You are more than your resume.
You are more than the summer intensive you were accepted to, your abbreviated Playbill credits, the show you’re dancing in, your conservatory class roster, or the company you currently dance for.
You are a performing artist with colorful life experiences, meaningful relationships, unshakeable aspirations, and your own individual talents, aesthetics, quirks, and personality.
You are (insert name here). And that is your brand.
As a dancer, your art is your business—and you are both artist and business manager (yes, even if you have agency representation). At first, the idea of branding might sound icky—like you’re selling yourself or putting on some kind of a performative mask. But cultivating your brand is not about covering up your true self. Rather, it’s about honing in on:
- What you value
- Who you’re serving
- Why that’s important (because it is!)
So, let’s start from the beginning…What exactly is branding?
In the corporate world, branding is the act of promoting a product or company by distinguishing it from its competitors. Think of…
- Signature logos like Starbucks or Apple
- Defining qualities like Twitter’s 280-character limit or Amazon’s same-day delivery guarantee
- Memorable missions like Bombas or Broadway Dance Center
- Storytelling geared toward a target audience like Dove’s “Real People” and Nike’s “Equality” campaigns
Personal branding is the marketing practice of actively shaping and sharing the unique individual that you are.
Why is this important? Well, it sets you apart from the crowd and primes you for opportunities you might not have even realized existed.
Defining—and communicating—your brand helps you connect with your authentic self (your values, strengths, and goals) and connect with people, projects, and a greater purpose.
When it comes to branding, we want to start from the core—articulating who you are and what you want. Let’s break it down.
1) Who are you?
Sit down, take out a physical piece of paper and a pen, and write a list of your strengths—yes, all of them. These can be personality traits, dancing skills, cool things you are interested in, quirky or unique characteristics, why your friends love you, why you are in love with beetle bugs…Whatever it is, put it all down.
Now, sit with this for a day or so. Come back again with fresh eyes and really see who you are on paper.
- What are the areas that light you up?
- What do you love?
- What are the types of pictures, comments, articles, hangout places, cookies, performances, companies, that interest you and motivate you?
2) What are your goals?
Branding can bring about more:
- Paid photoshoots
- Outside performing gigs
- Opportunities to assist master teachers and choreographers
- Capacity to bring ticket-buyers to performances
- Company viability
- Workshop and teaching opportunities
- Visibility for potential brand ambassadorships
- Lucrative opportunities such as modeling jobs and social media influencer contracts
Make a list of your goals and aspirations. Separate this list into three columns:
- 6-month goals
- 1-year goals
- 5-year goals
Don’t judge or second guess yourself. Write anything and everything that comes to mind…
You wish to start your own contemporary ballet company one day? Write it down.
You’ve always dreamt of dancing at the Met? Write it down.
You want to make enough money as a performer that you don’t have to work your side hustles? Write. It. Down.
*Here’s why it’s important to write down your goals. #neuroscience
3) Who is your audience?
Your audience is determined by your values + your goals. Think about who you’re serving and how exactly you can engage with that demographic. If your target audience is too broad (i.e., ‘dancers’ or ‘Los Angeles audiences’), you miss the opportunity to connect with individuals (be they ticket buyers, casting directors, fashion designers, college students, etc.) on a deeper and more personal level.
Once you’ve filtered down your target audience, determine what social media platforms you’re comfortable with – ones that make sense to you and to your audience…and, yes, your BRAND.
Branding platforms can include:
- Personal website
- Professional Facebook page
- Instagram account
- YouTube channel
- Optional: Pinterest can be a great tool for finding inspiration as you curate your content. Twitter is less relevant for dancers who need to display their visual performing art as the focus of their brand. However, it’s still a great platform to network and stay up-to-date on the latest in dance news. LinkedIn is a more ‘professional’ platform that can be a helpful networking tool for dance educators, competition judges, choreographers, and brand ambassadors.
Don’t forget that these platforms are actually an extension of your brand. Your brand is who you are every day – How you show up to take class, what you present in the audition room, the work you put in day-to-day at rehearsals, how you interact with both peers and pros, etc. So, you want to make sure your online presence aligns with who you are in daily life. For example, if you have a bright and bubbly personality, a black and white/moody Instagram might not suit you. Or, if your target audience is on the younger side but you’re posting photos or videos in stilettos and skimpy clothing, you might want to reevaluate your values, goals, and audience to see how they can work better together.
Now that you’ve got your foundation, here are some tips to get started in realizing your brand:
- Plan a professional photoshoot to get a lot of visual content.
- Edit a dance reel with footage you already have. (We love this idea of a vertical dance reel perfect for Instagram and TikTok).
- If you have an agent, bring them in the conversation to assess your strengths and opportunities in cultivating a strong online presence.
- Figure out your favorite aesthetics. Play with colors, fonts, design, language, hashtags, and more.
- Network. Remember that social media is a two-way street. Who you follow and how you engage on social media are also a reflection of your brand.
- Check out our creative shoot packages, or apply for our Social Media Power Program for personalized strategy, content planning, and business coaching to help you develop and optimize your brand.
And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned for more branding insight all month long.
Photo: Lily Gentile