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What does your accent suggest?
07-06-2021

What does your accent suggest?

There exists an infinite number of stereotypes based on appearance, interests, country of origin, etc. Inevitably, the same irrational assumptions can arise based on your accent. Your tone, pronunciation or  specific vocabulary give clues of a person’s origin.  Several studies have been done on the topic. 

One could think that thanks to globalization and increased mobility, the accent would progressively fade. However, a study carried out by Aston University proved that accents are, in fact, becoming more distinct since people make a conscious decision to use specific accents as a way to have a strong sense of identity. 

Following the aforementioned trend businesses are increasingly starting to leverage accents and use them across media. Actually, PH Media Group disclosed an increase of 27% on accents usage by companies. In fact, 37% of the interviewed companies were leveraging regional accents on their communications. 

Historically, the neutral Received Pronunciation was believed to be the best accent to project a professional brand image due to its “posh” impression. However, things are  changing since regional accents are becoming more appropriate to communicate a business's origin, ethos and values.

Generally speaking accents from Birmingham, Glasgow and Liverpool are on the bottom of the ranking of approvals. When it comes to attractive perceived accents Southern Irish, RP and Welsh are the top ones, while Mancunian, Scouse and Brummie are the less attractive. 

On the other hand,  RP, Edinburgh and Devon are perceived to be the most intelligent while Cockney, Brummie and Scouse the opposite. Highest trustworthiness scores are given to RP, Devon and Edinburgh accents and the lowest to Scouse, Cockney and Brummie. 

And last but not least, the friendliest perceived access are Devon, Newcastle and Edinbrugh whereas Brummie, Manchester and RP receive the lowest scores on that category. 

To see how the aforementioned perceptions can be applied in practice we will consider the service sector and financial services industry. First, as the Geordie accent is perceived as being friendly, approachable and genuine it seems the service sector. And second,  accents from the east coast of Scoland are seen as trustworthy and reassuring; that is why they might be more suitable for financial services firms. 

For instance, O2 is deploying the voice of Sean Bean to advertise their brand on television and radio. By doing so, they leverage the known popular perception of the Yorkshire accent as wise, trustworthy, honest and straightforward. 

Although a correlation between accents and intelligence does not exist, stereotypes still do. Therefore, taking all the impressions displayed in this article might be recommended. First, know which image you want to project to your customers, then, choose the accent that best suits your intentions. 


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