Corporate Culture 101
If you’ve ever stepped into an office building and it felt like you were walking onto a distant planet, you’re not alone. The way people interact with each other inside the walls of their company can be unique, strange, and confusing. It’s easy to feel like in interloper and want to run back outside where the world makes sense. When you book corporate voice-over work it’s your job to be able to interpret and relay the idiosyncrasies of what is known as… (Dun, Dun, Duuunnnn) “Corporate Culture”. And in most cases, your role (the "Who Are You?") will be reading as an "employee" of the company. If you can understand and get inside the head of the corporate beast, you will improve your interpretation of the script and consequently have an easier time delivering a VO read that the client will love.
Navigating the labyrinth
In a nutshell, the purpose of all corporations is universally the same – to make money. It’s really a simple truth that can be interpreted as getting from point “A” (no money), to point “B” (money). But navigating from point A to point B isn’t a straight line. There are many twists, turns, and intersections that need to be traversed in order to close the distance. The leaders within the company create paradigms that guide each decision that needs to be made during the journey. These paradigms can look like “Mission Statements” or “Values” or “Principals”, and they affect the behavior of how each person within the company operates. This creates a culture that drives and guides the business, aka – a Corporate Culture.
Digging for gold
Uncovering a company’s culture can take some digging. There are multiple obvious clues such as a Mission Statement, or Value Statements. And if you’re lucky these will be found in company literature, or on their website. Sometimes the leaders of the organization will create short videos that directly address what the business stands for. However, other times it’s not as obvious. Sometimes to discover and understand the culture of a company you have to read between the lines of the brand. Watch other voiceover material that they have created. Get a feel for their values by soaking up the atmosphere of how they conduct business, as well as how they regard and value their employees. Walk a mile in their shoes so to speak. You have to do your due diligence and research the business and it’s leaders to understand the attitudes that incorporate what is most important to that company. Great corporate culture can include such things as company pride, fairness, respect, and teamwork.
Why you should care
All this is well and good but really, why should we care? Understanding what is important to a company and its culture will inform your choices when reading their voice over script. But it’s more than that. If you understand what drives a company and how they make decisions, then you’ll be able to interact and exchange ideas more effectively and efficiently. You’ll become an “insider”. One that seamlessly integrates as a true colleague and part of the team. And once you have a foot in the door like that, it’s also easier to get repeat work. If a client can rely on you to consistently deliver work that lines up with their values and culture then you’re more likely to see repeat voice acting business from that client.
Perception is reality
Keeping a client happy and getting repeat business is the name of the game. To do so requires you to understand that their perception is your reality. Whatever they think of how you fit into their culture will determine, for better or worse, how much work you will get from them in the future. Think of it from their perspective, to them you’re the new employee who needs to go above and beyond to prove that you fit in with the rest of the team. Regardless of what you think is the truth, the way the client views you and the quality of what you deliver is the final vote.
So dive deep into the pool of understanding that is the corporate culture of each client. It may take more work up front, but it will pay off in the long run. Every minute you spend researching who your client is and how they operate will show up in so many positive ways in your read. Imagine being in a foreign country, if you took the time to learn the language you’re more likely to be welcomed as part of the team. You’ll understand their perspective, speak their language, and make voice acting choices based on their values.
Much love and Keep on rockin' your biz.
About the Author: Anne Ganguzza is a full-time voice talent and award-winning director and producer who works with students to develop their voice over and business skills - including VO demo training and production. She specializes in Conversational Commercial and Narration styles, including Corporate, E-Learning, Technology, Healthcare - Medical, Telephony, and On-Hold. Located in Orange County, CA, Anne offers private coaching and mentoring services to students in person and via Skype, ipDTL or Zoom.