Often, auditions will come in to me with specs requesting a read “Like the [insert product here] commercial.” But does matching the sound of a great commercial make the voiceover (VO) for your video great too? Not necessarily.

Setting aside writing and filming or animation – where I make no claims of expertise; and assuming well-performed VO – which you get by hiring a professional (nudge, nudge), there’s another factor that can make or break your video: matching the tone of the VO to the style of the visuals.

When tone and visual style work together, there’s a transparency to the effort that lets your message shine through. But when they don’t match, the message is muddied by the disconnect.

As a case study, let’s go back to our bananas. You remember the bananas from my last post, right?

In the BQ video, there was a cute quirkiness and a swift pace to the visuals. The tone was funny and friendly, and the VO mirrored that style by moving at a brisk pace and containing a lot of smile and a bit of casual hipness.

Let’s see what happens if the same video is paired with VO in a more serious tone.

Your eyes see cute and cheerful, but your ears hear somber. It creates a sort of mental itch. Not to mention that script elements like “chock full” sound completely unnatural.

One more example – what if the VO was super energetic?

Yikes. That VO is better suited to hyper visuals and flash cuts.

So, as cool as that latest commercial might be, don’t lose sight of your ultimate goal – to make the viewer remember your message. And to do that, you want the tone of the visuals and VO to harmonize seamlessly.

 

Kendra Hoffman renounced her engineering ways to become a voice actor specializing in making copy sound smart. Her studio is based in Minneapolis, though she’s been heard around the world. Her geek cred is substantial. Read Kendra’s other blog posts.