I think I know the answer to this question already. But I’m asking it anyway. “Why is everyone so dang afraid of branding?” I hear people say that if they hear about actor branding or typing or targeted marketing one more time, they’re gonna lose it. I watch actors’ eyes glaze over as we talk about focused, meaningful submissions vs. slinging spaghetti at the wall and hoping something will stick.

I know. You want to talk about the craft. You want to believe casting has everything to do with talent. You are a storyteller and you have a gift and you want to share that with the world and that should be enough. And it would be. Except you’re trying to be heard above the noise of hundreds of thousands of other actors. Your buyers are bombarded with options. And that’s where branding sets you apart.

As I’ve said before, knowing your type is a shortcut, not a limiting factor. It’s about efficiency in communicating what you’re about so the buyers don’t have to wonder. (Because that time spent wondering is actually time spent convincing themselves it’s not worth the risk, since they’re not sure what they’re going to get with you, so they move on to the next, better-branded actor, or known commodity.) Absolutely, once your audience knows what to expect of you, branding is less essential, because your work is your brand. They know what they’re getting because they’ve seen what you can do and trust you’ll do it again. But before you’re at that coveted status with your audience of buyers, being well-branded and communicating that confidently is your ticket in.

Let me share with you something that Jeff Bollow wrote, about why screenwriters need to develop a compelling logline for their projects, as a part of the pitch process. I’ve adapted some of his language to broaden the scope to include actors and their audience.

  1. It saves the producers, agents, managers, casting directors, etc., time. It’s a time-management thing, not a judgment about you.
  2. It demonstrates the marketing angle. If one can’t imagine how to sell you, it’s not going to be easy approaching buyers.
  3. It pulls them in. Which would you rather experience? One whose concept is vague or one that upon hearing it gets you excited?
  4. It lets them know you’re a professional. Pros are good with words and self-assessment.

Okay, so hopefully that solidifies some of the why behind the powerful pitch, the compelling logline, the whole of branding and knowing your type and marketing toward and audience that is interested in consistently buying exactly that.

So, I’m writing this week’s column from Sydney, Australia. I KNOW! It’s awesome. I’m here doing a week of workshops with fellow casting directors Matthew Barry, Lisa Beach, Lisa Fields, Joseph Middleton, Monika Mikkelsen, Paul Weber, Gary Zuckerbrod, and a “we’re not allowed to use his name in the literature, but it’s a studio bigwig” casting director too. The Australian Institute for Performing Arts (under the direction of Marg Haynes, in affiliation with Kari Harris Casting) is a group I’ve worked with several times both in Los Angeles and now in Sydney, and communicating with Australian actors about what living and working in Los Angeles is like is an exciting challenge.

But just like happens with actors in Hollywood (or anywhere, I’d imagine), there are those who get it and those who resist it. Case in point, I just got this Facebook message from an actor who was in my “Knowing and Playing Your Type” workshop this week.

Thanks, Bonnie, for an absolutely rocking workshop on knowing your type. Rather then feeling limited, I feel liberated because now I have a solid base to work from, and which people will identify with me. No matter what your type, it is always flavoured with YOU, and while others may share your type no-one but you is… you. It’s great!! Sky is still the limit though. 🙂

Awesome. When you embrace that getting clear on your primary type, refining your materials to communicate your brand effectively, and targeting your marketing to those who most consistently cast actors of your type in projects you’d love to be a part of is empowering, you can think less about it than you might imagine. Think about that: Once you get it and do it, you no longer have to even worry about it. Because you’re well-branded and everything you do is in service of communicating that brand efficiently to the specific buyers of that brand, you can relax about it all and then you get to do all of that fun craft and storytelling stuff you so crave doing.

Cool, huh?

Bonnie Gillespie is living her dreams by helping others figure out how to live theirs. Wanna work with Bon? Start here. Thanks!

Originally published by Actors Access at http://more.showfax.com/columns/avoice/archives/001114.html. Please support the many wonderful resources provided by the Breakdown Services family. This posting is the author’s personal archive.

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  1. Elizabeth MacLeod February 23, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I love your perspective on things. You are brilliant and see through special eyes. Like when you said… it saves the producers, agents…etc… time… Love that. Such a great way to look at things.. opens doors. and yes… it’s about communicating… Yeah… it’s cool! 🙂

  2. Susie Mordoh February 23, 2014 at 4:58 pm

    What a gift to be able to help others feel liberated from focusing, your perspective is so valuable!

  3. april February 23, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    wonderful, bonnie! recently i have concentrated my efforts on my own branding – so important no matter what industry you’re in to infuse your business with your own personality and flair.

  4. Bonnie Gillespie February 23, 2014 at 11:18 pm

    Elizabeth — Thank you. As always, you’re so good to me. I look forward to more collaboration with you!

    Susie — Thank you! I really hope folks don’t see specificity as limiting. Yes, liberating — that’s what I want! 😀

    April — I’m so glad to know you’re getting down with BRAND YOU! I so adore your writing!

  5. Cathy February 24, 2014 at 6:37 am

    So important, no matter the field, Bonnie.

    While my own branding is still in the young sprout stage, I have a very clear idea of what I want it to be. I look forward to the day of feeling that “everything you do is in service of communicating that brand efficiently to the specific buyers of that brand” – at least the words are there…just need the visuals to go with it!

  6. Dana February 24, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    Bon, this post is brimming with great insight. My branding message is young and new, I certainly feel facets of my message morphing into where my values and passion are deeply rooted. Finding my unique voice in a sea of conversations.

  7. Cheryl February 24, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    When building consistency in my message and my presence, essentially my branding, is when it all became easier to reach the people that I need to reach. I was very fearful at first that it would typecast me in a particular niche but not being the jack of all trades has definitely grown my audience and made my job so much easier. Thanks Bonnie.

  8. Denise Marie Filmore February 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm

    Lovely testimony Bonnie! I am in the process of re-branding myself. And thanks to my tribe, I am on my way to giving them the best of me and my gifts to serve.

  9. Teresa February 24, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Hey Bonnie~

    I need to digest this post again when I haven’t been so heavily focused on copy. I appreciate the points you shared from Jeff Bollow. It’s interesting how sometimes we really just need to hear something framed a certain way, in order to get it!

    Resourceful site, even for non-actors.

    Thank you!

  10. sara February 24, 2014 at 9:26 pm

    Great perspective! Really good info. Branding is so tricky, but well worth the effort and investment.

  11. Bonnie Gillespie February 27, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Cathy — I agree! 🙂 I love that you’re focusing on the importance of brand from the very beginning, because that means you won’t CREATE tools that put you out in the world anything *but* on-brand. Hooray!

    Dana — Yes! A sea of conversations, indeed. Really listen to that unique voice of yours. It’s so important in the world. 😀

    Cheryl — Gosh, yes, that’s so true! It really *is* easier to reach the right people (or better yet, create a presence in the world that helps them find US, rather than us reaching OUT to them so much) when we get consistent in our branded materials. Niches are our friends, for sure! They help us develop that KLT factor (know, like, trust) and that allows us to branch out sooner, after all!

    Denise — Happy rebranding! 🙂 I cannot wait to see the new version of the best you! <3

    Teresa -- Thank you for stopping by, even as a non-actor! 😉 I'm so glad you find these posts of value and *yes* isn't that Jeff Bollow summary so delicious?

    Sara -- Totally worth it... and something that pays off for so long after doing it, so the long-term effects of having done the hard work are awesome!

    Thank you ALL for stopping by and sharing the love!


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