What Is Personal Branding & Why is it Important?
Whether you’re an actor, performer, photographer, trainer, filmmaker, production company or retailer, developing a personal brand for you or your company takes a lot of hard work and it will not happen overnight – so get started!
People talk about branding a lot and there’s a good reason: It’s important.
What do you get when you sit down to watch a Tom Hanks movie? How about a Bruce Willis film? What about an episode of The Kardashians? You have a fairly good idea what the answer is to those questions and it’s not by chance. Not by a longshot.
When you want to watch a movie with your mom and your little brother still in grade school – my guess is you will opt for the Tom Hanks movie because you don’t want to be embarrassed over some gratuitous sex scene, sitting there with your mom – and you don’t want your innocent little brother bothered or even traumatized by seeing graphic and senseless violence.
That’s the Tom Hanks branding. Fun, sad, thoughtful, interesting – yes – but violent, twisted and inappropriate for little ones, no. This thought process you have regarding Mr. Hank’s work did not happen on a lark – he worked hard for it and probably turned down his share of gigantic Miramax paydays to build and keep his brand solid, so you and mom and kiddo can all spend an evening together.
When they go to bed, you’re probably switching over to a Tarantino film to thrill yourself, perhaps, but keep in mind that branding is a lucrative, long-run play which takes time, effort and sacrifice – especially in today’s market. You’d ideally like to be seen as one of the aforementioned stars, insofar as people know what they’re getting into when they notice your brand. With any luck, it’s something they are interested in now and 30 years from now.
Once your brand is developed, established, promoted and distributed – the benefits are endless., but how, Rodney Lee, how do I get started and more importantly: Why?
Demonstrating your knowledge and skillset in a particular field is enough reason to develop and promote your personal brand – but to really cash in on it means building your brand in order to show your audience and potential benefactors exactly what your know, why you know it and how they can benefit by being in a room with you. In a nutshell, you want to be set apart from the other also-rans who might be gunning for the same account, job, casting part, or general opportunity you desire.
You will always have competition and if you work smarter in the area of branding, your name will be called more often than folks who do not understand this. Bottom line is that there may be many other who are younger, richer, more talented and connected than you – but if they don’t take the time to build their own personal brand – you win, ma bratha or sis.
Never up, never in, I say (usually when putting a golf ball), but a strong personal brand will lead to more:
Your personal brand is the foundation upon which you will attain success for your future and will help you reach your goals and desires in both the short and long term. Your brand will build your contacts, your circle of influence, reputation and overall career which leads to overall success.
The lion’s share of businesses are branded and they make money by developing and reinforcing that brand. In entertainment, quite often you are your business and therefore, you are your brand. People need to do the same thing as Nike or MacDonald’s when it comes to projecting something people desire and expect. You’re selling and marketing yourself and your personal brand is the road to making it.
What is a “personal brand”?
The first thing I would do is google yourself and ask yourself what would a prospective employer, casting agent, producer, potential customer, or investor think? If there are few or no results, my guess is you haven’t thought this through much and need to begin… NOW!
What you would ideally see are links and descriptions which lead to your business pages, social media presence, articles and reviews featuring yourself – just to name a few. Just skimming the links should give a person a very good idea of what you do, why you do it and why they should care. Your branding should be consistent and positive in every way, giving the audience a confident feeling about dealing with you.
Your voice, appearance, skillset, logo, description, etc. should all focus on what you are about and not leave anything to mistake regarding your abilities and reputation, regardless of where people click to find out all about you.
You might be thinking; ‘well, what about Madonna?’ and while it’s true that Madonna, over the decades, has constantly reinvented herself – she’s also been vigilant with her branding as (“Who’s that girl”?) the performer who is always presenting something new, exciting, different and of course, sexy.
The aforementioned Madonna and Tom Hanks have been grinding this out for 40 years, but for you it has never been more important – especially when you consider that the millennial generation on the whole does not trust larger businesses or entities which utilize traditional advertising, marketing and promotion.
Have you ever seen a “viral video” that looked slick? One with a giant sponsor logo on it? I haven’t. They are almost always jerky, out of focus, low production value one-offs – usually captured with a cell phone. The fact is, if anyone – even large companies knew how to make viral videos – they’d be doing it all day long. The point here is that people nowadays do not expect high production value, unless they are watching a feature film or television drama on NetFlix or the like.
This is why influencer promotion and content is so successful these days and that’s where personal branding comes in so strongly. In other words, building your brand like a business, but still retaining a personal connection inspires a lot of trust amongst your prospective or existing audience.
Someone is watching
If you doubt what I am telling you, you do so at your own risk because somebody is constantly screening, googling, asking or clicking around to find out about you online. It is just the way it is – mostly because it is so easy and believe me, laziness is still a thing.
First things first:
Clean up your room and make your bed. Seriously, that advice still holds up – I don’t care how old you are or when you moved out. You simply must start by cleaning up your social media accounts and other web presence to reflect your personal branding.
Cleaning your existing presence:
You actually CAN control your online reputation and a good first start is getting rid of, and not posting anything on social media that will impact your personal presence in a negative way. Remember: Perception is reality and if there is something people may take the wrong way – fix it. Delete it. Scrub it and rewrite it if you can. Put yourself in your audience or customer’s shoes and ask honestly how your existing social media profile and reputation is affected by what people see.
Outside of social media – if you don’t have a personal website, get one. It’s not brain surgery and one’s credibility in their industry or world is heavily impacted by their personal website presence. Use this site to not only build your brand, but to add value with your audience or prospective clients. This is your platform to showcase your knowledge, skills, experience, and / or standing in your chosen field. If you have immediate and valuable information or advice to share with your target audience, you’ll have instant credibility.
Creating a logo and theme – and keeping it consistent throughout all your social media assets and websites – is now more critical than ever. Also daily updating or more will keep your audience coming back more often. If even once they see the same old thing up there – chances are they won’t come back without direct prodding and that is a lot of extra work to retain your audience.
Speaking of which – it’s now time to define who your audience is and to flush out a content strategy with that definition in mind. Custom, specialized and personal content kills several birds with one stone when trying to build an email list following or increasing likes and followers on social media.
Okay – google yourself. I’ll wait.