Sunday, February 21, 2010

Guest Blogger:Alexandra Rubin Delves into Branding

Both my brothers became physicians and I, of course, wandered into a business where the undisciplined are welcome. -Carroll O'Connor

Hello, hello!

I wanted to start this guest blog entry off with a quote with the word welcome in it and I found this, which actually ended up being perfect. Perfect because I totally disagree!

Granted, Carroll O'Conner is from the "good ol' days" when you could hop off a bus in LA or NYC and off of shear talent and luck you could be a star. It is not that time anymore. My actor friends are exhausted from going to one open call after another and having nothing come from it because that equity actor with the great representation booked the gig. People are even trying to avoid becoming equity since the pickings are even slimmer than usual "because of the economy". And you just can't look at theatre as just an art anymore, kids. It's a business and you're the product.

This is something I knew abstractly in college but in the months since I've graduated I've truly come to realize what it means to have to sell yourself... not in the lady of the night way... yes, I know that joke was awful. I'm not a comedian.

In this blog, I'll share with you tips that I have picked up, share stories of how I failed abysmally or transcended into that ever illusive plane of success, and occasionally may tell a joke that you actually like.

The first piece of advice is to brand yourself. This means that you are creating an image that will become synonymous with you. When someone sees that logo or hears that quote, you come into their mind. This is, of course, obvious in things like running shoes or food. When you see that swoosh, you think Nike. When you hear "have it your way," you think Burger King. My branding device comes from a quote from Shakespeare's Julius Ceasar, "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff."

Now, after I decided that this would be my central branding device, I figured out how to use it. It started with my business cards. On one side, my card says "Ambition should be made of sterner stuff..." and on the back it reads "Alexandra H. Rubin (pn) 1. sterner stuff" and then has my information and a picture of one of my shows.

This branding immediately conveys determination, dedication, intelligence and strength. I am telling everyone that reads my card that I am sterner stuff by definition.

I carried this look and quote over to the signature in my email, my website, anything that had to do with my professional persona. I started this about a month ago and already I've had people quote my branding device back to me.

To find your personal brand identity ask yourself these questions:
What do I want to accomplish by branding my image?
(my answer: To present myself as a creative professional and intrigue and impress potential partners and employers.)
What do I want to convey to the people I am marketing myself to?
(my answer: strength, conviction, intelligence, dedication, determination, confidence)
How can I make my branding both verbal and visual?
(my answer: Use a strong quote that I can turn around to describe myself and an example of my work. I accomplished this by using a strong picture from one of the shows that I costume designed as the background for one side of my card.)

Most importantly, delve into yourself and really figure out what is amazing about who you are and how you can make people sit up and take notice of it. More to come soon but in the meantime...

Here are some other brands I dig:

Soul Pancake
This is a website by Rainn Wilson (Dwight on the office) in which you can discuss life's big questions with Rainn and the other members. What makes this so great is a) Soul Pancake is a totally unique name and b) he qualifies the name by subtitling it "Chew on Life's Big Questions". It is fun an witty which is exactly what the website is. He hasn't quite gotten the visual stuff down yet, it's all a mishmosh with Mike P. Mitchell's (admittedly awesome) artwork as background, but the name is pure genius.

HERE Arts Center
HERE Arts Center has created a hell of a brand for itself. Just by name it is instantly recognizable (also, Abbott and Costello would have a grand ol' time reviving "Who's on First" with its name). HERE is where you want to be. They continue their branding into their website with links like "See here" for what's currently playing and "Be here" for ticket purchases. They also have a great logo and font which they use on all their materials and is totally unique to them. Home run, HERE.

I'm With Coco Campaign
Now, this was really created for Conan O'Brien by fans who were upset about his forced early retirement from the Tonight Show, but it's brilliant. A simple line and a fantastic image that depicts Conan as a super hero/cartoon. It has humor and yet shows the strength of Conan and the passion of his fans.

And, a swing and a miss...

Charlie White
Okay, Charlie White has a serious point of view going with his photography. So why is his website so dull dull dull??? There's nothing interesting or unique about it until you finally find the light grey work "work" in the navigation bar and come across his stuff. With one word, he could have us hooked from the homepage but if I didn't already know what was there, I don't know that I'd venture around to find the goods.

Good night, all! Be brilliant, be happy!

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