Halo: how to best expand your brand like the franchise!

Ever wonder what you’d get if you crossed Clint Eastwood with Robocop? Odds are a gunslinging supersoldier that looks like Master Chief Petty Officer John-117. The Halo brand mascot was made real by Steve Downes, the master chief voice actor. Now you’re probably wondering, a video game franchise? A monosyllable soldier in shining armor? How can something that sounds like a comic book character help my brand?

The answer is that Halo is one of the highest-grossing media franchises. But, the common thread across its twenty-year lifespan is brand longevity. And although Halo started in the gaming industry, it evolved to become less dependent on its core gaming revenue. So here’s the best guidance, tips, and practices from the expanding Halo franchise to benefit brands of all shapes and sizes.

What is Halo

Halo is a franchise built on military science fiction. It was first launched as a first-person shooter game in 2001, exclusively for Microsoft’s Xbox video game console. Halo’s storytelling universe is rooted in a unique alien culture. Spartans (supersoldiers wearing enhanced armor) fighting to contain the Covenant (an alien alliance). But the franchise rotates around two pivotal figures: Master Chief and his AI sidekick Cortana.

The story hones in on this speak-when-necessary hero with a brilliant foil. A witty, sometimes sarcastic woman inside his head. They’re partly why the latest game version Halo Infinite gained 20 million players since its launch. So who are the Halo voice actors that epitomize these heroic characters? 

Who are the Halo voice actors

Most Halo voice actors have been with the brand since its launch. And their voices have become synonymous with their characters in various brand adaptations. Here are the voice actors of the 3 lead characters.

Who is the Master Chief voice actor

Halo Master chief voice actor
Image: Paramount

The Master Chief voice actor is Steve Downes, and it’s his vocal talent that brought the towering soldier front and center for the franchise from just a character sketch. The primary focus was to portray the Chief as a Clint Eastwood–type soldier, a man of few words and intense action. 

And though the Master Chief never removes his armor in the games, he’s not exactly faceless. He wears a distinctive gold visor and has a wry sense of humor. So the talented master chief voice actor had to balance a deadpan tone with occasional raw emotion to capture the heart of a seasoned soldier. Was he successful? Well, the Master Chief character is listed as number one in the top-ten best halo characters.

Who is the Cortana Halo voice actor

Cortana Halo voice actor
Image: Paramount

The Cortana Halo voice actor is Jen Taylor. Taylor has voiced Cortana in various game adaptations, with Showtime Networks hiring her to continue as the Cortana Halo voice actor for the live-action TV show. Owing to the character’s popularity, Taylor also voiced Microsoft’s Windows PC/Phone personal assistant, named after the popular Halo character.

Who is the Dr. Halsey voice actor

The Dr. Halsey voice actor is both Jen Taylor and Shelly Calene-Black. As a civilian scientist, Dr. Halsey works with the military to run the SPARTAN-II Project. Cortana emanated from Halsey’s cloned brain. Interestingly, Jen Taylor, who also voices Cortana, does the motion capture and vocal performance for Dr. Halsey in Halo: Reach, Halo 4, and Halo 5: Guardians. However, Shelly Calene-Black voices Dr. Halsey in Halo Legends.

How the Halo TV series cast changed

Here’s where things took a new, fresh turn! The live-action series introduced new original characters and broke tradition by revealing the Master Chiefs’ face for the first time ever. Here are 3 primary ways the Halo TV series cast changed:

  1. Since the Master Chief revealed his face, Pablo Schreiber replaced the 72-year-old Master Chief voice actor because he fit the physical bill of a spartan supersoldier. 
  2. Cortana, as an AI, required no physical interaction with other characters, so Jen Taylor remained the Cortana Halo voice actor in the TV series. 
  3. The brand created a new TV series main character. Kwan Ha, played by newcomer Yerin Ha. Her character showcases a more protective, caring side of the Master Chief because he takes Kwan under his wing, although she’s a survivor of a rebel-filled planet.

Now, the Halo franchise may have started with just a killer video game, but over the years, it has expanded its reach to include games, merchandise, films, and even a live-action TV series. In fact, a few years ago, Halo had a $5 billion estimated value.

The successful evolution of the Halo brand 


The Halo brand evolved from a video game concept to a household name with an international following. In fact, the Halo TV series was Paramount+’s most-watched series premiere worldwide within 24 hours of its release. With more than 10 million people playing Halo MCC on PC. How did they achieve these numbers? The brand first analyzed its changing audiences and then tried to cater to that market. By asking critical questions like:

  • Can we create character merchandise like clothes or action figures? 
  • Are users playing the game with PlayStation or Xbox, and would they prefer a mobile app? 
  • Is there a market for toys like Legos? 
  • Could we write comic books and novels?

And the answer to all of the above is yes. Because today, Halo sells everything from video games to Master Chief crew socks and salt and pepper shakers.

How your brand can also expand its success like Halo

As a brand, Halo kept true to its core message of an alien world with integral characters. But like a good wine, the story had to breathe independently. Now 4 main points stand out when it comes to brand expansion.

  1. Sell diverse products – Halo explored different character arcs with each release. For example, Halo 2 launched a new main character – the Arbiter, But Halo 5 turned Cortana into a villain. These characters generated their own following, which led to new product offerings like Cortana and Arbiter T-Shirts. So consider what you could create or revamp to diversify your product range.
  2. Tell a cohesive story – Regardless of whether you watch the show, read the comic books or play one of the games, the brand is cohesive. And consistency in storytelling helps build a compelling brand identity.
  3. Build a loyal following – Halo has a fan base who have followed the brand for twenty years. So if your community is united in supporting your brand, you’ll have loyal supporters for decades. 
  4. Choose and stick with exceptional voice actors – Halo’s ability to expand from a video game franchise to a TV show was made possible by a set of truly remarkable Halo voice actors. And in the world of digital marketing, quality voice actors can give your brand a truly awesome voice.

Final thoughts on Halo

Halo, as a brand, succeeded because it changed with the times. Evolving according to its users and their needs and wants. It also creatively combined both the digital and physical worlds we live in. But through all of that, their star actors and voice actors played a pivotal part in making these virtual characters believable. 

So, as you continue to make your brand more evergreen and appealing, think about your customer’s or users’ needs and wants and how that’s continuously changing. Then align your brand goals and plans to cater to those users. And above all, don’t forget the power of voice! Whether it’s commercials, explainers, promos, or radio ads about your brand, hiring the next Cortana or Master Chief voice actor might be just what you want or need to evolve like the Halo brand. And you can be sure they’re on Voice123 – why not head over now and check out some of the pros’ video game samples?


Who voices Master Chief?

Steve Downes voices Master Chief and has been the Master Chief voice actor for 22 years.

Who voices Cortana?

Jen Taylor voices Cortana in most of Cortana’s Halo appearances.

When did Halo come out?

Halo first came out on 15th November 2001. Around twenty-two years ago.

How many Halo games are there?

According to Xbox, there are 6 different Halo games.

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