Branding Made Simple For Voice Actors
By Rudy Gaskins
September 20, 2021
Branding is not as simple as the average entrepreneur would like to believe. After all, that’s why educated, experienced experts are hired to do it. The average entrepreneur often has no such training and can be the biggest hindrance to launching a successful brand strategy. By successful, I mean a strategy that achieves the desired marketing result. For the voice actor, that means achieving and maintaining gainful employment through business growth from quality clients on quality projects.
We’re going to look at four pillars of branding and one point of caution, but let’s begin with two simple definitions. “Branding” is the action(s) taken to promote a person, product, service, or idea with the purpose of influencing a target audience to take a specific action. The “brand” is the resulting opinion that forms in the mind of the target audience. Over time, this opinion becomes the brand’s reputation. The entrepreneur knows his aspirations for the brand, but it’s in the mind of your target audience (clients and potential clients) that the brand forms. Your brand is not your marketing presentation to create and market. It is the perception held by the audience. You can manage it, improve it, tear it down, resurrect it, etc., but what your audience believes is the brand, and knowing what your audience believes is the key to managing the brand.
1. Know Yourself and Your “Unique Selling Proposition”
Look as objectively and honestly as you can at what you have to offer as a talent. Seek input from trusted outsiders who will honest feedback (sometimes brutally) knowing that your career depends on it. No rebuttals. Just listen. Setting up this starting point is key. You have now taken the walk to the end of the diving board, and everything you say you are had better be coursing through your veins as you prepare to dive. Once your feet leave the board, there is no turning back. As in diving, it’s not a big splash you’re looking to create but creative precision.
2. Align Your Selling Proposition with the Buyer’s POV in Mind
Your unique selling proposition can evolve, so you needn’t feel as though you are stuck with it, or that you must try to make it serve all buyers. Being all things to all buyers DOES NOT WORK. A good example of poor branding is a voiceover website claiming to provide expertise in 10 different genres and presenting 10 different demo reels. If you enjoy watching the Olympic Games, you can appreciate that true dominance is pertains to a finite range. Sprinters don’t run marathons. Moving on, once you have your unique selling proposition, target the clients who will best resonate with it. Buyers are not all the same, so figure out how best to share your proposition through each buyer’s lens. Using a standard approach for all buyers will drastically limit your results.
3. Launch Your Strategy with Insight
Getting your branded materials out to the right buyers, in the right way, at the best time, is key. Consider any special circumstances that may exist for the buyer. research news about the buyer’s company. Is there a new CEO or Chief Marketing Officer? Is the company launching a new product, brand position, or cause marketing campaign? Is there a uniquely observable place for your proposition to shine? Do you have personal connections affiliated with the company? Remember, as a voice actor, you are making a mass-market appeal, but a personal one. Approach each individual contact with personal due diligence.
4. Manage Your Branding Through Feedback or the Lack Thereof.
Not receiving any feedback is a form of feedback. Either your information hasn’t been seen, or it was seen and didn’t produce your desired result. When making first contacts, you can assume a lack of feedback means your communication wasn’t seen. I suggest you resend it, as if for the first time – with fresh enthusiasm. I recommend against sending letters saying you are “resending.” It makes the recipient feel as though they didn’t do their job the first time and are thus being chastised. Why risk it? Ninety percent of the time the buyer never got to your first or second note before it was buried in their vast email inbox or junk mail. After multiple fresh attempts with no response, it’s time to take a good hard look at what may be lacking in your presentation and expectations. Make the necessary changes and try, try again. Feedback is your best friend. This is especially true if you cultivate an open attitude that allows you to smartly adjust to criticism rather than defensively protecting against it. Mind you, getting reliable feedback can be hard to do, but learning to embrace it can be even harder.
Finally, I want to encourage you not to play the “Fake It Until You Make It” game. This seemingly innocent yet naïve approach amounts to deception, plain and simple. Do you want to add deception to your unique selling proposition? You wouldn’t want to be duped by a person who was faking it, so don’t be that person. The client’s product is their baby. Take that simple fact to heart. Just because someone is willing to hire you doesn’t mean you’re the right person for the job. Integrity is all you have when it comes right down to it. Risk that at your own peril. Launch your brand when you are confident that you can fully deliver on your brand promise without fail. If you do that, your brand promise will be the idea held in the mind of the client. ♦♦♦
Rudy Gaskins is an Emmy Award-winning producer, brand strategist, and co-founder of the Society of Voice Arts and Sciences. He is also a media columnist for Backstage Magazine. As the founder of and Chief Creative Officer for Push Creative Advertising Rudy collaborated on brand strategy and creative development for the Olympic Games on NBC, Lexus, Food Network, American Express, Delta Airlines, Costco, ABC News, TV One, BET, Sony Music, Lifetime Television, and A+E Networks. Contact Rudy at firstname.lastname@example.org. ♦♦♦