Developing your brand can be a challenging and long journey, but don't worry! I am here to guide you through the do's and don'ts of filmmaker branding.
One thing to note is that while your branding efforts can be great, they won't get you far unless the content you create is of good quality!
If you are looking for tips to create a better product, check out our article on Filmmaking 101.
How to brand yourself (as a filmmaker) by Julian Wakefield
Have you ever thought of the business side of being a filmmaker? Now's the time to get the best tips from Julian.
What is branding?
Picking a niche
High-end vs. low-end
Choosing a clientele
Building a narrative
What not to do
How to stand out?
Summary & learnings
What you’ll learn
Showreel is just one piece of branding, branding is the whole experience.
Establish your goals, plan accordingly and reverse-engineer from there.
Don’t repeat what everybody else is doing.
Develop trust between you and your customers.
Be authentic and play to your strengths.
The 6 to-do's of filmmaker branding
1. DO Understand your own brand identity
Firstly, when it comes to making a brand of yourself, your identity is vital for everything you do.
Creating a personal brand is impossible without an identity to portray.
When finding your identity, you must be comfortable presenting yourself or your company in this way, as it should be the focus of everything you do.
Your identity could, for example, be the helpful filmmaker that's always up for teaching others their craft. Or it could be the activist filmmaker who wants to make a difference in the world.
You should choose the one you think fits you the best, and keep it in mind every time you communicate through your brand.
Research your competition and specialise your craft
If you are still unsure exactly what to go for, check out your competition or people you admire and see what they do.
Doing this kind of research can help figure out how you would like your brand portrayed, and just as importantly, how you don't want it to.
Another thing to do is to pursue a specific genre of filmmaking. Getting an audience and gaining popularity is a lot easier if you focus on a particular genre. Such a focus is better than you trying to be a person that does it all.
If you are great at creating documentaries, then consider sticking with that. It doesn't mean you only have to make documentary films. You can still create branded documentary-style videos and such.
2. DO engage your audience:
Understanding your audience helps you create better and more relevant content for your brand.
You can get to know them through talking to your clients or researching the audience types within your genre of filmmaking.
For example, let's say you're producing a feature film. In that case, consider posting clips, stills or bloopers or even BTS stories.
If you create deep-diving documentaries, it might be better for you to post content about the subject matter of your documentaries.
Relate to your audience and learn from them
Having an audience also poses a significant opportunity for you to create a relationship with them and learn from them. Engaging with your audience can benefit your brand.
Talking to your audience, engaging them in what you do, allows you to understand them and what they expect from you.
It also gives them an incentive to follow your work if you frequently engage with them. Your audience could ask you questions or provide feedback on your content.
When you understand your audience better, you also know how to communicate with them through your different channels.
3. DO create your Visual Style:
The visual style is an essential part of your brand. Furthermore, it is crucial to be consistent with it. When creating a website, choose a colour scheme that you want to represent yourself.
These colours would be beneficial to use throughout all of your visual representations of your brand to make it more distinctive from other brands. And hey - if your favourite colours are hot pink and chateau green, why not own it?
When making a social media post, keep the colour scheme in mind. You could even create a template of a layout that you could re-use throughout your posts.
If you are uncertain about which colours you want to represent you, fear not! You can learn more about the different colours and get some inspiration on which colour schemes to use here.
Create a logo to make your brand distinct
Another tip is to get a logo for your company. Your logo can work through all of your social media posts as well as your website.
Having a logo is another great way to distinguish your brand from other brands. You can use your logo on all social media platforms to portray a coherent brand identity.
If you do not have a large budget, don't be discouraged! There are plenty of competent logo creators on sites like Fiverr that you can hire for cheap.
4. DO live your brand:
Your brand must ooze through everything you do. Whenever you communicate through your brand, think about what implications it has for this action.
Living your brand is why you should be comfortable with the identity you created. If you can't live it, how can you sell it?
When you are at a shoot, dress as you want your brand to look. A cheap investment could be to get T-shirts printed with your company name or logo on them.
In this way, you become a walking marketing billboard for your company, and it could function as a work uniform for your company. It also makes you seem more legitimate to your clients.
Work for free to expand your portfolio
Another thing you could do is to do free work for a charity or a non-profit organisation.
Not only will you acquire goodwill, but you will also gain more content for you to showcase to potential clients. This content could be the one that secures your next job.
You will also get to help other people who work on low budgets, and it's always great to give back to people!
5. DO brand yourself online:
Social media is a fantastic tool for online branding, but you have to know how it works first. Think about the audience on the platform to which you are posting.
If you create a post on LinkedIn, think about the tone, as most people on LinkedIn are more corporate than the user base on Instagram.
Post high-quality content ONLY
Think about the quality of the content you post. If you want to appear as a professional filmmaker, consider leaving the poor quality pictures and everyday posts for your private profile.
What you should post is the quality content that you create. In this way, you can showcase your abilities through videos or pictures.
