In the weeks since coming home from VO Atlanta, I have been thinking about the one question I was asked the most: When is it a good time to brand?
It makes sense that this question was a popular one. During one of the panels I was on, someone asked those who were new to the business or attending the conference for the first time to raise their hands. I was shocked when about 80% of the crowd put up their hands.
In one way, it comes as no surprise– this is the first time we have gathered together in person in three years, so we expected to see a flurry of new faces. On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine that previous conferences were more like 20% newcomers, and 80% returning actors.
With so many new people in the industry, there’s more pressure than ever to curate a stand-out brand, and it seems that everyone is wondering when they should start.
I’ll tell you the same thing I told people in the hallway after my session on branding for a virtual world– the time to brand is now. The truth is that you never have a second chance to make a first impression, so it’s important to think about the brand you’re putting out to the world as early as possible.
If you’re unsure about how you want to present yourself or how to curate a personal brand, here are five key questions that you can ask yourself.
Questions for Branding
What is my special sauce? Ask yourself, “What is it about me or about my story that makes me incredibly recognizable out in the world?” When you figure out what makes you stand out from the crowd, you’ll know what needs to be at the heart and center of your brand.
Who is your target audience? It only benefits you to be aware of who your target audience and buyers are. Your brand is essentially a bridge that connects your ‘special sauce’ with your audience, so knowing how you can be of service to your audience means that you can use your brand to attract them.
How can you shine artistically? We work in a creative industry, which means that your brand can also become an artistic representation of you as a storyteller and communicator. It might seem like a tall order to have a brand that includes art, storytelling, communication, and sales– but it’s a necessity. Your brand will represent you in the voiceover world, so you’ve got to get organized and lean on your strengths.
Who are you? This important personal question is also an important branding question. People who are discovering your brand need to know who you are– or who you want them to think you are. Buyers need to know who they are talking to and that’s based on how you present yourself in your brand. It’s no small feat to create a verbal brand with a visual brand seamlessly layered on top, so knowing who you are and how you want to present yourself is key.
Do you have confidence? Confidence in general is a requirement for a self-starter. You have to believe in yourself, your talent, and eventually your brand. If you go through the steps in my book, Voiceover Achiever, you can learn how to become more confident about who you are and the brand you’re building, and ultimately, you’ll become more connected to yourself.
In addition to getting to know many of the new faces at VO Atlanta, I also enjoyed catching up with VO alumni. As I was getting in the elevator, I was approached by an actor whose brand I helped build when CSM was just starting. She told me something that stuck with me– the process of building her brand changed everything for her. She began to see herself the way that others saw her– awesome, talented, and unique. A switch flipped for her during the branding process, and her life took off in a new direction.
Creating a personal brand makes you do a lot of self-work. It can change your mindset and your perception of yourself in such a positive way. I love hearing how branding has impacted not only your voiceover career but also your life because doing this work can change your life.
So, my answer to the question will always be that the time to brand is now. As for when you should pay an expert to help you, it’s a question of timing. There are branding questions and elements of your brand that you can work on answering alone. Then, when you can afford it, it’s great to involve an objective person (whose specialty is branding) to help you find your brand spark.
— Celia Siegel