The voice isn’t just a show, it’s a powerful asset for your brand if you use the right one

By Jim James,

Founder EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast

Ant Bohun is an international sound specialist who does voiceovers for companies large and small. He believes hiring a professional to do a voiceover is worth the investment in getting the right voice for the brand. As they say, "If you think it’s expensive to hire professional, hire an amateur first." There are some voices that when you hear it, you automatically know the brand it represents. A good voiceover has a pleasant voice yet gets the message across, and that requires skill and practice in taking direction and delivering the read that suits the brand.

When deciding on what voice could best represent a brand, it depends on the industry and the company being represented. For instance, a corporate bank could hire someone with a prestigious-sounding voice, a voice that commands attention and evokes the feeling that this company is very successful. If it’s a bank that’s appealing to the general public such as families, it’s going to be spoken in such a different way. It could need a warm voice that speaks directly to the listeners. Whether the spokesperson should be a female or male or needs both a female and male, it depends on the campaign itself, and these decisions would be made by an advertising agency or a creative director. The client would choose the best option out of the ones presented, and then the campaign is developed from there. 

How to find the right voiceover artist for the job

Years ago, people would need to contact a voiceover agency that would have many people on their books. But nowadays with the world being on the internet, there are many voiceover agencies online that represent major actors and people who do voiceovers for a living, and there’s a distinction that needs to be made to that. Voiceover actors might not necessarily be screen actors, but there are people who make their living from doing purely voiceovers and taking direction from directors and advertising agencies or wherever the session is being recorded. There are also people like Ant who run their own voiceover businesses online. A simple Google search will provide anyone with many options to choose from, whether male or female or with a specific accent, and the beauty of this is you can deal directly with voiceover artists without having to go through an agency, although it’s not always going to be the case if you are thinking of hiring specific actors. Nevertheless, there are many websites to choose voiceovers from and have a listen to see if they’d be the right fit. Voiceover artists will normally display a compilation of past work for prospective clients to have a listen to, and these can be downloaded and sent to other staff members for a second opinion.

In terms of pricing, it depends on the location. There are different rate cards around the world, and ideally, these are preferred because it works better for everybody in the industry. However, more often than not, direct negotiation with the voiceover artist can be done too. In terms of the license, because the client has paid the fee that was negotiated with either the voiceover artist or the agent, that audio is the client’s property. For something like a telephone on hold message, there is no need to pay for residuals or rollovers, but for a television commercial, licences are usually valid for around 12 months and then the artist would need to be paid for the next 12 months, although again, it varies from country to country. 

Professional vs. amateur

Photo from ProVoiceUSA

Companies sometimes turn to their own staff to do the voiceovers, but there are many reasons it could go bad. That person who isn’t a professional could clam up and may sound not appealing when trying to represent a business or product. Whereas with a voiceover professional, this person who does it for a living will look at a script, find out exactly what the client wants the listeners to feel, and nail that message. That’s the value in hiring someone who does voiceovers for a living rather than hiring an amateur or just anyone in the company.

Anyone knows that winning an award is a big deal, and in fact, Ant won an award in 2019 for a documentary that he did a voiceover on. The documentary was about bushfires and wild fires in Australia, and it was for the Country Fire Authority, which is the Volunteer Fire Brigade. Ant’s voice for this was serious, because it was dealing with a pretty bleak subject matter, but at the same time, it kept the viewers interested and got the facts across.

Choosing the right voice to get the message across is the main thing. Certainly, with radio and TV commercials, people will choose a voice appropriate to whether it’s direct advertising or whether it’s something that needs to be warm, sentimental, and heartfelt. Those are two different reads. While some voiceover artists are not actors, they are essentially actors as well, because they are acting. They are taking the script and then bringing it to life by interpreting what they are given. Another benefit of working with an experienced person is they’ll be able to provide tips or work out a better way of saying a sentence or getting a message across. Ultimately, hiring a professional like Ant is worth considering when you want to make sure the brand is represented by the right voice. To find out more about Ant and his services, there is the voiceover side to his business and the sound engineering side of his business.

This article is based on a transcript from my Podcast SPEAK|pr, you can listen here.

Cover Photo from Ant Bohun

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