Finding the Right Voice for Your Script

Best Practice Series

Finding the right voice for your script.

What is voice? We often use the term “voice” when talking about writing. But what exactly does it mean? “Voice” refers to the tone or character of a text. It describes how a text sounds to the reader.

In fact, you’re already familiar with the idea of voice, even if you don’t realize it.

Think about three different texts: a detective novel, a computer manual, and a text message from your best friend. Each text “sounds” very different. The detective novel is dark and suspenseful, and probably has a lot of descriptions of characters and settings. The computer manual is dry, impersonal, and uses technical jargon. The text message from your friend is, well, friendly, and might include an inside joke. You would never confuse the text message with the computer manual or the novel. That’s because the person who wrote each piece of prose used a distinct voice.

Voice In Commercial Writing

So what does voice have to do with script writing?

Here’s the thing: voice is an essential element of any text, including commercial writing. As we’ve seen, voice is what sets one type of writing apart from other types. A blog post sounds informal and opinionated, for example, while a white paper sounds impersonal and data-driven. Being aware of differences in voice will help you develop the right script for your video.

Find Your Brand Voice

Even before you start writing a script, you need to decide what your brand’s voice is. Brand voice is like brand identity, but in word form. You probably spent countless hours thinking about the visual elements that would make up your brand identity: the logo, the font, the colors.

Your brand voice needs just as much attention because it’s going to impact how customers perceive your brand when they watch your video. Figure out what feelings you want to evoke in the customer when they hear the voice of your brand.

So if your brand could speak, how would it sound? Imagine your brand as a character in a play or a movie, and picture how they would talk. Would their voice be fun and creative, or solid and trustworthy? Would they be young or old, male or female? What words would they use or avoid? Answering these questions will help you form a clearer idea of your brand voice.

Your Audience's Voice

Ultimately, you want your company voice to connect with your customer base. People connect with someone like them. Picture your typical customer. How do they talk? Having a vivid picture of your customer might help you clarify ideas about your brand voice.

How voice will be used in your video

Next, you have to think about how that voice will be used in your video. After all, when you’re making a video, “voice” won’t be an abstract concept anymore. It will be a literal, human voice that your audience hears.

1. Manager, employee, or customer?

Who is the best person to embody your brand voice and get it across to the viewer? This depends a lot on the type of video you are producing and whether it’s story-driven or explanatory.

Your brand could be represented by the authoritative voice of a manager, or the friendly voice of a factory worker or customer service rep. It could be the excited voice of a devoted customer. Or it could be a neutral narrator, as in an explanatory video.

2. Actors or employees?

Next you have to decide between using actors and real employees/customers. Actors might be a good choice if you have a very specific idea of how your brand needs to sound—gender, age, accent. The downside is cost and a possible loss of authenticity.

Using actual people who work at your company or buy your products might seem more genuine to the viewer. On the other hand, you have less control of exactly how these brand representatives will sound, and they may need more time with a script than a trained actor.

Blending voices

Of course, using actors and non-professionals together in the same video can be a great way to blend various voices into your overall brand voice. However you do it, the important thing is to be aware of voice and how it contributes to your brand image.

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