What can we learn from the vocal performance of presidential candidates?

Businesses can learn a valuable lesson in successful branding by listening to the America's two presidential candidates, according to an audio branding specialist.

Despite being incredibly different, the voices of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump both demonstrate why companies should include audio as a key part of the marketing mix, according to Dan Lafferty, director of music and voice for PHMG.

The audio branding specialist has analysed speeches given by the two presidential candidates, which reveal that their voices have been carefully cultivated to play a vital role in the success of their personal ‘brands’.

Clinton has deliberately assumed a more neutral tone in order to achieve universal appeal across geographical and class boundaries. On the other hand, despite his controversial status, Trump’s has successfully accentuated a less polished voice to strengthen his appeal among working-class Americans.

Lafferty says, ‘We work with businesses to help them create voice and music that communicates the appropriate brand image to both employees and customers.

‘But it is interesting to find that the current presidential candidates have done a much better job of this than most enterprises. Both have clearly worked hard to accentuate or play down different elements of their voices to help them.’

Clinton’s voice has often been dismissed as ‘irritating’ by critics but has actually been moulded to ensure it is perceived well by a broad spectrum of people, Lafferty adds.

It is deeper than is typically expected from a female voice but does not readily identify as feminine or masculine, nor does it display fluctuations in pitch, he says.

A neutral tone

‘Hillary Clinton clearly felt the need to tone down the feminine aspects of her voice because deeper, more masculine voices are traditionally perceived as having greater authority. Now, she employs a more neutral tone that avoids variances in pitch that might be perceived as emotional – a characteristic that is seen as unfavourable in a strong leader.

‘Consequently, she speaks clearly and confidently in a manner that offers calm assurance and conveys expertise. It is a voice that positions the speaker as an experienced operator who can be trusted with great responsibility.’

Donald Trump also has an ‘incredibly distinctive’ voice that has been a vital part of his own public image. Laffety says, mentioning that Trump uses his voice to reinforce a populist image by presenting himself as a tough, straight-talking New Yorker.

Lafferty adds, ‘Unlike Clinton, Trump is aiming for a very specific image through his voice and this could ultimately limit his appeal. That said, it has major a huge part of his success so far because it has allowed him to position himself as a man of the people.

‘Trump’s voice can often seem slightly gravelly or unpolished but this has allowed him to connect with working people and convey a sense of raw passion.’

The voices of both presidential candidates reflect their differing approaches and the same approach can be applied by businesses, says Lafferty.

‘It is crucial to choose voice and audio that reflect the specific brand values of an organisation – a distinctive audio brand may not please everyone but it will reflect the appropriate image and engage with the desired audience.’

Further reading on the US election

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of SmallBusiness.co.uk from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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