Over the past few years I’ve been selected to voice numerous ‘corporate’ type pieces, from presentations, to product demonstrations/infomercials and other corporate marketing audios. Sometimes, when I’ve asked my client as to the preferred reading style, the response can be along the lines of ‘fairly natural, just be yourself’. However, the reality of ‘just being yourself’ is that, when they hear the ‘natural’ version as opposed to a more formal ‘corporate’ read, that is more informative but lacking the emotion of a more natural interpretation, some still opt for the latter.
Right up until the mid 1950’s, here in the UK we were used to BBC Received Pronunciation English in television and theatre drama (with the likes of John Osbourne’s Look Back In Anger) and radio/TV announcing; it’s only in more recent years that we are becoming more accustomed to a more natural sound.
The question is…is there a general trend of moving towards the natural corporate voiceover, or do we still prefer a more formal corporate sound?
There is a school of thought that the formal corporate sound – clear and precise as it tends to be, enhances the information giving process better when less emotion is involved in the voice.
It’s possible that companies use a more formal style either in order to be taken more seriously or professionally by the listener, or based on what might have historically been the more accepted style.
Whether or not to adopt a natural style on a corporate voice over seems to be where consideration is given to choice of voice over and vocal style to reflect the company image, and/or target market and their perceived expectations, but also how the listener is meant to think/feel/respond about either the message and/or the company.
I think there will continue to be both objective and subjective viewpoints. I generally offer both styles to my own clients, and give them the choice from short samples.
I’m not sure that a more informal, natural sound will ever be used universally however. Can you imagine voicing an introduction to Buckingham Palace in natural ‘street’ parlance for example? Neither can I…mind you, that could be fun!