A lot of talk this week about developing a personal “brand” – that certain look and personality that sets you apart from other actors and leads you to be cast in certain stock roles. Almost all actors have a recognizable brand, especially if they are very big stars. If you go to see a film starring Tommy Lee Jones or George Clooney or Angelina Jolie or Drew Barrymore, you pretty much know what you’re getting before they ever appear on screen.
I think the term “brand” is getting confused with “niche,” however, and while I do think they are similar and that one affects the other I don’t think they are quite identical.
Niche has to do with the roles you are initially cast to fill based upon your age, height, weight, body type, facial features, hair, voice, etc. You can change your niche by changing your brand. One example: someone once asked Cary Grant how – given his dicey childhood and lack of formal education – he became the model of smooth sophistication. He reportedly said that he pretended to be the kind of person he wanted to be and after awhile he became that person. In other words, he changed his “brand.”
The goal of perfecting a personal brand, or changing a brand, is to become uncommon, to stand out from the scores – perhaps hundreds – of other actors being considered for a role.
Los Angeles acting coach Ben Hopkin has an interesting blog on branding and marketing that I recently came across and have now added to my Resources List on the right. I hope to study it thoroughly this weekend and perhaps pick up a tip or two on how to develop a better sense of the kind of person I project – or want to project – on screen.