In a world full of noise and everyone scrambling to be heard in one way or another, how do we set our content apart and use the power of sound to our full advantage?
When we think about sound, we don’t just think about the physical, sonic tones presented to us. Upon hearing a sound, you can be transported back to a memory, a smell, a place or particular person can materialise in your mind. The relationship between sound and emotion has become a vast subject of academic research and exploration.
There’s something about a sound that can evoke a wave of nostalgia in all of us.
Additionally, the advancement of affordable content creation tools has created a noticeable increase in the creation of video and animated content that is missing arguably one of the most critical and potent connections to their audience: a human voice.
This is particularly common for small marketing companies looking to offer low priced or even fixed price content creation at highly reduced budgets by removing the cost of voice. Some small companies will even go as far as to justify the removal of voice as an ‘added frivolous luxury that adds only minimal value’.
Any business owner or marketer hopes their content will go viral, and of course there are plenty of examples of viral videos without voiceovers. Take the John Lewis Christmas ads. They succeeded in capturing the nations hearts, but were also noticeably devoid of captions. It’s a visual way of telling a story. The story is created with visual being the primary focus, therefore the lack of subtitles isn’t detrimental in this case.
However, if your story cannot be told without words, then you need to be certain that the words of your script alone are compelling and effective enough to replace the intended emotional conjuring a voiceover brings to the production.
The importance of sound
There is no denying in this social media age we find ourselves in, that subtitles and closed captions in production are also a growing necessity. We have morphed into a ‘scrolling generation’, and want quick, fast media served to us as we juggle our busy lives, and who can blame us?! We have a million and one things to do and places to be, we don’t always have the time to stop and listen. Sometimes we need to consume our information on the move and a quick glance at a phone and text on the screen will suffice. However, in this ever-changing world, how much do we lose in our increasingly impersonal culture?
Subtitles provide us the information directly, they are easy. You want the info? Bam! You got it. Everything out there in front of you ready to digest. But what about the feeling, the sentiment and the story behind the words?
When looking at the advertising industry, one of the most notable examples to draw upon would be those ever-so familiar Mark’s and Spencer’s food advertisements. Of course, the visual of a hot, oozing chocolate pudding being drenched in smooth, rich cream looks appealing (I mean, we’re only human right?), but take away the voiceover’s husky, sensual tones describing the food on show and the image is all we are left with. Her tone of voice depicts a sense of longing and desire for the food, and there is no denying that this feeling transfers to the viewer. It is contagious, it is simple and it is so undeniably effective.
I have on many occasion found myself watching one of those adverts with a full stomach after a huge meal, not able to entertain the idea of fitting in another morsel. But low and behold that voice soothes out of my television and suddenly I have room for more. The role of the voiceover here isn’t just to describe the visual to us, but to take us on a journey throughout those 15 seconds of your valuable time, making us feel that we are there in the moment.
We are given the opportunity to reminisce about how we felt the last time we ate what was being shown to us, remember how it tasted, how it smelt, who we were with; something a snippet of text in the foot of the screen just cannot replicate.
Nostalgia – It’s in all of us
A project incurs an array of costs and expenditure along the way, and it can be a challenge to keep within budgets. Of course, it’s no doubt then that businesses may look to areas where they can make cuts and keep spending to a minimum. But when looking to shave off some cost, it begs the question, how much is lost from doing so?
One area to consider a loss in, and something we touched upon earlier, would be that we as human beings love nostalgia. We are constantly making memories throughout our lives that we endeavour to hold onto. Look around you, it’s impossible not to see someone with phone in hand, snapping pictures. We capture images of every part of our lives; a great meal, a family holiday, a reunion between friends, that extra special cup of coffee that gave us life that morning. We do this to preserve memories and capture key moments, and it’s no surprise therefore that we look to do this in other areas of our lives.
Taking away voice can take away our ability to connect with the visual in this way.
Recount the times you’ve sat with friends discussing that one TV advert you watched as a child that holds a dear place in your heart. Reflect on this and you will most likely find it’s not those words across the bottom of the screen that you remember, it’s the amusing voice we heard reading the script, or the emotional music that was played that made us feel something. It’s the personal touch that gives an emotive, human side to a story. When looking at advertising as an example then, it is these moments that don’t just attract customers to a company, but also encourage a long-term relationship and a connection that grows with the client’s faith in the reputation and reliability of the business.
The Rise of Audio
The exploitation of audio on new technology form factors is actually increasing at an alarming rate. This is particularly evident in the growing popularity in recent years of voice technology within the home. Estimates from Canalys, a leading technology market analyst, show that voice and audio consumerism is on the rise, with smart speaker sales up 137% year on year in the third quarter of 2018. Devices such as the Amazon Alexa and Google Home have become a staple in the household, as the very nature of how our home life operates is evolving.
So What Does It Boil Down To?
The unavoidable sense of needing to connect with your audience is essential, and the personality you lose from extracting voice is significant. It is fundamental to consider that a few well-spoken words allow your lingering thoughts and feelings to arrive at a natural conclusion and subconscious ownership.
Society is ever-evolving, and we need to cater to a wide variety of audiences. We need to consider the stretched company exec, the overwhelmed student, the parent dashing between appointments. If we’re willing to accept that a professional voiceover doubles your audience engagement – two eyes and two ears – then it’s worth remembering that the cost of leaving your supporting subtitles to fend for themselves could literally mean losing as much as half your intended audience.
Do you need a professional voice to open the doorway to your audiences’ emotions?
Each and every day we are helping company’s all over the world to achieve this and we’d be delighted to help you!