As more and more organizations incorporate Youtube and other rich media into their marketing strategies, there appears to be a shift in website presentation; videos have begun to replace the “About Us” blocks of text.
These introductory videos can take on one of two forms: the “welcome” video that provides a general overview of the company or the “how to” video for introducing a new product or feature.
For the former, check out the gadget guys at Gizmodo who created a video that reflects the atmosphere of the website: a place for the “not your average nerds” to share breaking stories on all things cutting edge– from photography to video games to military technology. Their introduction video is directed towards mid 20s males, and is almost like a movie trailer – inspirational music set to a barrage of images, interspersed with authentic interviews from the staff.
For the latter, there are two examples. This video introducing Google Buzz is tailored for social sharing for all ages– its cartoon style friendly, the music peaceful. The voice is also an “authentic” representative of Google, presumably one of the developers or an employee of the Google Buzz team. Another example is Howcast – their videos are quirky and informative, tailored towards hip, Internet savvy users (mostly university-goes) immersed in social media.
What do these videos have in common? They go by the philosophy that they are talking directly to the consumer: “isn’t it best to have an employee or program developer be the image of our company? Wouldn’t that establish brand loyalty and authenticity more than a professional voice?”
I counter with this statement: you rarely see television commercials where an employee or developer introduces a product – at least, not without makeup, a script, and careful planning. And if you do see this, the employees chosen are usually articulate, attractive, and have a presence (a la Gizmodo).
Frankly, the Google Buzz voice conveys none of these traits: it is soft-spoken, nervous, and inarticulate. Howcast’s videos are 50/50: their videos utilize youthful voices that are articulate, though inexperienced.
"Having the right voice,” is a skill gained from years of hard work and experience– something the average person does not have. And listeners / customers know this – they can tell if a voice is unprofessional or unconfident. Just like the eye picks up body language, the ear picks up voice. Having a professional voice talent with years of experience, who can customize their presentation depending on the target audience, is an invaluable asset to the company – especially due to the rise of embedded video.
It is time that the taboo surrounding the “impersonality” of professional voice is dispelled. A professional voice does not signify “commercial” or “please press one.” Most professional voice talent had/have careers in radio and theatre.
If you are planning a company video, take a step back and say: “the voice I choose is going to be the cornerstone of my company’s public image. When individuals hear this voice, they are going to associate it with my company.”