To Brand or Not to Brand

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Debbie BridgeTo brand or not to brand, that is the question?

An actor’s life is not what it used to be. The terminology just boggles my mind. I read an article that states, “to make it in the entertainment industry, performers need a Brand.”

I can honestly say that Branding 101 may have been a bit more useful to my career than Drama 101.

My first brand experiences

Still, I’m battling on trying to make sense of what branding is and how to create it. I’ve been going to business events in my local area to get a better understanding of how business works. Through this networking I’ve managed to meet with a business guru and was asked, “If I was a car, what sort of car would I be?” And they say artsy people are out there, but at least I can relate and find it easy to answer, even if it seems a crazy way to find my ‘brand’.

Then I’ve been thrown into another foreign term: U.S.P. (unique selling point, just to clarify for those in the acting world and aren’t business savvy). Is it just me or are there others that find describing my U.S.P. is rather impossible? The suggestion of stepping outside of myself and looking at me from a ‘customers’ point of view seems, well literally, physically impossible, if not a bit painful. So I’m faced with the dilemma of how do I get past this if I don’t have the skills or budget to do it? (This may be a surprise to you, but artists really do not earn the big bucks, I definitely fall into the struggling multitudes).

Where I am on branding today

Many business courses later I have created a logo and instead of brand, I’m now using the terms: my own ‘blue ocean’. I have found this a lot easier than trying to ‘stand outside myself and see myself’. I’ve come to understand, as an actor, this is near impossible to do, unless you are one of those lucky few who are writer/actors, actor/directors, or whatever paring works for you. What do I mean by this? Well, people who can see things from both sides of the stage. I am someone, where I discovered, I’m very happy just working from the stage and don’t need to try and see myself from the writer or director’s chair. In fact, that gets me spinning in my head. So, how do performers like me get their own blue ocean? This is how I did it: I created my dream client, thanks to Dallas Travers, the actors advocate. She showed me simple steps on how to see, not me, but the other person I am selling my wares to, so to speak! Simple exercises like describing in detail your dream clients life and personality, so from there you can design what they like for colours, styles, etc. Then, you can turn all of that into your template for your own website with your own logo, brand, tag line and colours!

Who can help you

Also, services like the Union’s free, yes, I just said free or close enough to it, support. And people ask, “What the arts unions are good for?” Well, this is a biggy, these guys have helped me to understand all sorts of different parts of the ‘business’ side of the entertainment world – key word here: business! So who are these masked marauders of free help and how do you find them? They are the FEU and click on the link to find out more of how you too can gain from what they have to offer!

My last port of call on how to get help is to check out your local council. I have been very lucky to find inexpensive or, even, free workshops on new businesses or business support. Now, I’m not saying you need to do all of the above, like I have, to find your own brand, but it’s a lot like knowing your type as a cast able actor.

Thanks to Chrys Salt, – she teaches an oversubscribed course at the Actors Centre in London on skills development – I take the attitude, that part of my U.S.P. is I’m a middle aged female who hails from America with an easy casting for an bossy executive type and I don’t worry about the fact, I might get type cast. Chrys says, it’s best to work to type and once that preverbal foot is in the door, you can push it open in whatever direction you wish to go.

My overall experience of this brand thing has taken me, quite literally, places I never thought I would go, nor would I have said at the beginning it would help my acting skills, but I am more confident in who I am and what I have to offer and that is never a bad thing in an overburdened entertainment market, in fact, I believe it’s a key factor in learning how to stand above the rest without standing on them!

So I say, I’m OK with this brand thing and I’m lov’n my own blue ocean, where are you swimming these days?

Debbie Bridge


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