HERE'S WHAT HAPPENED
I binge watched a show where all of the main characters were famous public figures, always in the spotlight. They worked for a company that built each of their platforms with a very particular set of branding standards. The way they dressed and what they said were all dictated by the company.
Throughout the series, they kept making compromising decisions because doing what they wanted to do "didn't fit their brand," as one character said.
I thought, "Wow. You should've had more say in your branding." Their brands had gotten so far from who they actually were that they were each starting to breakdown under the pressure of living a lie.
That's why it's so important for you to build a personal brand that's true to who you are. In this post, we'll take a deep dive into personal branding.
Even if you do hire a PR firm or brand specialist one day, you need to communicate what you want and simply have them wrap it in a bow. Otherwise, you'll find yourself trapped in someone else's opinion of who you should be.
Simply put, your personal brand is YOU. But what the heck does that mean?
WHY SHOULD ACTORS HAVE A PERSONAL BRAND?
"Personal branding is becoming increasingly important because modern audiences tend to trust people more than corporations..." - Inc.com
Lucky us! Actors are people. This means we have a distinct advantage to building our brands because they're automatically personal.
WHAT IS A PERSONAL BRAND FOR ACTORS?
Remember when I said your personal brand is YOU? Let's dig into this idea a little further.
"Personal branding isn't about coming up with a complicated strategy. Rather, it's about knowing who you are and what you stand for, and then finding ways to make that visible." -Forbes.com
This means we need to become more self-aware.
HOW DO ACTORS CREATE A PERSONAL BRAND?
Essentially, we need to put down who we are on paper, and then decide what aspects of us we want to share with the world.
Digging into who you are on a deeper level can be tough. Sharing those aspects of yourself can be even tougher.
What if we get rejected?!
Can I tell you a secret?
You WANT people to reject you--in life and in the casting process.
Let me 'splain.
We absolutely 100% cannot make everyone in the world like us--no matter who we are. Ok, maybe if we're Paul Rudd.
But if you happen to NOT be Paul Rudd, then know that there are people out there that totally get you, and it's better to give your energy and attention to them.
How do we apply this to the casting process?
The short answer is that I'm not always a good fit for a role, which means that role wouldn't be worth it to me in the long run anyway.
I have to trust the casting director's gut if they decide I'm not a good fit for the role. I also need to trust my gut if I feel like a role isn't right for me.
I'm not promoting that we should consider ourselves "better" than a role, but rather learn to live with the idea that some roles just aren't meant for us.
The same is true for your fans and followers. You're perfect for some people, and straight up wrong for others. Who wants to hang out with people that don't like them?
So let's boldly be ourselves knowing that we'll have haters no matter what.
PERSONAL BRANDING BRAINSTORM FOR ACTORS
This brainstorm consists of the five top questions actors need to ask themselves to kickstart their personal branding. I have a PDF download at the bottom of this post so you can write out your answers if you want.
QUESTION 1: WHAT WORDS DO YOU USE?
You should talk the way you actually talk. Out of all the words in the world, which ones do you actually use? Do you curse, use slang, use modest language, speak properly with 100% correct grammar, or are you grandiloquent? If I started dropping F-bombs, everyone would think an alien had taken over my body.
QUESTION 2: HOW DO YOU DRESS?
I had to break up with Target clothing recently. Hopefully, this doesn't last, but over the last year or two, I swear I could only find midriff tops and half shirts. That's not my jam. My goodies, not my goodies. Also, I would be freezing all of the time, and if I pay full price for a shirt, I would like an entire shirt, please.
If no one ever paid attention to what you were wearing, what would you wear? Sometimes your day job dictates this, but I mean outside of a mandatory dress code. Do you dress modestly, chic, high fashion, scantily clad, athleisure, or tacky?
Yes, tacky. I went to school with a guy whose family was loaded, but we were in a low-income school district. He dressed in the tackiest outfits he could find as a symbol of his family's wealth not defining him. I had a friend who would wear borderline costumes to school that he found at Goodwill because...that's what he wanted to do.
QUESTION 3: WHAT'S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
I moved to a new city for a bit to try out a different film market, and this particular area had a large market for outdoor recreational activities such as hiking. When I went to Whole Foods to buy groceries, I noticed they had an REI in the same shopping strip.
I think those stores are so cool because they have such a specific brand and vibe to them, but I always walk away thinking, "Eh, that's just not me." It's not that I don't like getting outside, but I'm not outdoorsy enough to invest a lot of money into a ton of outdoor products.
Think about everything that's important to you, no matter how small. How do you feel when I say words like: politics, activism, faith, charity, organic, local, outdoors, cooking, sports, art, decorating, hunting, or books? Now run the topics that are important to you through the filter of the next question.
QUESTION 4: HOW CONTROVERSIAL DO YOU WANT TO BE?
Some topics that are important to you may be very polarizing, like politics. You'll need to make a decision about how you want to share your thoughts based on how controversial you want to be perceived.
On a scale of one to ten, how controversial do you want to be?
(Not at all) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 (Very)
Some topics will create controversy no matter what, but how you talk about these topics is very important. Your tone will play a big part in how controversial you seem to others.
You can talk about hard topics in an easy-going manner, or you can be highly energetic about anything. Your best bet is to communicate however comes most naturally to you, but don't force a personality into your conversations that you don't actually have.
Also, don't force yourself (or get persuaded) to talk about topics you don't actually care about. Did you know there's actually media training on how to avoid topics when you're getting interviewed?
You may also have fans or followers (or trolls) that try to steer you into topics that are important to them, but not to you. I'm telling you to stay true to what you think is important! You do not need to cater to everyone.
QUESTION 5: WHAT THREE WORDS DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO DESCRIBE YOU WITH?
Notice that I said which three words do you want people to use. You need to compare that to the three words people actually use. You can simply ask, and I breakdown an easy way to do that here in the personal branding section of my Actor Boss Pro course.
Download the printer-friendly worksheet below to write out your answers. Yes, I said write, as in with a pencil. It really does give you more clarity. Plus, you won't be bothered with other distractions on your screen.
If you really need a digital copy, simply take a picture with your phone or scan it with an app once you've finished writing out your answers.
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HEY ACTOR BOSS,
I'm a screen actor and certified goals coach focused on helping other screen actors that are not yet a household name achieve their most urgent goal.