Getting into voice acting is hard enough without the complications of branding yourself appropriately, I recently completed a rebranding process, and I am happy to say that I have more clarity in my brand and identity than I ever have had before. Throughout the arduous process I have taken a big step from my "Brand = Selling Points" to my "Brand = Identity = Selling Points".
This did not come naturally.
When I first designed my website and started to brand myself as a voice actor, I found that I fell into a dangerous hole of branding myself as how I thought I should be. I used all the standard branding norms by identifying trends of other voice over sites to leverage on my own site, attempting to align my acting style with different colours to visually represent myself, associate myself with key words that I felt represented my voice qualities, etc.. This resulted in a website and social media presence and design that, in my opinion, looked quite good. I'd give it a B- in hindsight.
However despite me feeling that this was good work, it just never felt right to me. And that's a problem! If your website doesn't feel right to you, it means it isn't showcasing you accurately to your audience.
To address this feeling, I decided to go about the process of re-defining myself, but through the process I realized I didn't complete so much a redefinition of myself but instead built a definition of myself at a much greater clarity and depth.
But before explaining this in more detail, I think its important to understand why branding is even important for a voice actor. The most common perspective is that the function of branding is to convince more customers to use your services. But that is too simple. Instead, I feel, the function of branding is to showcase your unique value statement which in itself gets the customers that align with your services. Or simply in voice over:
The purpose of branding is to express a digestible version of your genuine self for external audiences.
Your brand is you! Or, at least, a representation of you.
This is of course a slight over simplification that may not be relevant for all voice artists, but for myself, a voice actor whose objective is not to 'put on a voice' but instead to capture a 'genuine verbal experience', it is the ultimate purpose of branding.
So how did I go about defining myself to a deeper depth?
Well I used a guide created by the visual artist Andy J. Pizza; a relatively simple process to put together in form, that involves a lot of introspection.
Simply, I built a variety of visual lists:
A list representing my identity.
A list representing my taste.
A list representing my historical creations.
A list representing my core experiences.
After throwing together these lists, I examined all the items contained within and pulled out themes across. I then placed these themes into a master list that represented the core elements that define me (and I mean truly define me at an almost human level). After doing so, I took this master list and structured it in a manner that made sense to me in the context of voice over. And the result is below:
The above style guide is a great brand identity tool that makes complete sense to me as an artist and likely will be nonsensical jumbles of words, symbols, and colours to people that aren't me. But as the individual who intends to use it to guide their creative identity, it is an extremely valuable compass! It acts as a check list on all my voice over endeavours, as now I can simply in reflection ask myself 'Did I capture X of my style guide?'
For a few examples of uses, off the top of my head I plan to use this tool for:
Business Interactions: Ensuring I am always honest, transparent, and non-self sacrificing across all interactions.
Online Presence Redesign: Changing the look and feel of my online mediums to give a better picture of who I am.
VO Self Direction: Ensuring that the voice over I deliver uniquely showcases who I am as an artist.
It is a tool that will influence all the interactions of my business and will help me stay on course across all my endeavours.
If you are an artist or entrepreneur that has even a tinge of a feeling that your brand does not accurately represent you, I highly recommend you go through a similar process by developing a style guide compass that truly defines and enshrines you. Let your brand flow from that!
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