Personal Branding in the Everyday
Note from Karen: This post was written by @charlotteproduces, a video producer and coach from London. Personal branding and the kind of branding that I do have overlaps, but there are some things that personal branding includes that I would not try to tease out for a business brand identity. Read on to learn more!
Personal Branding in the Everyday
How personal branding extends far beyond social media and how filmmakers use it to develop careers.
Personal branding is becoming more and more important in our everyday lives. The anti-social-media types will tell you it’s all because of Instagram, but that’s not true at all. In my line of work - filmmaking - we’ve all been thinking about personal branding for a long time, outside of our Instagram followers.
In Lo-to-No Budget Filmmaking, first published in 2004, Elliot Grove talks about finding a unique way to present yourself. In an industry where you spend a large amount of your time fighting for jobs, it pays to be memorable. He knew one lady who always wore outrageous earrings, another who used to send thank you cards for anything and everything (and used old film prints as the cards). These people stuck out in the mind thanks to their personal branding.
Personal branding comes in many forms, particularly in filmmaking. Not only does it range from earrings to thank you cards, it can also include trademarking your personality and only working on a specific genre of films. Both of these are hugely helpful for a filmmaker’s career. If I tell you I’m going to see a Tarantino film, then you have an immediate idea of what the film will be like. If I tell you I’m working with Tarantino then you all know it’ll probably be a tough few weeks for me! Extending your personal branding to yourself and your career path creates consistency. Everyone, especially people in film, wants safety, and there’s nothing safer than knowing exactly what you’re going to get from seeing a film or working with a person.
On film sets I’m known for smiling a lot. I’m also known for being over-the-top organised. It might sound like a dumb thing, but these are the two main things people comment on, that are written in my references and why I get cold calls from people that want to hire me for a shoot that’s starting tomorrow. People also know that I make female-led films about people fighting for their dreams and finding clarity, so when I go to pitch projects people already know the type of thing they’re going to get from me. Running a blog my branding focuses are completely different. I have a style sheet, a board of brand colours and fonts that mean visual consistency and a recognisable graphic on Pinterest. I recently redid my website, and it made me almost too happy seeing everything with coordinated fonts and colours. But it’s really just the surface of branding. I have a pretty high click through rate from my website to my Instagram, because we all want to get to know the person behind the web design. I did it with Karen! Even after exchanging emails and chatting personally with her, I went to her website and then her Instagram. Sure, my brand colours are all shades of purple and light pinks, but people want much more than that. And thanks to social media, we can easily give them that.
The rise of the micro-influencer took businesses by surprise. How could someone with less than 5000 followers on Instagram make a difference to my business? Actually, the lower the number of followers, the higher the engagement rate tends to be. With that small group of people they tend to be there because they like the person: their style, their tone, their content, on a much deeper level. When your audience is completely engaged and resonates with all of your content, you can guarantee a higher purchase rate (if you’re doing a sponsored post about an item of clothing they could buy, for example). Having a unique voice, while it might seem scary from the outside, can pay off massively. Broadcasting your own unique voice (with bonus points for doing it in a unique way) is like niching down a business. It’s picking the exact people you want to talk to, or market to, and only speaking to them. It can feel scary because everyone always want the wide audience, they feel like they’ll be missing out by only talking to a fraction of people. But that fraction will engage with your content so much more.
So be specific with the types of people you’re trying to find. I’m working with clients at the moment on finding their exact audience, so we can build content around that. I had a deeper look at my dream audience recently and decided to completely redo my content strategy. Within two hours of my new content getting published, a dream client sent me a message to say how much she adored my latest post. I took a risk changing my branding to reach my dream audience in the most direct way and it more than paid off. Personal branding for creatives comes in many different forms, and we have to take a bit of time to explore exactly who we are so we can distill those elements into a brand.
Charlotte Atkinson is a film and radio producer who helps filmmakers make their own projects, build audiences and get attention.