What Is Branding & Why Should Filmmakers Care?


The Atlanta Film Society is excited to present the first edition of BRAND CAMP: an afternoon of branding instruction relevant to project presentation and personal pitching. To break down the importance of this two-part workshop, we sat down with Christine Walker, CEO & Founder of Verse Brand Strategy (BUILD YOUR BUSINESS BRAND STRATEGY instructor) and Kathy Berardi, digital marketing strategist, video producer and screenwriter extraordinaire (ELEVATE YOUR PERSONAL PITCH instructor).

Is 2017 the year you take your filmmaking career to the next level? You can attend BRAND CAMP, the PA Academy, and the Creative Conference all at once by helping us raise #30Kin30Days.

ATLFS: So what exactly is branding, anyway?

Christine: Branding tends to be this elusive thing. If you ask any brander or marketer, most likely they all will give you a similar, but varied, answer. To me, branding is the emotional experience that is consciously designed for a specific audience to consume in some way, shape, or form.

Jeff Bezos (Amazon CEO) said it perfectly when he stated: “Your brand is what other people say about you when you’re not in the room.”

Kathy: A brand is the story we aspire as individuals to create about ourselves; and as a public entity – it’s the tangible impression that others whose opinion, funds, commerce, and influence matter when considering each of our professional reputations.

ATLFS: Why do I need an individual brand as a filmmaker?

Christine: Filmmakers aren’t just designing a creative body of work. They are also businesses trying to establish themselves in the industry, and hopefully make money in the process. So, it’s important for them to think strategically about how they would make that happen. To me, branding is not just design and marketing. It’s also building a solid business foundation, so that everything else that follows is impactful for themselves and their following.

Branding allows a filmmaker to understand why they exist, where their body of work fits within the industry, why anyone should even care, all while staying true to themselves as creators. Branding is a crucial first step to creating a successful reputation.

Kathy: Branding to me as an individual filmmaker is the ONE LINE description I use to describe myself in networking and the headline of my LinkedIn profile. From a broader perspective – it’s also the larger story I work to formulate with every project I do, every course I teach and it becomes a carefully constructed narrative by which I want to be professionally defined and publicly recognized.

ATLFS: How does my individual brand affect the marketing I do for various projects?

Christine: Your individual brand affects your marketing in various ways, however it really depends on your goals. What is your intention with your filmmaking? Do you want to build your brand as an individual, or a production company, or both? Who exactly comes to see your films? Are they a specific type of personality, or group? Is your body of work similar, or is each project catered to a very specific audience?

Second, ask yourself: How do your audiences get information? How will they interact with your projects beforehand? Are there opportunities to partner with others, or to get exposure by way of other channels besides social media (e.g. events, festivals, etc.)?

Then, give yourself a reality check with these questions: What’s truly realistic and feasible for me? What will give me the most value and reach for the investment (in time or money)? There are a million ways to “skin a cat” so to speak, but it will really depend on what feels right with your brand set up, the type of audience you’re trying to reach, and what’s feasible for you.

Kathy: I’d consider your personal brand like this as a case study scenario: if you want to be known as “the” comedy webisode producer of the South, then proactively seek out every opportunity to reinforce that brand as possible. That involves turning down projects or affiliation to programming that’s not connected to your central brand and concentrating on core projects that align to your brand focus.

It’s great once your brand is ‘discovered’ by an audience that matters. But investing 1-2 hours a week in activities to heighten your brand visibility in a consistent and continuous fashion helps your brand to stay relevant and increase the audience who recognizes it.

ATLFS: How much time and money should I invest in my film brand?

Christine: Time and money will depend on what’s realistic for each filmmaker. Initially, you should be asking yourself what’s realistic for you. If your budget and your time are limited, there are a lot of online resources that will allow you to get up and running fast with minimal overhead costs.

If you are truly serious about creating an experience that is impactful, then I would consider hiring an expert. Hiring an expert will give you strategy, guidance, and facilitation that you wouldn’t otherwise get by trying it out on your own. This, of course, will be more of an investment both money and possibly time-wise. There may also be an opportunity to barter services, so it never hurts to ask.

Regardless of your time and money requirements, there are plenty of options to choose from. Your best bet is to at least start with a conversation with a branding professional. They’ll be able to answer some simple questions for you, and point you in the right direction to get started based on your needs. Best wishes and looking forward to seeing you at the workshop!

Kathy: I would recommend considering who/what and where you want to be career-wise in 5 years. Then identify 2-3 high profile individuals who you’d define as reaching that successful status within the industry or area of the business where you want to focus. Research their background – see what their work history is, past media interviews, and previous work that they did.

Then, chart your own year-by-year course on how you can get to where they are.  From a branding perspective, start thinking, talking, and investing in how you want to be perceived by the marketplace. The change in mindset and ability to see exactly how others who came before you completed the same goals you aspire to achieve will literally transform your internal confidence in your brand and impact your ability to manifest that into a reality. Your brand of who you want to be in the future must begin now.

You can invest your own time/efforts to making this happen as well as relying on the counsel and resources offered by entertainment industry mentors, professors, business coaches and branding experts. You may even consider any opportunities to be involved in the work or projects that your successful examples create or attend any events where they may be attending or presenting. You may just get a fan of your future career achievements!

Take this advice to the next level at Abernathy Arts Center Saturday, January 14th from 10AM—1:30PM. Space is limited, so reserve your seat, or save money when you purchase the All Class Pass!

Want what BRAND CAMP offers and more? #PickYourPerk and claim the Film Career Elevator from our #30Kin30Days Kickstarter campaign! The bundle include BRAND CAMP admission to both classes, PA Academy admission, and one (1) Film + Conference badge to the 2017 #ATLFF. It’s the perfect holiday gift for the aspiring filmmaker in your life!


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