The human voice can convey at least 24 different emotions, without even saying a word. The thousands of variations of non verbal sighs, gasps and chuckles we emit throughout our days communicate so much rich emotional information. So when creating a brand voice, it needs to speak with the right pitch, range, speed and auditory tone to get across your message.
According to research by Prof Albert Mehrabian, words shockingly account for only 7% of communication. How something is said is far more important than the words used when conveying meaning. The brand voice is a direct personification of what your brand stands for.
Building a cohesive brand voice across channels is key to building a deeper connection with the consumers, with immense ability to build brand recognition and loyalty. When we recognise and feel comfortable with the voice, we feel much more positive towards the brand. We look at a few of the best, and why they work so well.
M&Ms: consistent jokers
M&Ms make great use Oscar winner J.K. Simmons and veteran voice actor Billy West to voice their iconic Red and Yellow characters for the past 20 years, building recognisable and endearing characters that consumers have grown to love.
For 50 years, the M&M’s spokescandies have projected the brand’s witty and entertaining Jester Archetype. The vocal talents of this comedy pairing bring this to life and give the brand a strong presence off shelf.
The M&M’s spokescandies’ voices were originally designed to be cute for children yet wisecracking and witty in attitude to generate teen and adult appeal. However in 2007 Mars, M&M’s parent company, took the pledge not to market to children, allowing the to humour to adapt with this focus in mind.
The voice resonates with consumers regardless of plot and interlocking narratives- the M&M ads sometimes feature ongoing storylines, but also allude to a life and world beyond, and adapt to many commercial applications. Throughout, the values of the brand voice remain so consistent globally, that the characters can even be voiced by different actors in non-English-speaking territories.
Old Spice: reaching a new generation
Old Spice have reinvented their brand voice to make themselves relevant to a younger generation. Realising that they were rapidly losing market share to brands such as Lynx, they undertook a radical shift in brand voice to embrace a newfound fun and quirky personality, and established a consistent tone of voice to share that personality with the world.
Elisting Dean Cole, actor from hit show Black-ish, as their global brand ambassador, his ‘The Man Your Man Could Smell Like’ campaign has racked up more than 55 million views to date.
The iconic American brand continues to evolve and listen to what their audience want, bringing a refreshing down to earth humour men’s grooming, a sector where macho perfectionism is the norm. This allowed them to attract like-minded consumers who resonate with that voice, regaining new market share.
M&S Food: deliciously distinctive
M&S Food’s sultry, seductive, Nigella Lawson-esque voice is rather tongue in cheek, aware of how over-the-top it is. It communicates the indulgent, rich qualities of the food exceptionally well, and the first ad with this voice, for a chocolate pudding, saw sales rise 3,500%, according to The Guardian.
It’s so distinctive that they were even able to parody themselves, with an ad campaign that showed everyday voices of train announcers, tv salesmen and dog walkers switching into the distinctive ‘food porn’ tone of voice.
Compare the Market: accents and wordplay
Created in 2009, Aleksandr Orlov is the meerkat mascot of price comparison website Comparethemarket.com, bringing much loved levity and humour to a traditionally rather businesslike sector.
As well as harnessing the public’s love of cute furry animals, the voiceover is a key reason for the campaign's success. The distinct Russian accent and playful use of language with their memorable catchphrases, puns and malapropisms, highly endearing and unique brand voice has created connection and loyalty with a wide audience base. Simples.
O2: perfectly consistent
O2 are another brand who most often use their brand voice without a visual representation. This allows them to be even more fluid and dynamic with who they target and how. However they are always consistent in their use of voiceover actor Sean Bean since 2002.
Initially, Bean’s voice, and therefore the voice of 02, was rather serious: cool and calculated, focusing on the services, quality and exclusive benefits. However as the years went on and O2’s customer base grew and became more broad, the voice of the campaigns grew to become warmer, more creative and funnier, while still incorporating the recognisable voice of Bean.
O2’s ‘Be More Dog’ campaign stands for the same values of quality, aspiration and experience, but is more appealing to a new, wider demographic through humour, resonation and projecting modern lifestyle traits.
The Power of Voice
Consistent brand voice builds consumer trust. We’re naturally drawn to brands that speak our language, and express values that we share, especially when this is done in distinctive and entertaining ways. Voice is a powerful tool to speak directly to your audience, foster connection and create your identity.