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Monday, June 28, 2010

What is "Branding" (Hint: it's not a dirty word!)

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When artists start getting wise to the “business” side of the industry, they are introduced to words that they’ve never used to describe facets of their work. One of the big buzz words being tossed around is “branding” - so I thought I would do a easy breakdown of what this terms means, and (more importantly) what it means to us.

Branding, or “the brand” is the company's message to its customers/clients. What are they trying to say? What is their position in the industry? What do they have to offer? For many companies, this includes their logo, the colors on their website, the slogans they use, and how they choose to position themselves. Think of one of your favorite products, and then think about all of the things that make you love it. What do you think/feel when you see their logo? How do you describe the product to your friends? This is their brand - and their job is to a) make sure it always stays positive and favorable, and b) to communicate this to their customers.

As an actor, your job is to figure out what it is that you have to offer that is unique and valuable, and then communicate that to the industry. Your brand is not just your talent, but also your point of view, your connections, your tenacity, your willingness to try anything. It includes the roles you choose to play, the clothing you wear to auditions, what wording you use on your website, how you choose to answer questions in interviews... all of these things reflect your brand. And like all other businesses, in order to be effective in the market your brand needs to be developed and honed before you take your message to your audiences.

Most actors have a “fingers crossed” approach to the business - they just show up and hope that they talent will speak louder than the other talents in the room (*fingers crossed!) But as Bonnie Gillespie says in her book, Self Management for Actors, ”We assume you're talented. That's why you're here. The ability to rise above the flakes is sometimes the TALENT that sets you apart. How you choose to rise above the flakes is your branding."

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Erin Cronican's career as a professional actor and career coach has spanned the last 25 years in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego. She has appeared in major feature films and on television, and has done national tours of plays and musicals. She has worked in the advertising & marketing departments of major corporations, film production companies, theater magazines, and non-profit acting organizations. To learn more, check out

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