I started thinking about it after this exchange in the comments on a blog post this summer. As our community grows, there's less and less to tell the average audience member what to expect when they see a show. Unless you've seen some of all of the players, read a review or hear about it from a friend, what would compel you to seek out a specific improv troupe?
I'm working on an actual workshop—part "how to," part hands-on application—for this sort of thing, so I figured I'd try it out here. Play along if you want. And tell me, if you feel like it, if any of this stuff is helpful—too simple? too complicated? too irrelevant? That sort of thing. So here we go.
BRAND PERSONALITY, IDENTITY AND IMAGE IN IMPROV
Or, to borrow a line from Joe Bill and the Annoyance: How you do what you do is who you are.
First, some quick definitions:
- To get to your brand personality, describe your troupe as if it's a person—and think of your relationship to your audience like a relationship between two people.
- Your brand identity is the way you present your troupe—your shows, your posters, your website, your logo. It's what you put out there—the experience you create.
- Your brand image is your audience's perception of you.
Question #1: What is your troupe's personality?
Think about the improv troupes you've seen that make the biggest impression—and how you'd describe them to a friend. What 3-5 words would you use to describe your group?
Choose descriptors that get at the essence of who you are as a troupe. Some examples and approaches:
- Comedic style: Playful. Whimsical. Mean-spirited. Intellectual. Aggressive.
- Relationship with the audience: Friendly. Approachable. Seductive. Dangerous.
- The players and their attitudes: Irreverent. Sexy. Adorable. Goofy. Ballsy. Cocky.
- The vibe of the shows: Fast & furious. Patient. Accessible. Innovative.
As a case study, I'll use the Annoyance, because they have one of the strongest personalities of any around. If I were guessing at their personality, I'd use these:
- subversive (which feels stronger than "irreverent")
- uncensored (more open than "inappropriate" or "dirty")
- fearless (beyond "powerful" and implies a certain recklessness)
- ballsy (because the masculine take on "brave" applies to our unladylike behavior)
- bodacious (a mix of bold and audacious—and there's that "bodacious ta-tas" line)
- mischievous (because there's a twist on "playful" that implies we're going to fuck with each other and the audience—and we actually promise each other that before shows)
- ???? (we're not a "women's issues" group, but we offer a unique point of view—unladylike ladies? ungirly girls?—and it'd be nice to incorporate that)
Coming up next:
Question #2: Does your identity match your personality?