Wondering what personal branding really means and if it’s even relevant to you as an actor if you’re not a celebrity? You’re not alone.
That’s exactly why I put together this epic (but digestible) guide on all things personal branding for actors. Grab a notebook and get comfortable because I’m about to drop a whole bunch of personal brand gold on you! 😉
What is personal branding, how does it work, and as an actor, do you even need a personal brand? In this video, I’m going to give you the full scoop on personal branding for actors and how you can use it to book more auditions. So stay tuned.
Hello and welcome back. Or if this is your very first time to the channel, hello and welcome. My name is Kat Elizabeth. I’m an actor, video creator, and online entrepreneur living in Vancouver. As I said, today I’m talking to you about personal branding and how it’s not only crucial for actors to get this right, to book more auditions and land agents and all of those wonderful things, but how having the wrong personal brand or being confused about your personal brand could actually be stopping you from getting into the audition room.
By the way, if you stay right until the end, I have a bit of a special gift for you so it makes sure you keep on watching.
So let’s start with the foundations and talk about what a personal brand really is. It’s actually simpler than you think. It’s you. It’s how people perceive you, most importantly. And if you think about it like with normal branding, so for a big company or business, you see a Nike commercial on television and you don’t even have to often see the Nike logo to know it’s Nike because they have established such a strong sense of brand that we know exactly what they’re about. From the music that’s playing, the kind of actors that they hire, the messaging of the ad and the way it’s shot. It just says Nike. And when you as a person have your own strong brand, people also recognize you coming from a distance. You’re not this chameleon who does everything, but they start to go, “Oh yeah, I know that person. I know her personality, I know what she represents. I can get a good idea of what she’s going to bring to a role.”
So where people can get confused is type versus brand for an actor. Now type is really straightforward. It’s pretty much based on your demographics, it’s pretty limiting. It’s basically the age range that you can play, it’s whether you’re a guy or a girl, it’s your cultural background. It’s just a list of those very cliched roles that you could play.
Whereas when you bring in personal brand to it, that’s the flavor and that unique something that you bring to that role. You could have 10 different people that are all going for the role of 30-something female cop, but do you think all 10 of them are going to play the role of the same?
Or course not. And the best ones are going to bring something very unique to that role to not just try and be a good actor, but to bring something that’s special and fresh and it’s going to make them stand out. Doesn’t mean you get the role. But it does mean people start to remember you and you stand out from the crowd.
So as an actor, if all you think about is type and the basic roles that you could be playing, you’ve got a lot of competition. For instance, if I was thinking just about my type, it’s like, “Well yeah, I could play X number of roles. But I’d be up against thousands and thousands of other women in the same age range who kind of a similar look to me.”
However, if I focus on what I can do differently and better to everyone else, suddenly the competition goes away and it’s more like you’re in a competition with yourself, which is why figuring out your personal brand is just so powerful and is one of the biggest keys to having a successful long-lasting career.
So you’re probably wondering how do I even figure out my personal brand? And guess what? It’s actually really easy. Your personal brand comes from within. It’s your natural preferences. It’s your life experience, it’s your personality. I like to give the actors that I coach and exercise where they think about how they naturally respond to things like fear and sadness and joy because it’s in those little ways that we respond in real life that we start to get clues of what could make us different in the audition room.
For instance, if someone is yelling at you and getting angry with you, you’re not necessarily going to just yell back. Some people might cry, some people might get quiet, some people might want to punch that person. But where actors go wrong, not just in the audition room but in the way they market themselves, is they try and do the things that they think are going to appeal to casting directors and to their audience.
They’re trying to anticipate what they actually want from them instead of just going with their gut. Just being real and trusting that eventually they’re going to find the roles that are going to match up with that perfectly. As opposed to trying to be this chameleon who can do everything but also can do nothing because you never stand out.
