Build Your Audience with Branding
You’ve probably witnessed several brands with loyal people, some call them evangelists, who share the brand with everyone they know. These die-hard followers will buy the products, go to the events, wait hours to buy a show ticket, and of course, share countless social media posts to their friends and family. You might not have thought about it, but filmmakers themselves have built themselves a “brand” name. Lucasfilms is a built brand now bringing millions of people and billions of dollars to new single film releases.
How did these brands build such strong communities and can you do the same? This process starts by understanding branding.
For filmmakers, branding is the process of forming memories, emotions, and a relationship around your brand in the audience’s brain. The goal is to build such a strong connection and belief that the audience takes on your brand identity as their own. They use your brand to help define who they are as a person. It sounds very powerful and it is!
Let’s take the brand Pixar as an example: Pixar works tirelessly to breathe life into their characters by pulling out their essence, exaggerating specific qualities and allowing the audience to experience them in a variety of scenarios. We believe in their characters, because we connect them with human attributes. The key here is connection.
A great example of building brand is the company Pixar. A character is made up of three aspects: its internal qualities, its external appearance, and how it relates to its surroundings. In the animated feature “Up”, Dug the dog becomes extraordinary with a simple exaggerated action, “Squirrel!” Dug’s character is appealing and authentic, but the exaggeration makes him memorable. Let your customers experience your film’s gifts, and help them understand what makes them distinct and special in the industry. Find your “Squirrel.”
Creating these deep connections is not easy and is something that takes time. However, there are strategies you can start implementing to turn people into brand audience advocates.
Brand Your Audience
One of the most powerful things you can do is to set your audience aside from the rest. Created a branded term form your audience. A term can be a great tool. Link it back to the core idea of your brand and promote the idea as they are a part of an exclusive “tribe.” Get people excited about being part of something bigger than themselves. I like to describe people who consume my content as filmmakerpreneurs! It’s a simple catchy way to spread your unique message.
Disconnect from Digital
I know this might be counterintuitive since I’m helping you build a brand online, but hear me out! It’s easy to keep any communication with your audience solely in digital formats like email or social media. However, digital communications lack one of the critical brand building elements: Oxytocin.
Oxytocin is a chemical released in the brain when we personally interact with each other. This is what helps spark emotions and memories — the exact thing we’re trying to create. We can’t continue without it!
These interactions could be as simple as creating a meet-up before or after a screening of your film, or picking up the phone and thanking a raving fan for watching your films. Gary Vaynerchuk has been doing this lately. He asks fans for their phone number on Twitter and calls them to say “hello” and “thank you.” Fans are floored. That’s branding.
Personalize Your Brand
Dale Carnegie famously said, “The sweetest sound in any language is one’s name.” Tailoring your brand experience around an individual consumer or audience member is what will start building those deep branding connections. Find ways to personalize everything you do, from announcements about a new project, to the messages on your website.
Make it a point to learn some of your biggest fan’s names, hobbies, and interests. Start tailoring your messages and interactions around these items. To some this might not seem scalable, but, with the power of data, social media and simply building knowledge gathering steps, it’s easier than you think.
Building an audience and branding is a long-term commitment that requires discipline and confidence in what your brand stands for. Brands that are true to their ideas and are successful in building that emotional connection are ones who enjoy the cult-like followers we as filmmakers try to achieve.
Is this a little intimidating? The good news is that you don’t have to get it right in one take! Branding is a process built on taking steps. What steps have you taken to build your audience and brand? I’d love for you to share them in the comments below!