Both are iconic brands that exude love and romance. Can you sum up your voice-over brand in a few short words?
Since 1993, I’ve traveled to over a dozen cities from London to Las Vegas just to see Barry Manilow in concert. I’ve seen him perform 51 times, including his newest show at the spectacular Paris Las Vegas during my recent trip to Las Vegas. The Paris Las Vegas resort is the perfect venue for Barry, and his new show includes images of Impressionists works found in Paris, France. The latest rendition of Barry’s show is truly an ideal marriage between 2 romantic brands.
Barry has been creating albums and performing in live concerts for over 35 years. After that last concert, I thought about 3 Cs related to Barry’s branding that may help you achieve similar longevity with your voiceover career.
People are always shocked when I say how many times I’ve gone to a Manilow concert. They ask me why I would go see the same performer so many times. They incredulously inquire, “Isn’t it the same show every time?”
Since I want to answer that question here by talking about his branding, I think it’s easier to understand branding when looking at products instead of people. If I said I had bought Tide detergent hundreds of times in my life, no one would find the revelation shocking. At best, they might be curious about the reason for my allegiance to that particular brand of detergent.
Tide detergent is a carefully formulated product that will remove stains from clothes. It is a brand to distinguish it from other, similar-looking products that also remove stains from clothes.
Many people don’t stop to think of an entertainer as a powerful form of brand promotion. Whether we’re talking about a legendary performer with decades of experience like Barry Manilow or the newest voice talent plugging in a microphone today, a voice-over talent is a unique brand just as Barry Manilow is.
What kind of song is Barry known for? Love songs. True, he sings in a wide variety of musical genres — including jazz, pop, standards, rock, and even Latin (and I’m not just talking about Copacabana) — but he uses the same signature sound and stays true to his core product line of love songs in most cases.
As a voice talent, I also have worked in multiple genres — commercials, audiobooks, e-learning modules, games, and phone systems. Although I may employ a different attitude or change my vocal attributes to create a character voice, the vast majority of my work employs my signature sound. I usually stay true to my core product line of factual presentation.
Just as clothes detergents look the same, and a singer’s catalog tends to sound the same, you will probably note some similarity among the types of scripts on which you excel. If you stop and determine where that similarity lies, you will have found your core product. When you know your core product, it’s easier to target a niche of people who want that product.
Most people make all purchasing decisions out of habit or, ideally, affinity to a particular brand. We repeat our decisions when we are satisfied with the product and it provides predictable, consistent results. Fans of entertainers and sports teams repeatedly pay big bucks to see their idols perform. What’s more, they are only too happy to buy merchandise with their idol’s name and logo, etc.
When I buy Tide, I know that my clothes will be clean. When I buy a ticket to a Manilow concert, I know I will hear favorite songs and see a high-energy show for 2 hours. When a client books me for a voice-over job, they know they will receive a well-narrated, pristine recording of their script before their deadline. Since I market my brand as “A Vacation For Your Ears”, clients rightfully expect me to be bright, sunny, stress-free, and fun!
Going back to my detergent analogy, if Tide had never made a change in the years that I had been buying it, I probably would have switched to another detergent. As it is, Tide has removed chemicals that irritated my skin, changed from powder to liquid, and created new packaging which encourages me to get refills. The basic product stayed the same, but improvements have been made based on customer feedback.
In the years that I’ve followed Barry, he also has improved. Sure, you know you’re going to hear certain songs and some of the same jokes from concert to concert. Mandy, Copacabana, and I Write The Songs are part of his core product line. The production and staging has changed with different tours and venues. Also, Barry has continued to produce new albums, so the music changes over time as well. He has said that he gets bored with the same show, and he knows his fans would, too. Therefore, he even changes elements of the show each night.
My clients have also benefitted from my constant improvement. I have upgraded studio components and continue to take classes to maintain and improve my performance.
When you define and stick with your core product, offer consistent results, and embrace constant improvement, you will find much success in your voice-over career over the years.
Aside from these thoughts about branding, I’ve learned some extremely important life’s lessons from Barry which may help you live the life of your dreams, specifically:
- Don’t take your critics’ words to heart; what do they know, anyway?
- Forget about pleasing everybody; concentrate on playing to the people who like what you do.
- Do what you love (in my case, voice-over) not for the money but because you can’t NOT do it. Barry has said: “You shouldn’t do it for the applause, the money or the ego satisfaction because it doesn’t work. You’ve got to do it because you’ve got to do it.”
- Your job is just what you do, but it doesn’t change who you are.
- You can give in, you can give out, but you don’t give up.
- The better produced demo you make, the better chance you have.
One of my dearest dreams is to meet Barry and have a private, meaningful conversation with him. I want to tell him how much I have learned from him and enjoyed his music. According to this article, he’s planning to create an audio autobiography. I would certainly love to work with him in any capacity on that project, if only to be the narrator who introduces the book for him. I’m also open to singing or playing my harp with him during one of his shows!
At the end of his concerts, Barry often urges his audiences:
DO WHAT YOU LOVE!
He closed his autobiography with this passage, and I want to share it with you.
and nobody will be as sorry as you if you don’t get it.