So if this is something you’re struggling with, a really good exercise is to first write down a list of words that you think describe you, your personality and how you come across. But then I want you to go to five to 10 people that know you. Some people that know you really well and some people that don’t know you all that well. So it could be friends, family, colleagues.
Ask them to write down maybe five adjectives to describe you and the key as to whether you are doing your personal brand right, if you’re communicating your message well, is if their lists really overlap with your list. So the things that you feel on the inside or that you think you represent are actually coming out on the outside. That is when you’re in your sweet spot.
If, however, the things that you’re describing yourself are completely different to what other people are saying you are, then we’ve got a problem. A massive communication problem and that could be confusing potential agents, casting directors, and your general public as to what you’re really about.
Now, I want you to think about the roles that you’re going in and auditioning for versus the roles that you actually see yourself playing. And I’m not talking you’re going for tiny roles, but you really want to be a star. I’m talking about the kinds of characters that you’re being seen for. Because if there is a huge gap, if you think you’re this naturally quirky, bubbly, energetic person and you’re getting seen for these weak victims or very heavy roles or stuff that’s very dry, then somethings going wrong there. Either your agent doesn’t really understand what you’re about or you don’t understand what you’re about or you are giving off the wrong signals in things like headshots and your demo reel. And so that again is is an opportunity for you to take stock of what’s out there and go, “Is this all aligning? Are all my materials and my social media, my demo reels, my headshots, all aligning with who I think I really am?” And if they’re not you need to start working on that.
All right. Question of the day is I really want to know just how confident you feel that you know your personal brand and that you’re communicating it really well? So on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being I’m completely failing and clueless and 10 being you are the most slick personal brand pro, comment below with the number that best represents where you think you’re at. I’d love to know.
All right, so we’ve figured out our personal brand. Now it’s all about making sure we communicate it right. So as an actor there are so many ways you can do this and I’m just going to give you a few examples to get those juices flowing.
So number one, a headshot and more importantly editorial style photo shoots. So ones that show off your personality a lot more. So where a head shot can only say so much because it’s pretty tight, you don’t see much of the clothing, you generally are going, oh well this is commercial and this is my theatrical. You can’t go that crazy.
Editorial style shoot is one that’s just for you. And you usually use those photos on social media and IMDB. So they’re going to be more relaxed. You’re going to show more of your body. You can be candid and laughing or brooding, wearing different styles of clothing that you think are you. Use different locations to tell a story. And these kinds of things are just going to add all sorts of detail that your headshots can’t add. Obviously once you’ve got those photos then you can be sharing them on social media, on your website, and everything as well.
But what is also powerful to use on social media and websites is your bio. They don’t have to be dry and written in the third person. I don’t know when this thing started, but these days writing in first person with some real personality, not just about, “Oh, I was in this show and this show and this show and this show. But talking about your life and what makes you laugh and what you’re talented at and something weird about yourself.” That’s a great opportunity to show off your personal brand.
You can also take your website a little bit further and make sure you’re choosing colors and fonts that represent you too, that send a little bit more of a subliminal message about who you are. You don’t have to just go black and white and keep it simple. Although don’t use mine as an example, it’s very black and white. But I like that.
You can be using colors that play with color psychology and some fonts that show a little bit more personality and that is already going to give people a certain feeling when they land on your site and then as they start reading and seeing your photos and your demo reel, it’ll really pull the whole picture together.
An email signature is another great place to show off your personal brand. So it doesn’t have to necessarily be your headshot. It could be a little bit more of a quirky shot that shows off your personality and you could have something like a quote or something that you really love in there that’s just another hint of who you are and what you represent.
Same thing goes for your business cards, if you’re into business cards. It’s totally up to you. But you can do the exact same thing. The clothes that you wear day to day as well as at your additions. In fact more the clothes day to day are going to speak volumes about who you are and your personality.
