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The Branding Badge (Part 1)

July 1, 2013

“On my honor, I will try…”

Oh, Girl Scouts. With your camping trips, your carefully packaged cookies, the color coded uniforms with the badges sewed to the sash. I have twelve years’ worth of badges sewed to my own sashes and true to my Girl Scout upbringing, I am upholding my honor in completing my summer to-do list. Starting with #1: Branding.

I’m going to give myself a badge for the work I’ve been doing on actor branding. Some of our other Green Room bloggers have talked about finding their type, their branding experiences before and I’ve even dipped my toes into those murky waters before but now that I’m thinking about how I’m going to make work, it’s time to figure out exactly how I was presenting myself as a working actor. It’s involved a lot of research, self-exploration and a few games of Solitaire.

Branding…branding. What is branding? Before I could figure out how to brand myself, I had to learn more about this mysterious concept—Of course, everything I needed to know about what branding is, I had already learned in Girl Scouts years ago. Enjoy a box of Tagalongs and read on!

  • Would you like to buy some cookies? You’re thinking of little girls in uniform, knocking on your door to ask if you’d like to buy cookies. It’s an instant brand, in the way Coke-Cola is always red and all Apple products have the logo on them. For an actor, it’s about memory association. Whatever is memorable about you—big hair, a nasally laugh, that favorite magenta blouse, your talent at juggling while singing hymns—let them associate that with you and your name. Out of all the other people who come to your door to try and sell their products to you, only the Girl Scouts will be the ones peddling cookies. Be the Girl Scout. Sell your cookies. 
  • The Girl Scout mission: “Girl Scouting builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.” One simple, keyword-loaded sentence that explains why Girl Scouts is exactly what you want (and not the other troop, the rip-off example ‘Young Women Guides’). What’s your mission? All theatres have a mission statement to uphold—why shouldn’t actors? I am an actor setting out to accomplish my mission and I’m going to put it in writing, so everyone knows what I’m upholding myself to.
  • There’s More to Girl Scout Cookies Than What’s in the Box.” In a troop of Girl Scouts, while they may all be in uniform, these girls are all individuals who are individually talented. We’ve all had the same level of training, skills, dedication and learning experiences or else we wouldn’t be here together like this and yet, still be unique. In a cattle call full of college theatre dorks, I am probably the only Quidditch-playing, tarot-reading, sword-swinging dork in line. Don’t just go by the label on the box—if you bought that box of cookies from a Girl Scout, you know it’s going to be quality so why not let it surprise you? 
  • Have you seen my sash? I have quite a few of Girl Scouts sashes—one for Brownies, one for Juniors, one for Cadettes (I don’t think I ever got one when I was Senior—oops!) and they are covered with the badges, patches and pins celebrating all of my accomplishments. And why shouldn’t it? I’m proud of learning to pitch tents, how to sell cookies, canoe, start a fire just as I am of being cast in a show and getting my S.A.F.D. certifications. The sash is the equivalent of an actor’s headshot and resume—it should say who you are and what you do so when you show up, they know what you are selling. And when you sell more cookies than anyone else in your troop and win a giant coffee mug even though you are six and don’t drink coffee, it’s okay and good to tell people what a cool coffee mug you earned! Same applies for being cast, booking an agent, getting new headshots, whatever. Wear the sash and enjoy decorating it with all your merit badges.

 

So thanks to Girl Scouts, I think I have successfully wrapped my head around the concept of branding and all it should do for me as an actor. But I haven’t earned my branding badge yet—that’s part 2 and 3! I still have to do the work and put my theories to the test. Maybe in my next post, I’ll have an entirely new hypothesis on actor branding or maybe I’ll come to the same conclusions.

Until my Part 2 blog post: peace out, girl scouts!

*keep in mind, it’s been years since I was a Girl Scout and what I grew up with has been changed since then. I borrowed facts from the Girl Scouts website when needed but most of these are from my fond memories of Girl Scouting.

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