Phoebe Ohayon

The voice of Batman versus Barbie. How the persona of a product shapes the voice choice.

How does the persona of a product shape its voice? As designers, we constantly make decisions that affect how users interact with products. This article will explore how product persona shapes voice choice and design. Let’s take a look at some factors to consider.

How persona shapes the voice choice.


Let’s start with Anthropomorphism. Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to non-human entities. It is a common phenomenon that can be seen in everyday life, like referring to your car as “she.” We are assigning it human qualities that will help us understand the product and empathize with it.

Anthropomorphism is a key component in defining a product persona and its voice. By anthropomorphizing a product, companies can make it more relatable and appealing to consumers. For example, by giving a product a human name and personality, it becomes more than just an inanimate object; it becomes a source of companionship and emotional connection.

For example, when you think about the persona of your car, you might give it characteristics like tough, independent, reliable, and efficient. Now imagine if your car had a voice. Would it be deep, strong, clear, and perhaps slightly authoritative because those qualities match its persona?

When persona and voice align

There is nothing worse than a mismatch between voice and persona. If the two don’t line up, users will have a hard time understanding or trusting the product. Imagine if Barbie talked like Batman? It would be quite confusing, and kids might even get scared.

When we think of persona, we often think of it in terms of branding. a brand persona is defined by personality characteristics perceived by its consumers. It’s part of the image that the company projects to the world. The brand persona and products persona do not have to be similar. In many cases, they are not. It’s important to realize that a brand’s persona often is different from a product’s persona.

The persona of a product or service also affects how users interact with it. If a product’s persona is fun and carefree, users have different expectations and needs compared to a product’s persona that is more serious.

Batman vs. Barbie expectations

The persona of Batman and its associated voice is somewhat set in stone. Perhaps the Batman voice in Chinese is overdubbed with a slightly higher fundamental vocal frequency. Still, in most languages and cultures, the voice contains one or more distinctive voice characteristics that we associate with batman: Hoarseness, breathy, whispery, deep, and a low male voice.

The persona and voice of Barbie are a bit more tricky. Barbie is a product where multiple personas are at play. From a user perspective, Barbie has the ability to change. Kids will assign Barbie its own personality and character influenced by their imagination, what the doll wears, how the doll acts and speaks (language, accent, slang), etc. The only things set in stone are Barbie’s physique, skin tone, hair, eyes, pink packaging, and voices used in commercials and other content.

Some would say Barbie has two personas: the idealistic fashion doll and the realistic fashion doll. And theoretically, each persona could have a different voice or a palette of voices. But I think you have to give Barbie more credit for giving its users the ability to assign the character and personality on how they imagine it.

How can you ensure persona and voice align?

Here are some factors to consider when designing the voice of your product:

  • Target audience: who is going to be using this product? How do they talk? What are their expectations and needs when interacting with your product?
  • Use case & functionality: what task is the user trying to accomplish? How can voice and tone of voice add functional value?
  • Emotion: how do you want the user to feel after interacting with the product? Voice and speaking style play a big role in shaping emotion.
  • Product persona: what is the desired perception of your product? Does this match its functionality?

By taking into account these four factors, you can start to design a voice that will match the persona of your product. This results in a cohesive user experience. If done correctly, it could make all the difference in whether or not users enjoy interacting with your product.

To summarize…

By selecting a voice that aligns with the persona you want to create, you can increase the chances of success for your product and brand. While many factors make a product successful, implementing the right voice is one piece of the puzzle that cannot be ignored. Comparing Batman and Barbie provides an interesting example of how two very different products with different personas are associated with different voices and need different approaches. The advantage of using a persona when designing a voice is that it takes all the guesswork out of the process. You know exactly which emotions you want to evoke and can choose a voice that will do just that. This will help create a connection with the customer and increase the chances of them becoming loyal followers.

There are many advantages to using a persona when choosing a voice — from increasing sales to establishing trust and loyalty with customers. If you want to ensure success, it’s essential to consider who you are speaking to and what they want to hear.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!!

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