Voice Over Man vs Woman Actor

When I was first starting out as a voice over talent, when mammoths roamed the earth and cassette tapes were the norm, my dad urged me to go after car dealerships as clients.

My dad said he never met a married man brave enough to buy a car his wife didn’t like, so car dealers should always use a female to voice their commercials. While his logic was dead on, it was years before I heard a woman narrate a car commercial, and it’s still a fairly rare thing.

Is a male or female voice the best choice to represent your brand?

Do you pick the strong bass notes of a male voice to convey your message or the lighter tones of a female VO talent to share the benefits of your product? Both can be very effective, so simply defaulting to one or the other can limit your audience not grow it.

Do men always have to narrate beer commercials? Don’t women drink beer too? Should women be the expected voice for toilet paper? Everyone shops for TP, not just women.

So how do you pick whether a male or female voice would work best for your video project or radio ad?

 

Yes, Be A Little Sexist: Who is Your Customer?

Voice Over or No Voice Over, Smiling Woman

ED medication. Men.
Maxi Pads. Women.

These are two cases where the market is clearly delineated, but it’s usually not so straightforward. As social norms continue to blur, the perfect voice to represent your company may be the opposite of what you would normally select.

What if a woman voiced a commercial for tools? Wouldn’t that be an acknowledgement of the shifting roles we see today? I have a toolbox chock full of hammers and screwdrivers. In fact, I just used my ratchet set. Real women own tools, so talking directly to this demographic using a female voice makes sense.

How about a man touting the benefits of cleaning products… to men, and not just some husky voiced manly-man purring to the ladies? Men know how to do laundry and dishes. They may not like it, but they do it.

Why not aim advertising straight at them with a male narrator?

With millions of products and services purchased by every gender and age group, defaulting to one type or range of voice for your commercials or videos could be shrinking your market instead of expanding it. Go wild and hire the opposite gender to narrate your next project.

 

What is the Real Goal of the Project?

The single force behind any of my marketing strategies has always been a single question, “what do I want my marketing effort to do for me?” As a voice talent, knowing what my client’s goals are for a project helps me provide the tone and energy level they are looking for.

Voice Over Man vs Woman Actor

If you are going for a hard sell, “Buy It Now” kind of spot, a male voice is a good call. Deeper tones work really well for this type of high-energy project. Male voices have a lot of natural authority attached them. Plus, no one does the Voice of God better than a baritone.

Maybe your goal is more of a gentle nudge to push potential clients toward your product. A woman’s voice is ideal, especially with a softer smiling delivery. This type of narration creates that warm fuzzy feeling like fresh baked cookies and kissing a boo boo. And who doesn’t respond to that?

Thanks, Mom.

If brand awareness and name recognition what you’re looking for the best advice I have is choose a voice you love – male or female. You want to pick the voice you can easily listen to for years to come, because brand is about consistency over the long haul. Jumping between voices and genders won’t help you cement your name into a client’s mind. Think of it as a jingle or soundtrack for your product.

If you are having a hard time deciding which gender would work best, have both male and female VO talents audition with multiple scripts (old or new) and see if that voice personifies your brand. Choose wisely because you want to stick with that sound for as long as possible.

The more specific your goal, the easier it is to choose the right voice.

 

Would the Opposite Choice of Talent Work Better?

As a female voice talent, I can tell you that many producers default to a male voice.

All I can say to that is… stop it.

With the exception of a few products, professional voice talents of either gender can adeptly represent your product or service and give you the desired outcomes. So why default to one gender over another when you have a world of choices and a bounty of talent just waiting to read your script.

Audition both. Listen to both. Then decide.

As demographics and buying power change, so do the voices that speak to the customer.

As you choose a voice to represent your company, be mindful of the power and success that the unexpected choice can bring! Let me know what you think below in the comments!

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Great post, JoJo! And it makes a lot of sense, too. This part especially:

    “…professional voice talents of either gender can adeptly represent your product or service and give you the desired outcomes. So why default to one gender over another when you have a world of choices and a bounty of talent just waiting to read your script.

    Audition both. Listen to both. Then decide.”

  2. Hello! Someone in my Facebook group shared this page with us so I came to look it over. I’m definitely enjoying the information. I’m book-marking and will be tweeting this to my followers!

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  3. I think it depends on the project and overall tone
    you are going for. We do alot of phone voiceovers
    and construction companies/auto mechanics/etc usually prefer a male voice. While, almost all other businesses prefer
    a female voice for this type of job.

  4. Hi Garrett!
    Thanks for the comment!

    It’s great that you know your customers, so you can help them pick the perfect voice for their project!!

  5. This is a very informative post. The hardest decision is the narrator. I must tell everyone that this is true. You must respect the brand and the long run.
    You cannot please everyone. Please the brand, after you clear it. Get other people’s take, but feel good about it first.
    And then, best of luck. There is a risk with everything…welcome to the real world.

  6. This is adorable post. As you informed us about your well writing. I am needy hear Because i am very interesting in voice over fields from childhood. My father used to work in voice over field for picture animation when he was alive. he is famous actor in there. And i am also want to perfect voice over actor. After study i want to join voice over center for caching to learn about it more. If you have better suggestion to improve my voice. please reply me by your post.

    • Hi Andrew, what a wonderful story – thank you for sharing. I suggest contacting JoJo directly at her website too. I should add, she’s an author, and has ties to the children-book field too. Thank you for sharing Andrew.

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