If you’ve read our previous post on branding (here) you will already know the basics of getting noticed and selling your product. So here, we’re going a bit deeper into your story… and knowing your brand…
Ask yourself this… What exactly are you selling? Are you selling your skills as a performer? If so, what skills? Are you selling your talents as a host? Or perhaps you’re selling the classes you teach… Although it sounds basic, but these things are only half of the story. Why should a producer book you? Why should learners come to your classes? The answer is because they relate to your story. You.
Everyone these days is selling something. whether you are selling your sparkling personality in a job interview or getting people interested in craft products you have made, you are selling something. Being a performer or working in the entertainment industry is no different – and you need a strong story to stand out from the crowd. If you are a burlesque performer, your story might simply be that your acts are mostly a certain type. For instance, mine are mostly all victorian-styled, and at least based on historical figures, so this is my story – Lilly Laudanum, Making The Historical Hysterical. If any producer is looking for a historical-flavoured act/ a steam punk festival is looking for performers they mostly know where to come. Velma Von BonBon has also been really successful in creating a story for her ‘fictional’ Natalia Kalashnikov character – she is a Russian aerialist who is making a comeback – but likes the sauce a lot. Velma not only impresses us as she has a strong character and “selling point” but she has dedicated her life, basically, to training and widening her skillset to awesome levels, which now include unicycle riding. She is also a great host as Natalia. This is her story.
Look at top level entertainers – they all have a story. It’s mostly an exaggerated version of the real them, magnified often to characateur levels, but it sets them aside from their peers. The Spice Girls are an excellent example of this – their individual brands within the band were ‘sporty’, ‘scary’ etc… taking aspects of their personality and building on them. Their band brand was that of ‘fierce women’ ‘individuals’ and ‘girl power’.
So what is your story? It’s kind of like your bio (help on writing one here) but concentrated into one strong image or aspect. Have a delve into what you offer. Are most of your acts in one style? Is your hosting based on a character? Head over to that drawing board and get thinking.
Knowing Your Brand
This is knowing exactly what you offer producers. This doesn’t mean that every time you see a casting, you create an act to fit it (this is far from knowing your brand). This isn’t applying to everything, even if the call out is for a specific requirement. It’s how you brand yourself and who you will appeal to. It’s being an undiluted version of that brand so you appeal to a specific customer. For instance, my style of burlesque is comedy, and fairly grimy so I know I’m not selling anything high end. I wouldn’t appeal to those customers looking for a fine dining supper entertainment, however I would appeal to those who love a bawdy night out (kind of along the lines of the old music hall type humor). Be honest with yourself and write down words that describe you/your performance style. Get some friends to also write down words that describe you and compare notes. This will also be useful when writing a tag line or bio. It might come as a shock how you are seen by others but it might also help refine your brand.
Thinking further, how do you carry your image or logo to sell yourself? Does it match your target audience/producer/show? We all know the basics of using one image across social media and websites so your ‘brand’ is recognisable, but is it the right image? Does it match the image you portray on stage? If you are going high end, make sure all your branding is high end.
Simple. Be real. Sounds obvious, doesn’t it? But there are plenty of people across the entertainment industry who feel they have to have a “voice” that isn’t theirs. They invent a character that they use to live up to their own expectations and pretty soon that all crumbles down because it is not really them. We’ve seen many new performers feeling that they have to only talk about their hair and nails – and their fake champagne lifestyle – because that is what people “expect” to read. It isn’t. It is fake. I’ve worked in music journalism for many years and the stories that people want to read are always the ones where the artist speaks freely about things that are real to them. You don’t have to bare your soul online – that is different and will probably attract the wrong kind of interest. But actually being real and authentic creates a trust between you and anyone who books you/watches you/takes any interest in you whatsoever.
You don’t have to constantly wrack your brains to think of something glamorous (and unreal) to say. By all means if your life really is that glamorous, we definitely want to read about it! But don’t fall victim to calling anyone on facebook your “fans” (this will annoy a hell of a lot of your friends – and the rest will be worried you’ve fallen for your own hype). Remember, if you feel the constant pressure to live up to a glamorous performing life this is all self created. Just be real and you will come across as genuine.
Can I change My Brand?
Of course you can. A lot of performers start off with one ‘set’ and a few years later, as more skills are learned, as personal tastes change, then you may not feel your old acts are relevant to you. Also, as you get older or more established on the scene you may find yourself getting booked into different shows or appealing to different audiences. A brand review is always a good idea to ensure you are meeting your own branding criteria and you are still selling what you promise…