Let’s explore voiceover in Brand Imaging. Brand Imaging TV is a unique sub-genre under the Big Umbrella of Commercial Voiceover – and is born of the magical confluence of a copywriter’s words, a visual artist’s images, and an actor’s grasp of the human condition as expressed in his or her voice. The best Brand Imaging commercial voice actors know they are team players here, that they’re one link in the chain of creatives bringing to life a thirty or sixty-second piece of advertising magic.
Voiceover in Brand Imaging
With Brand Imaging, the voiceover is not the primary conveyor of information. The picture is. Nor do we provide the emotion. The music does. In fact, we shouldn’t be “emoting” at all. If we emote our way through Brand Imaging TV copy, we’ll be battling the music, creating discord that no casting director, let alone consumer, wants to hear.
What, then, is the role of voiceover in such a TV commercial? It’s a lot less than you think. The role of the voice actor in this sub-genre is to plainly state the facts and give foundational support to the main players (the picture and music) with language.
Imagine to Voice
Let’s talk about Imagination. Humans don’t speak with one another because our voices “sound interesting.” We speak in response to one another. So why would “having a great voice” be the primary component of a compelling voiceover? Speaking in a response implies we have listened. Listening is first in any great acting approach, and it’s where the power of your imagination comes in. Who are you speaking to? A large crowd? To one person? A stranger? Are you speaking to your spouse, child, or best friend? Your ability to imagine the answers to these questions is also at the root of your most authentic and compelling voiceover performance.
Recognising Brand Imaging
How can you recognize a Brand-Imaging TV spot when it hits your
- A Brand Imagining Commercial will always have pictures, whether on tv, the web, or social media. It should be obvious, but radio commercials can’t be imaging spots. They might have music but never picture, so the voiceover, necessarily, becomes the primary conveyor of information. If you turn the sound down on a radio commercial, you got nothin’.
- The product name is nowhere to be found. If the brand name is in the copy, it will most likely be in the last line. More often, the brand name will appear on a title card at the end, never to be voiced by anyone. Remember, we are not selling products in Brand Imaging commercials. We are conveying the image of the brand. There are exceptions, but wherever the rule is broken, the spirit of the rule will remain.
- The writing (in theory) will be exemplary. Brand imaging spots, particularly those made for prime-time network TV, are the most expensive buys in advertising. They’re created by the best ad agencies in the world, employing the best creatives and writers – writers with advanced degrees in English who place punctuation exactly where they want it and mean Every. Single. Word. They. Write. With Brand Imaging TV, the writing will move you – heart, mind, and soul. It will compel your respect.
Brand Imaging Voiceover Summary
The rules for this genre are simple: Let picture and music do their jobs. State the facts, hold off the emotion, and bring meaning the way only a human voice can: with language. Simple, yes. But not easy. Approaching Brand Imaging will initially make you uncomfortable because you’ll feel, like the cast of Seinfeld, that you’re doing nothing. But by adhering to Brand Imaging rules, you’ll be contributing more to the commercial than you know. It will take time before the read feels natural to you. And finally, to be successful at it, you must throw off your notions of “sounding good,” having a “great voice,” and that the voiceover artist is the “star” of the commercial.
In the end, the answer to getting comfortable with the Brand Imaging read is the same as the answer to the question “How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?” Practice, practice, practice.
~ Kay Bess – voice actor and coach – kaybess.com – trustandbebrave.com