So you ‘sound’ like a voice over pro, which is obviously a must if you want to work as one, but do you ‘look’ the part as well? In our continuing series of articles designed to help you ‘Get An Edge’ on your voiceover career, the coaches and staff at Edge Studio provide more practical advice on the part of your VO business that’s seen, not heard, in this week’s Edge Studio Marketing Tip.
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by Edge Studio Staff
Who cares what you look like… only your voice is important. Right?
You see, your “look” IS important, because it represents you: professional voice talent. So your logos, business cards, websites, postcards, flyers, invoices, give-away-mouse-pads… should look professional too.
As stated in last week’s article (part 1 of this article), casting agents often choose which demos to listen to (which voice talent to hire) by the look of your marketing materials. So just like you take time formatting your resume and combing your hair before going to the recording studio, take time to ensure a professional “look”.
IMPORTANT - we need to define “professional look”. This is ANY “look” that appropriately represents you and your vocal delivery.
A “professional look” is important for two reasons:
(1) A professional look graphically HELPS CASTING AGENTS know what you sound like. This is extremely important when they’re searching for the right voice… as they scan their CDs, for example, they may see a demo that looks like it may contain the kind of voice they’re searching for.
(2) A professional look makes you appear professional. Obviously, casting agents will be MUCH LESS LIKELY to hire you if you look unprofessional.
So today, we’ll take a look at the graphics that represent you.
SEEN IT A FEW TOO MANY TIMES
LOGO: Every time Microsoft releases new clip-art, we get umpteen business cards with the same new microphone. Do this, and your branding looks like the next guy’s. “Hmmmm” is right.
(Imagine if Burger King, McDonalds, and Wendys all had the same logo. Weird.)
Suggestion: Don’t take the easy way out. Your logo represents you – personalize it. More on this below.
WAS THIS LAID-OUT BY A CHILD?
FORMATTING: Would you let a child design the lay-out your resume? Unless they’re some sort of prodigy, they shouldn’t lay-out your marketing materials either.
Formatting is the placement of information. That is, where your name goes, where your contact information goes, and so on.
Formatting is also the lay-out of information. That is, are all the lines aligned correctly? Are the font sizes consistent? Do the bullets match? And so on.
Sloppy formatting usually translates into LESS WORK for you. Professionally and appropriately formatted marketing materials usually translates into MORE WORK.
Here’s proof: After we review a voice talent’s marketing materials for formatting, they usually get a LOT more work right after implementing our suggestions. What secret formula do we use? Experience. That is, we look at it from the vantage point of a casting professional and know what they would need to see to hire that person.
Suggestion: Formatting matters! Spend time on this. Show it to sharp-eyed friends – request honest feedback.
WELL THAT’S A FINE “HOW DO YOU DO”
COLORS & SHAPES: Some marketing materials use bright, vivid colors which grab our attention! Some use cool color palettes that draw us in. Some use circles everywhere which are very catchy. There are unlimited color & shape schemes – and many of them work… BUT SOME DON’T.
We see our fair share of marketing materials where we can’t even read the words because the bright orange font color sits on top of a bright red background. Ouch! We see logos which make the person look like a plumber. We see postcards which we think are junk mail because the image looks like a coupon-mailer.
Suggestion: Consider the “message” that your color & shape scheme carry. If they carry the wrong message and/or if they hide your message, try a new color & shape scheme. Show your design to strangers and ask them if they can figure out what you do within 5 seconds.
WHERE HAS YOUR DEMO GONE? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?
DEMO LINK: It happens much too often: A voice talent sends me a link to hear their demo on their website, but I can’t find their demo on their website.
Folks, the number one reason why casting agents visit your site is to hear your demo.
Suggestion: Put a link to your demo in as obvious a place as possible to ensure that website visitors see it. Better suggestion: put the link on every page of your website.
BUSINESS CARDS: There’s nothing like home-printed business cards on cheap paper, pulled apart, with perforations showing. Boy they look professional.
Come on folks… you KNOW that they don’t look professional… so why use them?
Suggestion: For a few bucks more, buy better paper, better ink, and a better printer. Or better yet, pay a printing house to print them. NOTE: there are some printing shops which print free business cards (find them through Google) – but some print on lesser quality paper and/or print smaller-than standard size business cards which look less substantial.
IS THAT WHAT YOU SOUND LIKE?
PHOTOS: How adorable, that nice kitten sleeping on the puppy. With a photo of that on your CD, I assume your voice is warm-toned and joyful. SO WHEN I NEED A MESSAGE-DRIVEN CORPORATE VOICE, I’ll know not to listen to your demo.
No? They’re just your pets? You put them on your CD because they bring you good luck?
Get the point?
SUGGESTION: If you choose to have a photo on your demo, MAKE SURE IT MATCHES YOUR VOICE AND DELIVERY. Casting agents do EXACTLY WHAT YOU DO… consciously or unconsciously, they choose vendors based on their image. There are a few exceptions, such as if you provide on-camera work as well.
(Uncomfortably, I’ll admit this in public to make the point.): When interning at a voice over studio after college, my first big casting job was a national Revlon TV commercial. The client wanted a sexy female voice. Determined to do a great job, I reviewed a LOT of demos. The woman I chose sounded VERY sexy. But when she arrived at the studio… not so sexy. It OCCURRED to me that had she put her photo on her demo, I would NOT have even reviewed her demo. WRONG OR RIGHT, people stereotype.
Likewise, a friend of mine looks Chinese but is (and sounds) American. I’ve told him NOT to use a headshot on his marketing materials because when searching for an American voice talent, people will see a Chinese guy and assume his mother tongue is Chinese.
THE FINE PRINT
FONT: You want to emphasize certain words in your marketing materials. You make them large. But huge fonts can sometimes work against you (as they tend to look less professional).
Or to the contrary, sometimes you can’t fit everything in, so you shrink the font. So much so that no one can read your literature.
Suggestion: Find marketing materials that you like, and compare your font size to theirs.
AND MOST IMPORTANTLY, CARRY ON . . . .
CONSISTENCY: Red, white, and blue may match. But when each color is separated on a different marketing material, YOU LOSE WORK.
Suggestion: If your “look” is red talking bubbles, then use red talking bubbles on every piece of marketing material… INCLUDING the side (spine) of your CD cases.
Here is why: By using the same marketing message (red bubbles), clients are continually REMINDED OF YOU. If you use different marketing messages, (even green bubbles or red squares), clients will NOT be reminded of you. And studies PROVE that clients need to see you (your name and/or your “look”) four or more times before hiring you. So being consistent can really pay off!