To keep your followers engaged, make sure you always go that extra mile with your content. Treat the content as the only touchpoint between you and a client because it might be the only post they'll see!
Create a website to showcase your work
Having a website is a good way for the visual representation of your brand. Remember, you fully control how you want to portray your company and how people interact with it.
You can also use a website to show off your portfolio of films. You can also show off recommendations and reviews of your work from previous clients. Furthermore, it's a fantastic way for people to find your company and your contact info.
It is crucial to have a website that doesn't look like it came to light when Netscape was still a thing! So consider using a site like Squarespace to create your great looking website.
However, if you are ready to shell out big money, you could always pay an actual web designer to create one!
6. DO diversify your content:
Posting the same content over and over again can get repetitive for your audience. One way to make your social media account better is to diversify your content. There are plenty of cool things you can post as a filmmaker.
Share your experience as a filmmaker
You can take inspiration from TikTok and post filmmaking tips and tricks that you have learned from your work. It does not have to be a big production posting short videos of tips and tricks is an easy way to make content.
It is also a great way to give back to the community and grow your audience. Posting tips and tricks is also a great way to expand your network because the audience will be aspiring filmmakers.
Share your personal journey through your content
You could also do storytelling in different ways, talking about personal stories from your life that has inspired you or stories on set at shoots.
Storytelling could also be sharing your experience of being a filmmaker. Sharing your experiences can increase the personal connection that your audience feels with you.
You can release these videos through YouTube if you create longer videos such as vlogs to share your experiences. It is a great way to show off your filmmaking craft in a more casual way while sharing your experiences. It also creates hype for the different projects you are on, as your audience will look forward to seeing the final product.
Collaborate with other creators
A great way to expose your brand to new audiences is to collaborate with other filmmakers or influencers. In that way, you can have a mutual relationship in which you introduce your audiences to each other and create content together.
Collaborating with a filmmaker that is more popular than you can strengthen your brand identity by association. Collaborations can also help to legitimise your work.
The 3 DONT'S of filmmaker branding
1. DON'T ignore your audience!
Having a dedicated audience is not an easy thing. Those that do are very lucky. The truth is we live in an attention economy right now, and if you have caught the attention of someone, then you better make sure you keep it.
That means that when your audience interacts with you online, don't forget to interact with them! Like their comments, post short replies and answer their questions. Having a good engagement is fantastic for your brand, and it gives them an incentive for your audience to keep checking in on your posts.
It also means that you shouldn’t just make a social media account to have one. If you know you will not use Twitter, then don't use it only to post stuff. If you never interact with the people that interact with you, it can make them feel unseen. However, people don't expect big brands to answer every message.
2. DON'T forget that your brand is at risk at all times!
It is crucial to understand that your brand is on the line at all times. Every time you perform as your brand, one terrible move could do a lot of damage. It is crucial to keep this in mind every time you make a social media post. If you post something that your audience does not like, they might unfollow you.
It's also a good rule of thumb to not get too political or religious, as they are polarising subjects that divide people. But if it fits your brand, then obviously go for it!
While it may seem contradictory to the previous tip it is important to note that you should avoid interacting with trolls and critics. However, if someone provides a well-founded critique of your content that helps you, then you could answer them.
But if someone deliberately posts critique to put you down or get a reaction from you, don't give in. It looks very unprofessional for a brand to have public fights with some random user online.
3. DON'T be a copycat!
While it can be helpful to get inspiration from other creators, don't do everything they do by the book. It is not interesting for your audience if you post the same online content as others. They want to see something new!
The same goes for the visual identity of your brand. If you look the same as everyone else and use the same colours, it gets hard to distinguish you from other brands. So try to do something different, but still, something that you think fits your brand! The same goes for your work. You should figure out the signature style that differentiates you.
Try to set yourself apart from others, and give clients a reason to hire you over somebody else!
So now that you are well-versed in the art of branding, it could be time to take the next step into the film business and start your own company! To help you we have created an article about starting your own production company!
What is a brand?
A brand can be a company, a person, a product or a service.
What is branding?
Branding is something you do that distinguishes you from someone else. It can be associations, symbols or an experience with your brand.
Why is branding important?
Branding allows you to build and add value to your brand, and hereby use it to position your brand in relation to other brands.
What is personal branding?
Personal branding is how you brand yourself as a person. It concerns how you want to present yourself to others, and how you want to be perceived.
What is branding strategy?
A branding strategy is a coordinated long-term plan used to achieve goals in terms of the development of a brand.
How to start branding?
Find your values. Find out your target audience. Decide on your tone. Find what sets you apart from other brands. Decide on the visual brand you want to show your audience.
Why is branding important to a business?
Your brand is what consumers remember, and it is what distinguishes your company/product from other companies/products.
Why personal branding is important?
Personal branding is a great way to present yourself to other people, and it can help build trust between you and your clients/employer.