Talking to a car salesman who doesn’t know how to say Laredo is jarring. It gives you the sense that they do not know what they are doing. And when someone is involved with taking your money for something…like a car…it puts you in financial danger. As in, they could be selling you a lemon, because clearly they don’t know anything about it, not even how to pronounce the name.
It’s the same with voice overs.
If you are in the voice over industry and you don’t know how to pronounce Mercedes, Laredo, Impala, Mitsubishi or Hyundai, you need to do your homework.
For me, I don’t guess on pronunciations. I hear them once and store them away in my mind for future use. And if i don’t know, I look it up. Because I know how bad it looks to be in the advertising business and not know how to pronounce a brand name. It looks really bad. And it shakes peoples confidence in you.
I am not saying you can’t make a mistake, I am saying, be knowledgeable about the brands you may have to say in the future.
Now I realize there are territory issues as well. Americans say Sportage as “SPORR-tigg” (soft ‘g’ as in porridge) and Canadians say “sporr-TAWGG” (like garage). But even that piece of knowledge should be known by a voice over artist in either country.
But even within ones own country, the knowledge of at least the large brands should be a prerequisite. Everyone is voicing things on every corner of the continent these days, so it shows you’ve been around the block, took note and have more knowledge because of it.
A working voice talent should know that in Ontario, Fiat is pronounced FEE-yit. But say in Colorado, it’s pronounced FEE-yawt. You know that Porsche is pronounced ‘porsh’ in most small markets in the United States, but ‘por-SHAH’ in large markets. And Volkswagen is pronounced as “FOAKS-va-gun” in Germany instead of “VOAKS-wagon” in America…and anyone of a particular age should know that Renault is pronounced as ruh-NOH and not ‘ruh-NALT’.
Knowing your brands shows you care about what you do, it puts others at ease when their futures are in your hands, whether you are selling the car to them, or selling it on the radio FOR them.
Although I have focused on car brands, this advice obviously extends to all brand names too of course…because knowing that ‘Nike’ does not rhyme with ‘Mike’ and “Versace’ is not vur-SAW-kee will keep you working long after the others have driven home in their chev-roh-LETT.