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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Branding: What it is and Why You Need it as a Voice Over Actor

When you think of branding, what comes to mind?  Maybe it’s the Nike Swoosh, or the Coca-Cola polar bears.  Both of these are highly recognized branding images, and both are part of each company’s overall marketing strategy.  Well, what’s YOUR marketing plan as a voice over actor? Does it include branding elements?  Because it should, and there’s a very important reason why.

But first, let’s talk a little bit about what branding means in the voice over industry.  Like any other field, you need to have recognizable elements that people can use to associate you with your work. Unfortunately, for VO actors, this isn’t as easy as creating a logo or catchy slogan.  Cues like these just won’t work in VO, so you’re going to have to be more deliberate in your branding strategy and focus solely on audio aspects and building a solid reputation.

One way to do this is to think about your brand as having two distinct parts.  One is the talent aspect, which focuses on your unique craft, the techniques you use, and your vocal range.  The other part of your brand encompasses who you are as a professional (i.e., your work ethic, experience, interpersonal skills, etc.). In terms of the talent portion of your brand, this should reflect your strengths as a performer and showcase your best work.  Be careful not to seem too sales-y, though.  Even though you are essentially selling yourself with your brand, you want to be make sure that it consists of what you can actually deliver consistently, and not just something you did one time that you think sounds great. 

The professional portion of your brand is a little trickier, as this is something that you’ll have to build over time and through experience.  Basically, the goal is for the listener to see your name, hear your voice, and think, “Oh I know this person. He/she is a true professional, always delivers on time, and is easy to work with.” Just a few years ago I decided, and as encouraged by clients, to promote myself as the Voice of Americana. Which has been working quite well for me. One quick trip to my website and one can see that I can substantiate that Americana claim and that slogan. If you cannot support your slogan, which supports your brand, don't use a slogan. There are already too many talent out there already using empty slogans.

So what’s next after you’ve got a demo that you feel sufficiently represents your brand?  Well, you get it out there.  Website, social media, sending it to producers…whatever it takes, once you’ve developed your brand, it’s time to make it a RECOGNIZABLE one that people will use to associate your name with your distinct sound. This is, of course, an ongoing process and I believe I'm extending my brand a little farther each day. That's a constant goal.

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