Before you can make your project come to life with the right voice over, you need to have a solid grasp on how to describe the tone you’re looking for.
This is notoriously difficult, because many people will simply say that they’ll ‘know it when they hear it’ when it comes to finding the right voice. However, the more specific you can be while articulating your vocal performance needs, the better the final product will be.
This holds true whether you’re providing a description of the sound you’re looking for in a job posting, while accepting auditions, or while providing creative direction to a voice actor you’ve hired.
Defining Tone and Voice
It’s highly beneficial to have a thorough understanding of the definitions of tone and voice.
The definition of tone is: the qualities of a voice that express the speaker’s emotions and attitude.
The definition of voice is: the sound uttered through an individual’s mouth, or the expression of an opinion or feeling.
When you combine the two, you’ll find that one cannot exist without the other. Every vocal utterance has a specific tonal quality, whether it’s natural or deliberately applied, so your duty is to pinpoint the ideal language to articulate the tone of voice that you’re looking for in a voice actor.
How to Find the Best Words to Describe Tone
When describing tone, you should outline as many details as possible, from the actual volume or pitch of the vocal delivery, to the emotional ambience that you’re aiming to create.
However, if you find yourself struggling to find the right words, Voices makes it easy to describe the tone you’re looking to achieve or emulate with your voice over, by providing you with dozens of pre-populated vocal attribute descriptions. These include accents, dialects, languages, roles, and styles.
Here’s an example of the top 25 words that Voices clients use to describe tone, from our list of available ‘vocal styles’:
You can also browse hundreds of words that describe tone on our Voice Actors Style page.
How Your Brand Sound Influences Your Description of Tone
Your brand sound, or sonic brand, is composed of the musical and vocal sounds that echo the emotion of your brand and form a connection with your audience. For all companies, it’s possible to weave these sounds throughout numerous channels and applications, from the sound of a company’s hold music, to backing tracks in ads, to commercial voice over, and more.
The difference between average organizations and the top brands in the world is their conscious consideration of the usage of sound, in terms of how it enhances the brand and the customer experience.
Similar to other branding elements, like brand colors, your sound will surface in different contexts but it still needs to create a consistent experience that ‘feels’ like it matches vibe of your brand and the context. In fact, modifying your sound based on the context is where the clever use of tone becomes an incredible tool. Tone can fluctuate, while sonic branding remains intact.
For instance, an automotive company that prides itself on rugged durability may use a commanding, gritty and masculine voice against a backdrop of electric guitar in its commercials to amp up the audience, but use a much softer and slower version of this low timbre voice in its ‘on hold’ voice over for the customer service line, where customers may need to be calmed down. In each case, the brand’s core (tough, rugged, durable) is communicated, while the tone changes from high energy to low energy, depending on the situation.
So, when thinking about the voice or sounds that you’re planning on using for various projects, you need to consider who your brand is at the core. What are your values? What are the top three descriptors that you want everyone to know you for (e.g. are you kind, soft, and comforting, or high energy, disruptive and innovative)? These elements need to remain central to any sonic project you take on.
Your core brand description should also be shared with any voice actor that you hire for a project. Having an understanding of the ultimate vibe that you want people to associate with your brand will inform the performance, helping the actor highlight the vocal qualities to match your brand. Meanwhile, your description of tone will enable them to achieve the right read for the situation.
Defining Your Brand Sound Is an Essential Component of Hiring Voice Over
Your overall brand sound is comprised of a lot more than the mere services you provide or the product that you’re selling. A robust branding strategy will take into account the feelings and associations that instantly come to mind when a member of your audience hears the name of your brand.
A lot more goes into forging your brand sound than simply building standalone audio elements like a sonic logo, or adorning your ad campaign with a catchy jingle.
Defining and designing the usage of your overarching brand sound will impact everything from the hold music that plays when customers contact you by phone, to the voice over characters you create and the voice actors you ultimately cast to bring those characters to life.
The important part is blending these sonic elements into one cohesive whole through the employment of a thoroughly evaluated sonic marketing strategy. Once you’ve compiled a list of words to describe tone that effectively convey your brand sound, you ought to incorporate these same words and vocal styles into your voice actor job postings or casting calls, in order to give auditioning voice actors a sense of how to perform a delivery of your script that aligns with your branding.
Only after you’ve put careful consideration into devising your brand voice will every single one of your brand’s sonic elements begin to play their part in contributing to an overall sound that is unified and resonant.