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Branding For Actors (Part 3)

September 1, 2010

Develop a resource of online Branding ToolsBranding For Actors (Part 3)

Hello, and welcome to September and the third and final part of this section of the blog – Branding. Today we will develop a handy little resource of tools that you will refer to again and again as you start marketing yourself online.  The good news is – if you read yesterday’s post (find it here) you’ve already completed the first point.

The Branding Toolbox:

As you work through the following list, it’s a smart idea to get second and third opinions, especially from as many professionals in your industry and you can get your stuff in front of. Sometimes what ‘feels’ right to you, might not achieve the desired effect from others. What is your desired effect? In every choice you make, your aim is to clearly and consistently communicate you brand to your audience.

1. Your branding keywords. (A summary of the 5 most authentic terms that define your business, sourced from the Acknowledge and Embrace exercises in yesterday’s post.).  Add these to your site, your blogs, Tweets, include them in your bio, search for castings using them too.

2. Your menu of Bios – one for all occasions!  You can start with your 1-liner. (The combination of your unique traits and what you specialize in), you’ll also need a version that is a paragraph long (140 characters for your Twitter page). This is often referred to as the evaluator pitch as you should be able to rattle it off to a person by the time you reach the next floor.  (Try it next time you’re in a lift on your own, or not if you’ve feeling inspired.) Finally you should have a full length bio, anywhere from half a page to a full page at the absolute most (and not in size 6 font either).

3. Your band name, your stage name, your logo. I could write another post (at least) on creating a logo, instead I’ll list the absolute must-haves whether you create it yourself, or someone else does this for you. If you haven’t already, now is the time to commit to one name by which you will now always be known! Whether you have a stage name or you go by your legal name, make sure every presence you have online (and offline) is consistent.
*Make sure your logo works in both color and black and white.

*Make sure it’s legible.

*It should be completely unique – don’t rip off someone else’s.

*It should be true to your brand.

*As an Actor, stick to classic fonts please!  It’s simply bad taste to use something that looks like it’s made of bubblegum or other fonts that fall into the ‘novelty’ category – yes, even if you’re a comedian.  Trust me!

*If in doubt, default to Helvetica.

4. Your fonts. Choose two fonts that you will use consistently.  The first selection should be from the list of standard, web friendly fonts. You can search via Google to get the full list. This font will be used for most of your online, text-heavy content. Using a standard font will give you more control over the consistency of layouts and design and how your audience will see your online content. (Examples of these are Times New Roman, Helvetica and Gil Sans.) If you use decorative, non-standard fonts, and the viewer doesn’t have it loaded on their computer, a substitute font will be used and the results are never pretty.  The second font can be a little more decorative, and is most commonly the font used in your logo.  It will be used for headings, and subheading and as an accent/design element to your pages.

5. Your color-palette. Chose 2-3 primary colors, and 2-3 secondary colors. Your choice should be based on your brand; different colors communicate different feelings and moods, consider how a room painted powder pink makes you feel, vs. a room painted a rich, ruby red.  Create a reference document in Photoshop (or if you’re not Photoshop savvy, ask someone do this for you). You can use the template below as a guide.  As you can see, the secondary colors compliment the primary.  You’ll also notice that the colors have been noted in RGB (online, digital) and CMYK (print).  If you don’t know how to obtain these formulas, search via Google or ask someone with Photoshop know-how to do it for you.

Resource: A great read in Smashing Magazine on the Psychology of Color (for designers): http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/28/color-theory-for-designers-part-1-the-meaning-of-color/

6. Your images. You should have two to three images (photos) that you use consistently.  Try and choose one in landscape format and one in portrait, or a shot that can be work both ways. If you are using colored shots (and this is the standard for head-shots in all sectors of the industry now), choose one that works well in black and white.  Your image may be downloaded and printed on a black and white printer by a casting director or other important person, so check that your shot works both ways.

Make sure you have at least one primary headshot that works in thumbnail size. This is how it will be viewed on many casting sites, 3/4 shots will get lost on a page of 50-odd thumbnails of close-up faces.
Again, the tone and style of these images should be true to your brand.  If, when completing the exercises in yesterday’s post, you’ve redefined your brand dramatically, and your current photos don’t comply with the new you, have them retaken. For actors, this is one of the most important sales tools you have and should exude your brand. Your friends might be impressed with how you can look like a magistrate in one shot, and a beach bum in the next, but this will only confuse casting directors. Keep the looks that vary from your brand in your arsenal, but only use them for specific, relevant casting calls, not on your profiles and sites.

7. Your avatar. Avatar is not just a movie by James Cameron.  For our purposes, it’s also an icon that represents your brand. Avatars are often small (as tiny as 1/4 inch x 1/4 inch), and square in size.  They are used when you comment on blogs and social networking sites, and as IM (Instant Message) identifiers.  The key to an effective avatar is a design that is reminiscent of your logo and brand, but a much simplified version. Check out Last.fm for an example of a good avatar design.  An alternate is your primary head-shot, especially if it has a dominant color, and can be trimmed to a small square whilst maintaining some semblance of you.

8. Your voice/tone. Everyone writes and talks with a different style and tone. You could be warm and conversational, concise and to the point or humorous and cynical.  This tone should also be considered a part of your brand, be true to it as you write bios, blogs and create profile online. Define your tone and keep it consistent across all of your communication, online, in person and in print.  Every communication, from a phone call, to your back-stage banter to your blogs and voicemail message should be in your Brand’s unique voice. No matter what your tone – make sure you still retain an air of professionalism. After all, that is what you are!

That’s all for Branding, but tomorrow we’ll take a look at defining goals and developing a plan for your online Marketing efforts.

Until then – Keep sharing!

“He who gives when he is asked has waited too long.”

(Unknown)

Image by dbarosen via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

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