When you have a strong actor brand, it can be a lot of fun as you find fun ways to express your brand.
If know exactly how you want to represent yourself, you really find your self-expression in it. Most importantly, you’re at ease and you have confidence knowing your branding is where it needs to be.
Most actors, however, are not 100% confident they’ve nailed their branding. If that’s you, it might even be that you’re not exactly sure how to present your brand once you’ve identified what it is. In most cases, you get so many mixed messages about how you should present yourself that you can miss out on a huge opportunity to really set yourself apart.
In this content, I’m going to give you Five Questions that you can use as a starting point for assessing how your branding is coming along.
What is Branding For Actors?
To say it in just a few words, when it gets down to it, if you’ve done anything to promote your acting career, you have engaged in some type of branding activities.
Every way in which you present yourself or something related to you to the public, that image contributes to how other people perceive you… meaning how they perceive your brand.
From your headshots — which is the first thing most actors think of when it comes to actor branding — to your email signature at the bottom of your emails, to your voice mail message, and the emojis you use in texting. All of these things add another impression to the overall picture of your brand.
Create a consistent Image!
Let’s do a brief assessment.
Five Questions to Assess the Overall State of Your Brand as an Actor
These questions will get you in the mindset of branding and thinking about the affect of it.
1. Are you getting auditions consistently?
If you’re not getting calls for auditions consistently, it could be for any number of reasons. You might need to find a strong, solid agent who really “gets you.”
You also need to have a professional-looking actor resume, good training, and great headshots.
But even when you have all of these things, you still need a strong Actor Brand to to give a consistent message about who you are, what kind of roles you would be right for, and what you’re like as a person to work with.
All of these things mentioned above are part of your Actor Branding: from the type and length of training you have, to how your resume is laid out, to how professional and specific your headshots are.
If you want a solid agent who “gets you,” they have to have a clear picture about what your brand is. If you’re not getting consistent auditions, one or more aspects of your branding could be improved.
2. Are you getting calls for the right kinds of roles?
It is as tough as ever to get legitimate good auditions in Hollywood. Even though there’s more content needed than ever.
That means it is even more exciting when you do get the auditions. The problem is, too often actors tell me that when they finally do get auditions, it’s for roles they’re not right for, so it can be very discouraging.
One of the most critical factors in any kind of branding is consistency. If you’re getting auditions for the wrong type of role, there’s clearly an inconsistency in how you are being seen by yourself and others. Or even between two other people.
I had this problem arise before for myself when I was acting. My commercial agent had me touch-up one particular headshot in a certain way — adding a shadow along my jawline. I don’t know if she thought it was a little too wide or what–but I did it! It wasn’t noticeable when I looked at the photo, and I thought it still looked exactly like me.
That photo got me call for a really good theatrical agent right away. I dressed up in exactly the same outfit and fixed my hair and makeup the same as in the headshot. I walked into the meeting, and within minutes, the female agent threw my headshot down on the desk (this was before digital!), and she said: “This is not you. The girl I see in the photo is not the person in front of me.”
“This is not you. The girl I see in the photo is not the person in front of me.” — A mean ol’ agent!
I was a bit surprised to hear this since my hair and outfit were the same as in the photo. But in reality… in my heart… I knew that it was because there was a different vibe now coming through the photo…. Hard to say exactly what struck her differently, but that’s not really the point.
For her there was something inconsistent about my VIBE in the photo and how I came across in person. And I wasted her time. I actually didn’t feel like I wasted mine because I learned a valuable lesson!
There were other lessons I got from that meeting that day, but I’ll save those for other posts.
Back to Your Actor Branding
Bottomline, if you’re getting called in for the wrong roles, there is inconsistency in your branding.
You have to get at least your agent and manager and yourself on the same page regarding how you are presented. Otherwise, people are getting mixed messages and that always weakens your branding.
3. Does your website show all of your different talents to promote how multi-faceted you are? (It shouldn’t!)
I’ve worked with a lot of very talented and creative people. By nature, pursuing an acting career often requires you to have multiple skills and to be flexible and learn skills fast for jobs that are not your standard 9 to 5 gig.
Also by nature, actors are curious and creative and like to explore other skills and talents and lifestyle activities.
