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2021: The voice trends to listen out for

Jan 13, 2021
Hannah Ralph
Global Head of Voice
"Between the rise of podcasts, the viral trend of relaxing, softly-voiced ASMR videos, or the voice recognition assistants like Siri and Alexa who are always by our sides, the consumption of and focus on voice is bigger than ever before. If there’s one thing we can be sure of, it’s that the power of voice will continue to be amplified in 2021."


Speaking authentically:

One of the most striking features of this rising trend, is that there’s space for all voices. For decades, the clarity and perfect diction of the American standard and RP voice has dominated the airwaves of TV and Radio. And while this style certainly still has its place, it’s exciting to hear that the industry had made room for a new generation of authentic, accented voices. Today, hearing the twang of the Southern States, a Latin lilt, or a raft of UK regional accents is the new norm in a variety of different campaigns. These voices have real personality; speak of home, community, and identity; and showcase a fresher, more conversational style of delivery. 


A great example of this is Brian Cox’s recent role in McDonalds’ ‘It’s Perfect Made Perfecter’ campaign, where their iconic auto-tuned ‘ba da ba ba ba’ is replaced by Cox’s raspy voice just not quite hitting the note we’re used to hearing, creating an atmosphere of total normalcy and – despite the campaign’s name – a sense of human imperfection and realness. This wholly unexpected choice of voice earned huge praise from the industry and wider media, with Brady Langmann of Esquire Magazine saying:

“There’s no voice in the world I expected to hear less in this ad. But it was meant to be.”


Another of the most important features of the growing voice trend in 2020 was the amplification of marginalised voices, such as State Farm’s ‘Black Voices’ campaign, in which we hear the voice of Janice Gray, a State Farm agent from Memphis. This shift is allowing brands to create a more human, personable identity that consumers can truly connect with. The overall effect is that people feel like they’re involved in a direct conversation with a brand, rather than being broadcasted to. 



“This new era of refreshing, conversational delivery creates the feel of a real, down-to-earth human being – making listeners feel like they’re speaking directly to the voice of a brand.”


The Global Influence:

The global reach of these voices on platforms such as YouTube and Spotify is also having an impact on the way we speak. This is heard most clearly in children, whose accents can be easily influenced – and American dominance in global media means this accent is now being heard in children from other countries. In turn, this demonstrates the immense power that voice has on our psyche – not only can it influence the way we speak, but the way we behave. The significance of this influence also has the power to define trends in voice artistry too. As more ears and tongues become used to this style of speech – from a young age – consumers are likely to become all the more receptive to it. And this has the potential to lead more companies towards this vocal identity – no matter where their geographical location.

Finding your brand voice:

Alongside the increased consumption, we’ve also seen a rise in voice-activated technology – introducing the ability to place orders by voice alone. Now that voice is becoming a central part of not just the consumer experience, but the buying journey, it’s something brands are paying even greater attention to. Just like visual identity, a voice must be perfectly matched to a company’s values and ethos. Gender, age, style, intonation, and delivery all play their part in reflecting the personality of a business – whether that’s a quirky, vibrant voice for a tech start-up; a friendly, reassuring tone for a local vet surgery; or a strong and authoritative timbre for an insurance or legal firm. The possibilities that voice artistry presents are endless. And as brands work to differentiate with vocal identity, we’ll see a move away from robotic sounding presets, to an altogether more authentic, human approach.

In 2021, we expect to see an increasing number of companies investing in voice as a key brand asset, alongside their visual and musical identity. PHMG is ready to help companies explore, define and really harness the power of their unique voice.