Why is regional voice over talent so important? It’s all relative

Posted by Kerry Vallins on June 13, 2017

Sourcing voice over talent should never be a monotonous task. There are all sorts of factors to consider such as authority, tone of voice, and in some cases, regional dialect.

Want to learn more about how professional voice over talent can help you communicate effectively with your audience? Read our blog, ‘4 good reasons to source from a professional voice over agency.’

A clear voice with little or no trace of an accent has historically been favoured in commercial broadcasting and advertising (think about BBC English, for instance). Decades ago, this would be a prerequisite for any professional voice over artist.

However, today there is a very healthy market for regional voice over talent. In fact, accents can add a huge amount of character to localised campaigns. Even in national campaigns, regional voices can provide brand authority to a business and add a sense of culture to an advertisement.

For example, the UK’s BBC boasts a wonderfully-Welsh BBC newsreader Huw Edwards. On a very simple level, some regional accents say “We’re just like you, and what we’re saying is real – it matters. Of course, the clich’s also abound – Italian voice over artists hired to narrate pizza restaurants and French voice talent used to market products related to love (such as chocolates and engagement rings). It just feels like a natural fit. 

Should you be adding a local dialect when you commission voice over talent?

This is a tactic that can help position a brand. Remember when Jon Hamm was hired by American Airlines to front its commercials? His smooth, dulcet, instantly recognisable tones were the perfect accompaniment to portray the airline’s international standing and give the ad some gravitas.

Not every brand can commission a Jon Hamm to fulfil their voice over needs, unfortunately. However, with a little bit of thought and planning, a regional voice over campaign can use a local artist to make a big impression on an audience.

So how does this work? Some studies suggest that, when it comes to local voice over campaigns, people can be attracted to voices similar to their own as it produces a sense of familiarity and belonging. It’s a social phenomenon, and a study held by Babel in Mississippi proved that the majority have a natural preference toward voices and dialects that mirror their own community

Though regional voice over talent can help to strengthen a brand’s message, it’s not a certain win in the world of advertising. Hiring a voice actor who specialises in a regional accent may very well help you to reach out to new customers, but there is also a chance that this tactic may backfire if not approached with enough thought.

Can a local dialect also prove detrimental to your campaign?

Over in England, a survey by the British government found that people from specific regions simply hated hearing the sound of their own local dialect in commercials.

Communities in Newcastle, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham were surveyed, representing a good cross-section of the English population. Wildly different results showed that while most respondents from Newcastle were comfortable – proud, even – of hearing their own dialect in local government commercials, people from Birmingham were more likely to reach for the ‘OFF’ switch.

The survey discovered that age played a part in the results, too. Older age groups preferred pronounced pronunciation, the traditional BBE English accent, while younger demographics were more open to listening to local dialects.

The solution? Research your audience and the demographics you wish to reach out to before you hire professional voice over talent. Do some forward planning and invest in market research. Test your commercials with a selection of people and really get to know their opinions before choosing an artist who can deliver your message in the best possible way.

Voice Talent Online has more than 1,500 voice actors for clients to choose from, including talent able to perform in a number of local and regional accents from areas across the globe. Contact us to find out more.

Want to learn more about how professional voice over talent can help you communicate effectively with your audience? Read our blog, ‘4 good reasons to source from a professional voice over agency.’


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