Because of this, actors often end up with a variety of skills, and end up promoting too many of their varied skills and talents on their website. That always ends up being distracting.
If your website tries to sell your skills in acting, singing, dancing, kids party clown, web design skills, baby-sitting, dog-walking, and Uber driver, then it is distracting from the main message of your Actor Brand.
Some skills complement acting, but some don’t.
Even being a great singer can be a distraction to promote on your actor’s website if it’s note done with a solid branding strategy.
It depends on your overall branding plan. You may in fact have many different talents and that’s great in general, but sometimes it can be confusing and distracting for your branding, so you have to be very strategic in what you present.
When you’re branding yourself as an actor, or any kind of personal branding for that matter, you must lead your audience, your customers to see you a certain way. If you present too many things, the 100% of the pie gets divided amongst them all and weakens the branding you might offer on your acting skills.
On to the next question in our assessment.
4. Does your main promo include headshots or demo tape of you from 10 or 15 years ago?
Have you ever heard the Hollywood saying, “You’re only as good as your last movie?” If you hadn’t heard it before…. you have now! See all the good stuff you’re learning here?
Or maybe you’ve heard, “What have you done lately?”
Hollywood is about making money on the next project. An actor’s cache is only as good as the latest work they’ve done. Having a couple of Guest Star credits from 10 or 12 years ago means very little today — whenever today is.
Twelve year old credits are never the main thing you should be promoting. You need to be actively engaged in your career RIGHT NOW.
I realize you might be someone who took time away from acting for any number of reasons — taking care of sick parents, tending to children, following the love of your life to Australia, or maybe you even just got burnt out on the whole business. That’s okay, that’s where you are. And it’s great that you want to get back to something you love!
However, you need to update your branding, get fresh headshots, get on Actors Access, and so on. Make the most of the time you’ve been gone.
If you’ve been gone for 10 or 15 years, you obviously have more life experience, so maybe a different vibe needs to come through your photos.
The point is, don’t create a grainy demo reel that has a clip from your one-liner on the TV sitcom Friends. We need you to be CURRENT!
One final clue that your branding could be stronger.
5. Does your website or Actors Access have LOTS OF HEADSHOTS AND DEMO CLIPS… covering a full range of emotions and all the different roles you can play? (It shouldn’t!)
In the previous point, I mentioned the situation where an actor has taken time away and doesn’t have current branding; this point is the opposite.
If you’ve been going hard at your career for 5, 10, 15 years or more, then you might be on the opposite side and have lots of headshots of all different types you could use.
If you’re a consummate serious actor type and have done lots of plays, lots of headshot sessions, tons of low-budget independent films, and a few TV roles, then there’s a good chance you have dozens and even hundreds of different types of shots that you could post from over the years.
The problem is, if you use too many different styles of shots, it can be confusing for your brand. If the role you’re most proud of is you dressed as a queen for a period piece in a play you did two years ago, and that’s your front and center shot, then your branding needs to be refined. Even if you won Best Actor in a Play for that year in L.A.
The point is… BRANDING.
Clarify your branding to be what you want to promote.
Whatever your feelings might be about your branding, ask yourself these questions. If any of these are true, then it indicates an area that having a stronger Actor Brand will help.
Ultimately, no matter how much or how little branding you’ve done for your acting career, if it’s not working to help you reach your goals, there’s more work to do on your branding and promoting that brand. And you need to be crystal clear what it is.
Once you identify and clarify what your brand is and what you want it to stand for, then everything you do related to promoting yourself as an actor should be generated from that inner knowledge and understanding of your brand.
Your marketing. Your headshots. Your conversations. Everything should come from your branding design.
If you don’t know what your brand is or you are ready to fully develop it so you are confident about it and free to fully express it, then you might want to check out my upcoming online video course called Authentic Branding Bootcamp For Actors.
In it you will go create a brand you love and end up with your own Actor Brand Playbook so you’ll know exactly how to present your brand to the world in a way that shows the true awesome you. You’ll also gain an incredible amount of confidence in the business of acting and how you present yourself.
Just put your name in here to learn more about the course as it will be released in January, 2019. Also, by putting your name in here before then, you will get an opportunity to get in the discounted Launch Price since it’s the first time it’s being presented.