What Is Personal Branding For Performers

How to make yourself memorable and desirable for the right reasons. What is branding? How is Personal Branding different? Why do I need a personal brand as a performer, will it get me more work? All great questions, and in this article I am going to answer each one for you in turn.

  1. What Is Branding
  2. How Is Personal Branding Different
  3. Is Personal Branding The Same Thing As USP?
  4. Defining Personal Branding For Actors

What Is Branding

Branding is simply the process of demonstrating how one product is different from another similar product.

Branding a product allows you to align what you want people to think about it, with what people actually think about it.

This is done by intentionally representing the features and attributes of the product in a way that suggests exactly what you want people to think and believe about it.

They see and hear the brand and immediately know who the product is for, what it does and what it stands for.

How Is Personal Branding Different

So how is personal branding different?

Well a “Personal” brand is the reputation or opinion held about you by the external world. It is the combination of all of the personal attributes, values, strengths and passions that you draw from in your work and life that differentiate you from every actor who is similar to you.

Personal “branding” is how you communicate what you represent and stand for as a performer and a human being.

It’s not about being the “best” actor or the sexiest, or the funniest, it’s about identifying what makes you different, unique and the most “you” and then communicating that at a level that might scare you a bit, daring to turn some people off so you can really turn the right people on!

Is Personal Branding The Same Thing As USP?

USP is a marketing buzzword that has become very common for people to use when they want to sound like they know what they are talking about.

Drama Schools love to talk about USP. I have yet to come across a drama school teaching it properly.

I hate USP, but let’s briefly explore what it is and why Personal Branding is different.

A USP or “Unique Selling Point” is a single attribute of a product that makes that product, and only that product, the “best” or “most appropriate” for something the customer needs.

A USP is something that a product or company has, that no other similar product has.

Example: Apple is the most innovative and stylish technology developer. Apple’s ecosystem of products and apps is something no other technology company has.  

But as soon as you stray away from the world of physical and digital products it becomes more and more difficult to define a unique selling point. You can be the “cheapest” plumber in the area, that is something that is unique – there can only be one absolute cheapest in any given area. But you can’t really be the “most friendly” plumber or the most “innovative” plumber – how would you know?  

It’s even more difficult for a creative artist because art is subjective. It’s easy to identify whether a plumber has done a good job, and a bad plumber won’t stay working for very long.

But who decides what “good” acting is, or who the most “emotive” actor is. I can’t just declare that I am the “best Irish actor who sings” but that’s what a USP calls for.

You can’t have a Unique Selling Point in a subjective industry; by definition a USP cannot be subjective, it is unique, so it must be objectively measurable!

So why do some people prefer Degas to Monet, why is Damien Hirst worth more than my scribbles as a 6 year old?

Because the work forms a part of the whole personal brand of the artist.

The personal brand is what you buy into, align yourself with, and aspire to when you buy their art.  

Defining Personal Branding For Actors

So how does it work for you as an actor?

Well everybody has a personal brand, but most people just fall into theirs by accident, it is unintentional.

As an actor your personal brand is the reason you do or do not get called in for auditions or book the job.

According to labour statistics the average person only changes jobs once every 4 years, there are some actors who audition 4 times a day! And that’s not taking into account all the times you get submitted for a job but don’t get called in based on your brand not matching the creatives’ idea for the role.

Whenever someone discovers you for the first time, a casting director, an agent, they immediately start to pick up on hundreds of tiny signals that start to paint a picture in their mind of who you are and whether you are a good fit for what they need right now.

Remember; the casting process is a process of “elimination”.

Every one of your tiny signals tells the casting director a little more about how wrong you probably are for their part.

Or how right you might be.

Every little signal puts you closer to, or further off, their radar.

The thing is – you never know which little snippet of you they will see first that may forever shape the way they see you. First impressions take seconds to form and lifetimes to re-form. That’s why it’s so important to be intentional about what you’re communicating and consistent in the way you communicate that out into the world.

Your Personal Brand is the feeling people anticipate before you walk into the room, the impression you make when you’re in there, what people say about you when you leave again and the reputation you carry around with you afterwards.

It’s how you “show up” through everything you do – every job you take, every submission you make, every headshot or showreel scene, email or letter you send or conversation you have or that’s had about you.

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.

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September, 2023

Elder Price