When I was a teenager, I had a dream of becoming a movie star. I distinctly remember coming across actors like Robert DeNiro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Meryl Streep, and in the back of my mind, I always thought, “Wow they have such cool names!”
Most people don’t realize that I actually followed that dream and was an actor for a number of years—while building my business empire. I eventually realized it was not what I was seeking, but I did learn some really interesting things about branding while I was acting.
In fact, entrepreneurs and others that are into personal branding can learn a lot from actors. This is my secret weapon. This is where I really learned about branding. Let me tell you why.
If you are even remotely familiar with how casting for roles works—basically they bring in dozens, hundreds or even thousands of people in some cases to find the perfect person for a particular role. When the actors are auditioning, it can be weird because you see a bunch of people in the waiting room that look almost exactly like you.
As you can imagine, this is a branding nightmare for the actor. Every single person in that room is trying to figure out how they can stand out from the next guy that looks exactly like them.
After a while, you start to realize that while looks are important, it’s not the only thing. How you carry yourself, how you look, how you do interviews, etc all matters but at the end of the day, it is not necessarily the deciding factor.
The deciding factor comes down to a single question: Can you deliver? In the acting example, you need to be able to deliver the character for that particular audition. Sometimes the casting people know exactly what they are looking for, other times they have no idea and they are looking for that person with the magic spark to come in.
I want to focus on the latter example for a minute. The people that bring that magic spark are the people who really stand out forever and go on to do amazing things. The others might get a few jobs, but the one that can bring that magic spark will have work for a lifetime.
So anyways, after hundreds of auditions under my name Brian Evans, I started to realize that I was really blending in with all these other people. Even my name sounded like everyone else’s, and I didn’t like that.
Growing up, some of my friends would call me “BDE” standing for my initials, Brian D. Evans. It always stuck with me.
When I was in the midst of my acting adventures, I had a big eureka moment. I realized that I was actually self-sabotaging. I was subconsciously trying not to get noticed. I didn’t really want to be an actor, at least not in the industry as it existed then and exists today.
What I realized was that instead of using Brian D. Evans, I was going by Brian Evans to blend in with everyone else. It was a form of self-sabotage—on a minor level at least—so that I wouldn’t be successful.
That industry, like other industries, can create an energy where, “You have to do it at all costs, never give up!” I even had this mantra running through my head, “Don’t give up, ever, ever, ever!” But it wasn’t so much about giving up as it was that I just didn’t really want to do it and had psyched myself up about it so that I wouldn’t quit.
Luckily, I worked it out before I went down some kind of crazy downward spiral like many people do—not just in the acting business.
Own Who You Are
At the end of the day, I realized that this is who I am. I’m proud of my name, and I’m certainly going to use it. And, if it helps me stand out, then so be it!
I see a lot of people knowingly—or not– blending in with everyone else. They do it because that is what everyone else is doing. But, that doesn’t mean it’s right—or wrong.
My challenge to everyone is to think of things you do just because everyone else is doing them. Ask yourself if there is a way you can do things that are more unique to who you are? Even if the answer has you doing something that nobody else is doing, maybe that could help build a more original brand.
Brian is an Inc. 500 Entrepreneur, who built the 25th fastest growth marketing and advertising agency in America. Brian is an advisor to many startups and mentor to many entrepreneurs. He is a columnist at the world’s top publications. Brian is the Founder of Influencive and the Founder at BDE Ventures.