And if you’re just kind of living day to day in gym gear, not because you’re obsessed with yoga, but because it’s easy, you could actually be letting yourself down. Because the way we wear our clothes affects how we walk and present ourselves. And you never know when you’re going to bump into someone or have an opportunity come up. I think it’s really important to dress the part day to day as an actor, as you know, even if you’re unemployed, you’re not on set or anything, there’s something about dressing for the life that you want to have, which does not mean spending tons of money on clothes, but using your clothes to express your personality and your professionalism is really powerful.
And then it’s going to be so much easier when you go into an audition to dress for your true personal style as opposed to reading the brief and go, “Oh, she wears a black suit.” And you go in wearing a black suit. There’s so much more I could say on following briefs as far as wearing very specific clothing choices, but there is definitely power in showing up and wearing what you think the character would wear as opposed to what you think the script says the character is wearing.
And then the most obvious one is probably the clips in your demo reel, or maybe it’s not obvious. When we’re getting started it can be difficult because you don’t have that much footage that you can pull together, so you just put anything together. But that’s where there’s the power of having a self-tape real that you use to actually show off your real strengths as an actor. I’ll link to a video that I did earlier on this and give you some instructions on what that really means because it’s such a powerful tool to communicate your personal brand to your agent, which is my final point.
If your agent doesn’t know what you’re about, doesn’t understand your strengths, hasn’t seen you in all of your glory, then you’ve got a problem because how are they supposed to know which roles to push you for? So it’s really important that once you’ve done all of this work and you do have everything in place, all of your marketing materials, you’ve done the personal work, you’re clear on who you really are and who you want to be as and as an actor and the roles you want to play, you need to have that talk with your agent to make sure that you’re on the same page and that is going to make everything so much smoother moving forward.
Now the final thing to keep in mind is that your personal brand is going to change because you do. As humans, we’re always growing and evolving and going through different experiences that affect our personalities and our preferences. And so the idea is not to find your personal brand and lock it in place and have it never change for the rest of your life. It’s to know that it’s an evolving process. So you’re going to do your best to figure it out now, but then you get to keep tabs on it. And if you feel like the way your coming across as a person is starting to really change in the future, just make sure that it’s still consistent with your photos, with your demo real, with the way you’re dressing. And update it as you need to.
And same thing, it might be time then to have another chat with your agent and go, “Look, I know I’m still going for these kinds of roles, but I actually think these are the kinds of roles that I’m better suited to these days.” And just make sure that the communication is open with them.
So this was your personal branding for actor’s crash course. There is so much more I could say on it, but hopefully that’s making a little bit more sense and the juices are flowing. Now I did promise you a freebie and I meant it. So what I’ve got for you today is that I put together a little personal branding worksheet for you so that you can do your own homework and start to get closer to figuring out what your personal brand is and how to communicate it. So if you want a copy of that, it’s free, no strings attached, just out follow the link in the description box below.
So I also offer coaching sessions via Zoom, which is private one-on-one video sessions where we can dive deeper into personal branding, career strategy, helping you navigate changes like finding new agents or moving to a new city. So if you’re interested in that, I’ll include a link to that as well.
But otherwise, if you like the video, give it a thumbs up, subscribe so you don’t miss out on future weekly videos and please share this with your actor friends as well because I’m sure there’ll be grateful for the help. And if you’re feeling a little bit more confident in figuring out your personal brand after watching this, put personal branding pro in the comments below so I know. Thanks as always for watching. Can’t wait to see you next time. Bye!
COACH WITH KAT: https://kat-elizabeth.com/work-with-kat/
Kat is an actor and personal branding coach as well as the host of The Personal Branding Project Podcast and her self-titled YouTube channel. She started her career off by playing Marilyn at Warner Bros Movie World, went on to perform in the original Australian casts of Jersey Boys & Hairspray and eventually found herself writing/producing her own work before becoming a self-employed copywriter and marketing strategist. She now offers 1:1 Coaching and Online Courses for entrepreneurs, freelancers + multi-passionate creatives.