How brands choose their voice

Sep 26, 2018

With more brands moving away from selling products in favour of selling experiences and feelings, having a recognisable and effective brand voice goes a long way towards helping connect and engage with consumers. So as companies jostle and fight to establish themselves in an increasingly saturated market, we're exploring how this distinctly human style of branding is helping companies make themselves heard above the sea of noise.

The Internet Advertising Bureau – a trade association that represent over 1,200 UK brands – has recently conducted a study titled 'Finding Your Voice'. They've delved into the hot topic of voice – voice recognition technology – and how it's used in digital marketing – and their findings suggest there are lots of aspects to consider for a brand when establishing their voice. While AI is viewed as fundamental to the development of voice technology, it's thought that the human element is perhaps more important than ever when it comes to provoking an emotional response in the consumer.

Language, content, tone, and accent – these are just a few of the elements which contribute to how a voice is responded to, and companies must carefully select each to achieve the message they wish to deliver. Sophie Scott, Neuroscientist at University College London and one of the experts consulted as part of the IAB's research, says "Advertisers should use voice like a painter, using a vocal palette to convey emotional states and improve engagement with listeners". Scott suggests a voice actor is an artist just like a painter; and just as the latter uses different strokes, colours and effects to evoke different emotions, the former may adjust their delivery, inflection, or emphasis.

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Like all art, there is no winning formula or fool-proof method. Just because one approach works for a company, does not mean it will be effective for another. Some businesses wish to portray themselves as down-to-earth and approachable, while others exude luxury and exclusivity. Just as every person is different, so is every company, their objectives, and their demographic – and it is this uniqueness that is making brands turn towards the real life in an attempt to recapture the human touch in a digital climate.

It's a concept that global media agency, Mindshare, has investigated during the development phase of their Chatbot. They studied voice in the more traditional channel of call centres, and found that UK consumers respond best to Scottish accents, as opposed to Midlands or South West dialects. But the answer is never so simple. Now, there's even technology which enables companies to use the customers own voice back to them when marketing products. While this may seem a little extreme, and perhaps strange and uncomfortable, it is impossible to say for certain what could be most effective for a brand. A voice may change from campaign to campaign, and there is an argument for regional marketing, but ultimately a brand must reflect real life and find a way to best appeal to their target audience.

It is a challenge, but one we rise to at PHMG. We've developed a vast portfolio of voice talent from across the globe, and select the speaker that's the perfect match to represent each of our clients. We do this based on the inherently human personality traits of a company – whether they're friendly, humorous, professional, trustworthy or any other adjective that suggests their identity. And in doing so, we give them a real, human persona that makes them wholly relatable to the customer.