You’ve worked hard over the past couple years promoting your personal brand. Casting Directors, Agents, Managers, Directors, and you know your brand intimately. Your industry peers know you as being the hard-working, dependable professional that you are. And you’re on a steady path toward becoming a big name. But, as an artist, how do you rebrand yourself when your look or style shifts?
When a major business goes through a rebranding, it is usually a response to 2 reasons. Either 1) They’re on the brink of collapse and need a massive (and risky) restructuring just to survive or 2) They have saturated their market and now they are looking to expand to different audiences and build their overall brand.
With artists, we have a 3rd trigger for rebranding: Evolution. Involuntarily, our bodies change every 3-5 years, our interests expand to include new influences and outlooks, and our goals change depending on our phase in life. A company can be kept “young” forever; an artist is constantly reinventing oneself.
Sometimes the rebranding is subtle, like getting new headshots or refreshing your social media sites. Other times, it can be a massive shift that needs to be reintroduced to your network and fans. Even if your new vision makes sense to you, how can you persuade your audience to follow you down the rabbit hole and be excited along with you?
Before we talk specifics: know that you are the only person on the planet who understands your brand and values inside and out; others will offer advice (and sometimes it will be very good advice) but your gut reaction and personal goals should be steering the ship on this one. And even if you try something and quickly decide that it wasn’t the right way to go, then change it! You call the shots. Your instinct has gotten you where you are and you can trust that it will take you to the next level, too. So think, respond, and follow through.
Headshots / Promotional Shots
As with many things, the first step is admitting you have a problem. If your shots don’t look like you anymore …you’ve grown out your hair, you’ve lost your hair, you just had to buy a whole new wardrobe, all of your shots are black and white in a technicolor world… you need new shots.
Here’s the beauty: you can never have too many professional photos. These are your main connection with your audience and your peers. You’ll hand them out at interviews and auditions and to fans, plaster them all over your social media, and incorporate them into all of your branding products going out. In this case, more is more.
With the ever-increasing digital marketplace, photographers have their portfolios available for you on their websites and you can scout out recommendations in a matter of minutes. Things to look for:
Do you like the photographer’s overall style and feel it blends with your brand?
Do the artists in the shots look good? No visible touch-ups but no blemishes either?
A photographer with a clear pricing strategy on their site shows that they have experience and a strong understanding of their product and audience.
Once you pick a photographer, set a date, pay the deposit, and get yourself ready for the shoot. Hair style, wardrobe, setting, and vibe should all be carefully selected by you, your agent, and the photographer. If you don’t have an agent or you’re not sure what shots you need, ask your peers: “When you look at me and my brand, what do you think of?” and whittle them down to an honest answer. If your fellow artists look at you and think bookish librarian then you’re not going to do a boudoir photo shoot... and if you are looking to capture a professional role, you’re not going to wear leather. As always, trust your gut and consult your team.
Rebranding your website and social media can be a major pain. Know what you’re getting into in advance… If you don’t have design and computer skills, find a professional to help or join a class. (We offer Artist as Business to teach you branding and the tools to build a new resume, website, email signature, and to update social media and casting sites in 6 weeks.)
Think of your personal #website as your online version of yourself. Everything that goes into it should be a facet of your personality, including the wording in the bio, the color choices, the pictures, and how people use the site. Is it all video? Can people contact you or just your agent? How can people get in touch with you? Make sure you have easy links to all of your social media pages, where your audience may reach out to you. This is where you’ll connect, ask questions, post updates, and bring your brand to life.
Side note: Domain name. If you’re currently using JohnDoe.wix.tv/website then you desperately need a new domain name. It needs to be memorable after hearing it one time. Your name is ideal, as is something cutesy like SethActs.com or LizzyHasAWebsite.com. (both of which are available for purchase on GoDaddy)
Some examples of websites built by the actors during our Artist As Business course.
On your social media, go bold with your header and profile pics and cater them to your audience. Make sure your brand is consistent across all platforms. Colors, fonts, vibe/voice, etc. You want someone to see one social media page and immediately recognize you from your website or your other social media. This promotes trust and familiarity.
