Your brand’s voice – the voice-over talent used in your online marketing videos, TV & radio spots, even your phone prompts – is a key part of your business strategy. When your customers hear that voice, they know it’s you. But now, you’re ready to go into markets outside the US. How do you get talents that do the same thing for your brand – in multiple languages?
This post lists 5 tips to help you cast your brand’s voice in foreign markets.
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Multilingual voice-over recording for corporations & brands
This post will take the perspective of a US-based marketing manager, creative director, producer, or anyone else tasked with managing casting and voice recording for a brand going overseas. Effectively, we’ll assume that the source content is in US English. That said, this advice should also be useful for companies expanding into the US market.
Let’s jump right in.
1. Go to your in-country marketing managers.
Your in-country marketing managers know their locale, as well as how your brand is positioning itself within it, better than anyone. Their advice and feedback will prove invaluable during the casting process. And during translation, transcreation, and audio production, they can make sure terminology is consistent, implement local usage, and provide feedback on tone and performance.
2. Don’t expect to replicate your English-language voice exactly
Your US English voiceover talent is terrific. You can’t imagine a better voice for your brand. Naturally, you want to match this voice as closely as possible in your foreign markets.
Except that each marketplace has different cultural expectations. What might work well for you in the US may not be as great elsewhere. For example, Japanese voiceover has certain broadcast standards which listeners expect, and which may not line up to your English-language performance completely.
Aside from cultural differences, each actor is unique. A Spanish voiceover actor who matches your brand’s energy and professionalism in a Latin American context, for example, may not have the same voice profile (pitch, tone, breathiness, timbre, etc.) as your English-language one.
Your in-country marketing managers will be invaluable here – they’ll know when an actor is just right for your local market, even if they don’t sound exactly like your US voice.
3. Allow time for the casting process.
Your US-based marketing team spent countless hours casting just the right actor. They waded through submissions, discussed each one at length, and possibly asked for multiple rounds of call-backs. Casting is a complex – and no less so in foreign languages.
In fact, foreign languages can add challenges. For example, some languages don’t have as many speakers as US English – there are approximately 95 million native German speakers, and that affects the overall number of German voiceover talents available. (Don’t worry – there are still plenty of great German talents.) The takeaway – allow healthy casting timelines for foreign languages.
4. Make sure your voice talent is native.
It’s impossible for a non-native speaker of a language – say, French – to tell whether someone else is or isn’t native. And actors with basic fluency or even a little high school French apply for French voiceover jobs all the time – this is true in all languages. Moreover, you don’t want to get into the final round of auditions to find that your favorite talent has a non-native accent. Therefore, make sure you cast through a multimedia localization vendor that guarantees native fluency – like JBI Studios.
5. Select an actor with the right resting voice.
This voice actor will do a lot of work for you, over many years. He or she will record hundreds of hours of audio, video dubbing, phone prompts, promos, app strings – and anything else that’s part of your multimedia suite. Therefore, try to cast the actor for his or her “resting voice” – a voice that’s not too far from their natural speaking voice. Accents, pitch changes and tonal variations are hard to maintain, especially during long sessions and over long periods of time.
Bonus tip – start localization casting early
Marketing localization timelines are often compressed – that’s just the nature of the industry. But casting takes time. Remember, you’re often casting from smaller native-speaker populations, and having to get buy-in from in-country managers as well as your US-based marketing team. And actors don’t always respond to casting calls the first day they’re up – if they’re on a film set or long VO project, they may not submit for a few days. So start casting as early as possible in your localization timeline. This will give you the best chance to find the right voices – ones that will strengthen your brand presence outside the US.