The 5 Stages Of Personal Branding For Performers

Everybody has a personal brand. Most people just fall into theirs by accident.

As a performer your personal brand is the reason you do or do not get called in for auditions or book the job. So what are the 5 stages of personal branding for performers.

  1. Who You Are
  2. What You Look Like
  3. What You Do
  4. What You Communicate
  5. What You Contribute

According to labor statistics the average person only changes jobs four times over their whole career. There are some actors who audition 4 times a week! And that’s not taking into account all the times you get submitted for a job but don’t get called in at all.

You might think that personal branding is just about logos and stationary and portfolio shots, and websites but those things are only an expression of your personal brand, it goes much deeper than that.

A strong personal brand tells a compelling story of who you are through each of the tiny signals you put out in the world.

Personal branding is figuring out what makes you you, then expressing. enhancing and accentuating that through everything you say, do and create making you memorable and unmistakably you.

“How you do anything, is how you do everything.”

So let’s look at each of the five stages that make up a strong personal brand for you as an actor.

Who You Are

Who you are is the foundation of your personal branding.

In order for your branding to be and feel authentically you it needs to have strong roots in who you really are as a person. But in order for it to be useful for you as an actor it also needs to be connected to the characters you play and the work that you do.

Your branding has to align with your casting so your personal brand enhances attributes that naturally inform the roles you play.

The ideal personal branding won’t just get you any old auditions but more auditions for the right roles that are perfect for you and land you more of those jobs as a result.

Who you are is made up of your personality & energy, beliefs, values and your personal story.

What You Look Like

What you look like, your actual appearance, plays a large part in your personal brand.

In the acting industry we all already instinctively market what we look like; we call it our
“Castability”

Your castability is a key part of who you are, along with personality and energy, beliefs and values and personal story but it’s more important as an actor than for anyone else in any other career because your appearance, what you look like, is the primary reason you get work.

If you look like the perfect actor for a role but your energy and personality doesn’t match you won’t get the job. Similarly if you have the perfect energy for a character but you look nothing like what they might be then you won’t get the job either.

What you look like, or your Castability, is broken down into four key areas: Gender Expression, Ethnic & Cultural Origin, Age Range & Perceived Occupations or what you look like you do for a living.

You need to figure out what elements of who you are, your personality, energy, beliefs, values and story, support and enhance elements of your casting type.

What You Do

What you do and the unique way in which you do it is a key part of your personal brand as an actor. The skills and talents you possess need to be put to work on the right projects that are an extension of who you are as a person and the castability you represent.

What you do is broken down into five main areas.

Skills – are your particular talents and abilities, these are the core area of the work you do and the things you star on your spotlight.

Strengths – are the situations that allow you to perform your skills to the best of your ability, that help you do your best work. Sure I am skilled in Irish plays, but I’m particularly strong in stories set in the modern day, with characters who leave home.

Passions – are the things that you absolutely love doing, that you would do if they were free, that let you fully work in flow.

Purpose – Is what wider goal do you want to achieve through your work, why do you work at all. What greater impact does your work have to have.

Positioning – is how you differentiate the work you do from the work that actors who are similar to you do. It allows you to identify where you are different and where you have opportunities to capitalise on, grow into or avoid.

If your casting type and your personality and energy don’t align with the actual skills you possess and work that you do and what you care about you have a branding mismatch.

Like a vegan working in a slaughterhouse, or an environmental activist with a private jet. Or Hugh Grant in an action thriller.

What You Communicate

What you communicate and how you do that is the core vehicle of your personal brand; how you express what you do and who you are through the marketing tools you create and use.

What you communicate is how you represent who you are, what you look like and what you do, subtly through all your brand assets so people instinctively know, they feel it from you.

When your headshot comes across their desk, or your social media pops up in their feed you have decided intentionally what you want them to feel and know about you and that’s the story you are telling.

This is where the more traditional elements you know about branding come into play like colours, fonts, images etc.

For example, in all your marketing materials you want to give a suggestion of your age range, or most likely occupation. If your personal story is that you came from a small village in Ireland you want to highlight that in your ethnic or cultural origin so you get a sense of that in your headshots and the way you speak.

Think of it this way:

If your headshot comes across my desk and it’s a beautiful fine art style portrait, full of bright pale colours and soft focus, showing poise and a sense of regal energy… but in reality you are actually a scally from east London who speaks in broad cockney with an intimidating energy, then you are miscommunicating or misrepresenting your brand.  

What you communicate comes through in visual branding; colours, logo, fonts, imagery, brand voice; what you say and write, how your work speaks for your brand and your reputation & proof.

What You Contribute

What and who you give your time and energy to in the world is a very important area of your personal brand.

The value you add to the lives of the people and things in the world that help define the kind of person and thus the kind of actor you are.

You can have the sexiest branding going but if you give your time to shallow projects and people that just line your pockets then that doesn’t say great things about you does it.

You want to become known as the kind of actor who is generous with their time, attention, skill and expertise.

You want to become known as the actor who the casting directors always want to get in the room because you always give 110% and make them look good.

You want to become known as the kind of actor that a director shortlists when they have a passion project that they don’t have time to do a protracted casting so they just call you up and ask you to be in it.

You contribute to the industry and the world through your value network, your fans, followers & subscribers, your clients, and your causes.

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February, 2023

Jean Valjean