Branding Pays by Karen Kang


Branding is a popular term in the business world right now, but I’m not sure how many filmmakers fully understand how branding relates to them. Karen Kang’s book, Branding Pays, provides simple explanation of what branding is and why it’s important. While it’s written primarily for individuals, all the information works for filmmakers and films.

Branding Pays explains Ms. Kang’s five step system to reinvent your personal brand. I won’t try to cover the entire system but would like to provide a few highlights that I think filmmakers can benefit from.

First, you need to have a clear strategy. “Posting on social media or going to more networking events without a clear strategy is an example of ‘hurry up and wait’. You’ll get out there faster, but if the world isn’t clear on what value your brand delivers, then the confusion you create will only serve to slow adoption of your brand.” I’ve seen a number of filmmakers who have failed in this area. They put up a facebook page and start begging for “likes”, but it’s not even clear what the movie is about.


Ms. Kang uses the example of cake and icing. “The cake represents your rational value – your expertise, strengths, functional value, and experience.” In the case of a movie, this might include your filmmaking background, any familiar faces involved in the project (name actors, director, writer), and any connection the movie might have with charities or other recognized organizations. “The icing is your emotional value – your personality, your smile, and your style. It’s how people connect with you emotionally.” This can be whether the movie is a drama, comedy, or dramedy.  Is there a touch of romance? Will it make the audience cry? What is it about it that will resonate with the audience?

It’s important to make sure you have both cake and icing. You want to show that you have a solid movie created by professionals who know what they’re doing, but you also want to make sure people connect on an emotional level as well. In the case of faith-based movies, it can mean that you share both the spiritual aspect as well as the entertainment value.

I think that the best thing about Branding Pays is that it is filled with questions. Ms. Kang doesn’t just bombard you with information, she provides you with questions that help you to connect the material to your own project. Then, in case you’re still not understanding, she provides you with plenty of colorful charts filled with familiar examples.

Finally, Branding Pays has an excellent chapter on social media. Ms. Kang explains the strengths of each type of media and how to use it to promote your unique brand.

Whatever the stage you’re in – preproduction, production, post production, or distribution – you can benefit from a branding evaluation to make sure that you’re presenting the image you want to present to the customers you want to attract. Branding Pays will help you to make that branding evaluation.


To learn more about Karen Kang’s five-step branding system, visit her website at

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