Whether you are one of the 1.27 billion people worldwide who speak English, or you are just learning the language, there will be many accents you find easy to understand. However, there are also likely to be some regional English accents that you struggle to understand. This can happen to all English speakers, native or not, due to the fact that some accents are very strong, and there are literally hundreds of different English accents across the globe.
But the wide variety of English accents isn’t just an interesting topic – it also impacts businesses and, therefore, the economy. Businesses need to be able to create universally understood and meaningful training content for their employees. They need to produce marketing content that resonates with their intended audience of potential customers. An understanding of how different English accents are perceived by different people matters in business, but how do you know which accent to choose? Should it be the same as that spoken by the target audience or should it be neutral. And, if neutral, which variant of neutral is preferred for global content. Should the accent be American, Irish, British, Australian, South African or something else for the best impact? Let’s take a closer look:
The fact is that being understood is the most important factor in any marketing, advertising or training communications. Some accents, like broad Irish or Scottish are harder for many people to understand, whereas standard “Received Pronunciation” (RP) or the Queen’s English, can be easier to understand for a wider audience. How easily you understand an accent though can depend on where you are from.
Many scientific studies have pointed to the fact that we all unconsciously judge a person based on their accent. We categorise people as soon as they say a few words, and one study even showed babies grow to prefer the accent they heard whilst they were in the womb.
This accent bias has to be considered when you look at your target market and where you are releasing your content. Customers, unconsciously or not, will make assumptions about your brand and product based on the accent of the voice over artists and actors you use.
Certain accents also come with certain connotations. Received Pronunciation, for example, suggests an air of privilege which may alienate some viewers. A really good example of connotations and accents is with the famous Boddingtons advert released in the 90’s featuring Melanie Sykes. It was beautiful and mysterious to start with, then when Melanie spoke, she had a strong Mancunian accent, which underlined the warm, down to earth image that Boddingtons wanted to portray. It is so important to consider the connotations that come with the accent you use to ensure it matches your campaign.
If in doubt, consult the professionals
These are just some of the reasons that accents are important, especially when it comes to marketing and advertising. If you are in doubt about which accent to use in your training or marketing content then get in touch with our friendly team who can send you a range of demos to choose from. Our voiceover service provides professional insight and planning to ensure that you use the right English accent for your next project, so it is as effective and relevant as possible.