones.

When they finish the readthrough, ask yourself whether you’re bored, or whether you want them to go on.

A good actor can bring a sparkle to almost any material that keeps learners listening.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of popcorn

Morgan Freeman is a good example of a “raspy” style performer, a performer in the mold of the prolific Don Lafontaine.

His voice is immediately appealing because it’s deep. But why should that be so?

Well, one study conducted at Pennsylvania State University found that males perceive deeper voices as being more dominant.

Another study published in the journal Plos One found that women’s preference for men with deep voices is linked to evolutionary preferences in body size (i.e. a deeper voice denotes a bigger body, and the bigger the body the better the man will be able to help in the baby-bearing department as well as fighting off hungry predators. Supposedly.)

In any case, it sounds like Morgan Freeman fits the bill either way!

His voice is appealing because it’s raspy but not too raspy. It’s easy to listen to.

So, even if you’re sitting in a cinema for ninety minutes while he narrates March of the Penguins, you don’t end up wishing the penguins would march that little bit faster. Rather, you’re enthralled and engaged, led on by his strong and steadfast voice.

This kind of voice talent suits all manner of masculine products and pursuits, as well as those deep-voiced adverts for ‘coming attractions’ at the cinema.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a sexy leg

Here’s Jessica W. with a delivery that is smooth and sexy.

When she talks it’s as if there’s a sultry smile in her voice. You can imagine buying lingerie, Belgian chocolates, Bentleys, and pretty much any other luxury item she recommends.

Benedict Cumberbatch is a prime representative for the other half of humanity with his equally sexy voice, probably put to its most hypnotic use as the dragon Smaug in The Hobbit.

It’s going to be hard to pull off a hard sell type of commercial using a sexy voice, but luring you towards buying expensive ice cream, watches, after-shave lotions, etc. is something this voice manages easily.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of drinks

A smooth voice-over sounds elegant and effortless. The stereotypical naturally silky delivery is something that you might hear from a late-night radio presenter on a jazz show.

Where novice actors will sometimes feel tempted to pause over certain words to add drama and will try too hard to be clear, to the point where their over-enunciating sounds unnatural, the seasoned actor’s voice just skates over every word, and nothing jars.

A natural, smooth-sounding voice comes with confidence and experience, but confidence and experience come from knowing you can read with a smooth-sounding voice (I think we have a chicken and egg thing going on here).

Smooth delivery suits many different applications, such as soft-selling commercials, “book at bedtime”-type storytelling, airline safety messages, public information announcements, and so on.


Soft Sell

choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a milk carton

If you’re selling travel destinations, sewing patterns, or flowers, you’re not going to hire the kind of voice talent that beats people over the head with urgency and volume.

Much better to lead your customers by the hand, so to speak, with persuasive tones and fewer words per minute.

Educated or older people are less impressed with hard sell tactics. They’ll be more convinced of a warm, conversational speaker who forgoes force and pushiness for more subtle and natural suggestion and persuasion.

Appealing to the intellect and the emotions is at the heart of soft selling. The voice can be male or female, smooth or gruff, but the approach will be more emphatic than others.

That is, it will need to relate to the audience and their world so that it can convince them that the product will meet their needs.

The British male voice in our above video is naturally soft, but a voice-over doesn’t have to be soft for the style to be considered “soft sell”. As long as the actor voices their lines with conviction but doesn’t convey an immediate and urgent call to action, it falls under this category.




Another type of voice that runs along the same personality lines as the “soft sell” is the conversational voice.

The actor addresses the audience in an engaging, casual way, prompting whoever is listening to feel like they’re part of a fun and interesting conversation with a pal.

This voice is all about creating a sense of connection and easy trust, as is obvious in the video above.



choose a voice over for your brand - illustration of a lamp

In a sense, a voice actor for an audiobook becomes a translator, taking the author’s original work and pushing it through the filter of their own interpretation.

A performer on an audiobook needs to be able to hold the listener’s attention for the long haul; for hours if necessary.

They become the director of a film that plays in the listener’s head, and to pull that off they need to be in control of everything.

The mood, the pace, the story setting, and the different characters’ voices are all flowing forth from the same mouth. The performer needs to be versatile enough in their delivery to create each element, make it stand out, and sustain that style.

Narration should sound different from dialogue, and dialogue must make the characters sound authentic and engaging.

It’s a juggling act. It’s also acting.

The voice must be easy to listen to, but not so soothing that you start to snooze, and not so grating that you leave the room.


And Finally, Some General Guidance…

Audition the voice talent

Most professionals will be happy to read a sample of your script in a style or styles that you specify. This is your best chance of finding out whether a voice actor is the right fit for your project, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Check previous experience

Testimonials and demos of previous work can also help you narrow down choices but don’t worry too much if someone you like hasn’t hit all the marks on the kind of job that you want.

Trust your instincts.

If you feel that someone is the perfect fit for your e-learning project but only has previous experience with car commercials, just go with your gut.

Everyone is a first-timer at some stage. And if they’ve shown professionalism in their previous projects then that’s a good guarantee they’ll pull out the stops for you.

Get voice talent recommendations from an agency

An experienced agent who knows the talents they are working with can easily narrow down choices so you don’t have to sift through hundreds of demos…

Provide technical specifications

You can minimize headaches by specifying exactly how you want the finished product to be labeled, the due date, and even what file type you need.

References like a draft of a video you’re working on, a YouTube video with the kind of delivery you’re looking for, or even directing the attention to a snippet in a voice actor’s demo that you liked—all of these can really help understand the direction you’re looking for and minimize errors and re-recordings.

The more specific you are about your requirements, the better.

Check out our extensive pool of professional voice talent, and feel free to contact us if you need help deciding on the best voice actor to rock your brand.

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  • Moira Tait May 11, 2021 Reply

    Great article and proves that our job is just not about simply reading from the script!

    • Voice Crafters May 11, 2021

      Thanks so much for your feedback Moira!

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