Think about which Social Media platforms you'll use. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter... they all have different strengths and promote you in different ways. Don't be on all of them just to be on all of them. Be ready to adjust your strategy for each one in order to market yourself effectively on each.
When branding on social media, you're automatically being seen within another company's brand. It's an uphill battle. So you’ve got a couple of options: 1) Your images are super relatable and show you as just another person hanging out on social media or 2) Your images are super brand-specific and show the awesome product that you can provide to your audience. Make sure your header images match the specifics of that site and that nothing is blurry. (We use a site called Canva to build custom graphics and it’s awesome)
Social Media is where you’ll be doing the majority of the interaction and connection with your audience so make sure you’re happy with what you’re showing them because they’re going to associate that with your personal brand.
Order a whole slew of business cards, postcards (to be used as thank you notes), guitar picks, buttons, pens, or whatever you associate with your new brand because you are going to meet people and leaving a little memento with them will help ensure they remember you. You love free stuff, they do too.
For anything printed, I recommend Canva, which offers a large library of customizable templates and a huge selection of shippable, high-quality, affordable products. Also, I mentioned guitar picks and you can buy personalized guitar picks (that are actually good quality) at InTuneGP.com.
Once you have your swag, have it with you at all times. This is not just for handing out at auditions... have it ready to go at the grocery store, gym, and for the chance encounter on the street. When someone is interested enough in you to talk for 10 minutes, they’re a good candidate for a business card.
Just like swag, you have the opportunity to hand a business to card to literally every person you ever email. Design an email signature to match your brand colors, fonts, vibe, and make sure you link to your website. Then put that into your email client and save it!
Resume / Personal Logo
You update your resume almost as often as you update your website but when was the last time you looked at the overall branding of your #resume? If the whole page is in 1 font, all black and white, with everything justified left, you may need to refresh your resume design.
Add some color: Take a color from your website and use it as a divider on your page between sections.
Add a logo: Before someone knows you well, they remember your cool glasses or your awesome shoes… they don’t remember you for your resume. So add a little splash of flair near the top so that they can say “Oh ya, the guy with the red swirl on his resume, I remember him!”
Show them what you want them to see: Don’t just put words on paper. Design your resume to draw the eye to where you want them to go. Put your most interesting jobs at the top as a conversation starter. Use bold, italics, and CAPS to bring emphasis to certain areas. Make your name is bigger than anything else on the page and use a font that matches your personal brand.
Put more time than you need to on your resume, and it is guaranteed to pay off.
This is tricky, isn’t it? Being your own best promoter while still being humble. Being true to you while still being professional.
You need 3 versions of your bio: micro, short, and full. Between your different sites, you’ll use all 3 versions. So this gives you some wiggle room in your approach.
You don’t have to get all of your information in your micro bio, just distill it down to the most important 140 characters. Leave the longer bios for really showing the goods.
Your bio can and should be different for each social media platform. What is your audience on that platform and how do you introduce your product to them?
In your long bio, write in 3rd person and use your name as soon as possible so people know who we’re talking about. This also allows you to write the whole thing yourself but imbue it with the sense that someone else is talking about you. Now, you can say anything you want and still be humble.
Most importantly, read and revise. Share it with peers and get feedback, read others’ bios, and revisit it many times until everything feels… right.
An ideal bio let’s me know who I’m reading about right away, gives me some personal insight, and lists an impressive list of accomplishments that makes me want to learn more.
As an artist, doing this process every 3-5 years can either seem like a burden or it can be an amazing reincarnation. In our industry, it’s almost expected of you to make this shift so fully embrace it for being the powerful business tool it is. You have the opportunity to grow your brand, while being fully supported by your fan base and network. Just don’t forget to include them. Reintroduce yourself after the transformation is complete. Send out post cards, promote your website, and ask your audience questions like “What do you guys think about my new page?” I guarantee you, it will all be worth it… this time, and the next time, and the next…
Jordan Woods-Robinson is an Actor and Head Honcho at Book From Tape Acting Studios in Orlando, FL. He challenges his actors to harness impulse as a tool, to trust their guts, to work on their feet, to break rules, and, overall, to make bold choices that make a lasting impression through tape. Email Jordan