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We ran our first workshop, Branding For Freelancers on 20th February which was a whistle stop tour of theory with practical worksheets so that our theatre makers could make a solid start in thinking about their branding.

We’ll be covering the topics that came up in the workshop in our blogs in the next month, and if you have any questions, comment below or tweet us and we’ll see how we can help.

Keep reading for a short summary of the workshop to give you a reminder of the things you need to be thinking about all the time when working on your theatre group.

Emily Gatehouse, a new producer, attended:

“The course began on a Saturday afternoon with five theatre industry workers (and one via Skype), of varying age, experience and ability cuddled around a dining room table in Camilla’s cozy house in Stratford. With strict instruction from Camilla we were not to talk to the others about the company or brand we were representing….”

This was for a quick litmus test of participants’ brands. You can do this for yourself. Find a friend, give them a sheet of paper and now pretend they’re a reporter. You get one shot to tell them everything about your brand. Oh and you have to do it in 60 seconds – because chances are if you are talking to a reporter, you’ll have even less than this to make an impression.

Then ask your friend to write down what it is you do in brief, but then ask them to write a list of impressions. What colours came to mind. What values, moods and feelings? If your brand was an animal what would it be? What season? What emotion?

While they’re doing this, do it yourself. Now compare. Circle the ones which are the same and you’ve got your score that gives you an indication of how strong your brand is. This list of impressions that you want people to have HAS to come across in all your marketing on first contact (also called touchpoints).

Don’t worry. If you’re at the start of your journey, this is going to be hard as Emily found out when she had 60 seconds to explain Lynn Ruth’s brand:

“Shouting and spluttering over each other, trying to get everything we could out of our mouths and on to the journalist’s paper, we then wrote down what we believed our brand represented and compared to what the person wrote. Unfortunately not many matched. As a result of this exercise we each realized that none of us had an established idea of what we wanted the brand to represent. We all had a mixture of words, feelings and emotions about our brand that were jumbled up inside.”

This wordlist is a great starting point for developing a logo because a logo is the marque you use that represents how you want others to think and feel about you. It’s about the emotional connection. A quick tour of Colour Theory looked at the psychology of colour in branding and the different ways you can use colour to make the right associations in people’s head with your brand – sadly it’s not as simple as green = calm.

We discussed stakeholders (people who have a stake in your company for whatever reason – and it’s wider than you may at first think) before undergoing some research into what makes an effective tagline, breaking them down into components and drafting various facets of our brands into that way of thinking. For example, Fiona Jane Weston had some interesting Positioning to do as her work is about strong females – but is not anti-man.

Sign up to The Inside Track newsletter if you want more information on creating your own taglines.

We then spoke about positioning. Where among other theatre companies does your work sit? Are you a crowd pleaser that draws groups of girlfriends or a historical work that stimulates the intellectuals? How successful are you in drawing in these audiences – and does your price match your worth?

What you charge is important in branding because it is a representation of how much money you’ll make for the venue – if you can justify it. Think of the sports stars which earn millions – they only earn that because they’ll earn the managers a profit. Value though doesn’t just mean price – it means worth – how much are you worth to a venue? Your worth can be wrapped up in the style of work you produce – if you’re the only people who do Bangladeshi circus performances then your worth will be higher in an area which has lots of Bangladeshi residents, or to a programmer that wants to add more variety to a drama-focussed season.

“What stuck with me most were her comments on value. This is not necessarily asking for a price, but suggesting that you understand your brand’s worth. You firstly must prove your value, but you also must never underestimate your value, which happens time and time again within the arts.”

We spoke at length about identifying what your brand’s value is and you can read more about this here.

We identified our Unique Selling Points which not only helped us define our brand’s worth but also showed us how we differed from competitors – vital to plot your career course, but also to highlight in conversations that you’re the only people who can deliver XYZ in a particular way or to a certain standard.

Testimonials are the hidden currency in theatre – the words of others mean more to us than the words we use about ourselves and writing testimonials for others not only garners good will but allows us to potentially be featured in their marketing (which is free marketing for you) but also to write it in the style of your brand – in a way that reflects your brand values.

We finished the workshop spending time with Buyer Personas – this is identifying fictional people who represent your different target markets. The benefit of this excersize is that you stop broadcasting your message in a general manner because you are writing as though you are speaking to one person. You start opening conversations that are aimed at particular segments. A busy working mother is going to be using twitter and reading blogs at a different time to a student. They’re going to be interested in different things that you do as well as wanting to be spoken to with a different voice. We’ll talk more about this later, sign up to find out when.

“It was all such an eye-opener, because I suddenly realized that these branding concepts constantly surround us, and we have each been susceptible to succumbing to them. So why is it when we create a brand or a company, we seem to forget what it’s like to be a stakeholder ourselves?”

We’ll be running more courses in a range of topics, so sign up to The Inside Track or Just The Updates to get your place.

Brainstorming touch points

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