The Siryn’s Call: Making a Cosplay Brand, Part 1
Hello, and welcome to The Siryn’s Call! I’m SirynRae. I mostly fill my time with cosplay, but I also enjoy being loud and opinionated. Which is where this new column comes in handy. I have little musings from time to time and, now, one generous person has given me a platform. So, let’s all be costumed and loud together!
Get a Gimmick!
If you’ve noticed, the most popular/successful/well-known cosplayers all have a brand of some kind. However you categorize them, or better yet, however they categorize themselves, might be secondary to something else they’ve created. It’s an important aspect of cosplaying at a professional level and factors into how you market yourself to the world. This gimmick can be found all throughout a cosplayer’s presence. It’s represented in your signage (digital and physical banners, cards, etc), your photos, the costumes themselves, and what you do with them. When you’re making the step of going from hobbyist to professional cosplayer, this the image that you will be known for throughout the internet. I’m going to go through some examples and tips on how to curate your individuality throughout your brand.
Let’s Start with the Costumes
Is there something that connects all of your cosplays, perhaps? Do you stick to superheroes? Is anime your thing? Do you genderbend, mashup, pin-up, or crossplay? That’s important to know and could be the very foundation that your brand is built. In my case, I choose to be well-rounded. Each costume comes from a different source than the previous. I also try to create the costume to conform to my person. I have yet to do a 100% accurate-to-my-reference-material costume for the simple fact that my body wasn’t in mind when the character was designed. That’s my shtick.
Before we go any further, you do not have to use your cosplays as the sole component of your brand. If you like your box and want to stick to it, then by all means. If this limits you and you do not like it, then that’s perfectly fine too. As I said earlier, sometimes the cosplays you create can do your branding work for you.
Now to the Signage
This is important: It does not matter if you are not popular (yet), it is always recommended to have business cards. College students are advised to have business cards to represent themselves under any circumstance. You cannot grow your brand if people do not see it. The easiest way to spread your brand is handing someone a card every time they take a picture of you at an event. Some events have you exposed to thousands of people who are all potential followers. Why not take advantage of that?
Designing the Card
First thing is first: have yourself pictured on the card somewhere. You are (supposedly) a cosplayer. Your image is an integral part of what you’re marketing and that should be featured heavily on your card. Different cosplayers tackle this in a multitude of ways. You can feature a layout of your favorite photos, showing off your range and diversity. You can use only one photo, one of your best, that is simple and clean. This picture shouldn’t have a lot of effects that obscure your face or costume. Using your own face to market is also an easy way to set yourself apart considering you are the only one with that face.
The rest of the card (preferably the back side) should concisely list what you do and where you can be found. Identify yourself first. Are you only a cosplayer or are you a performer, children’s entertainer, music artist, digital artist, the list goes on? List these things. Tell this lucky cardholder who you are. Then list your handles on every social media presence you have. This task is made easier if you have the same tag for every site. This can be done by simply using icons instead of text.
Lastly, font is important. It should be legible and representative of you. A logical theme should run through what you’re presenting and what you’re saying. One should probably avoid using a bold, all caps, blocky font if you’re designing Victorian ballgowns. Keeping your color consistent with your theme is equally important. At some point, you’ve probably heard how colors affect advertising. It’s been said that the McDonald’s arches are red and yellow because those two colors tend to cause both a hunger feeling and the urge to spend money, for example. It’s a common psychological connection for colors to create a certain image and evoke emotions. However you choose your color and font, the most important thing to keep in mind while doing so is whether or not it appeals to you. If you don’t like it, it will be much more difficult to change later than it will at the time of conception.
Let’s talk digital first, because you will get way more use out of this one. This is often a new follower’s first impression of you, which is why it is common for a cover photo to feature multiple pictures of your cosplays. You do not have to do this. It requires, at the very least, a basic understanding of graphic design, which not everyone has. Visually speaking, the pictures should have some uniformity to them (all the same size, shape, showing only head shots or full body images). When you’re compositing your images, check the various dimensions for each individual website, that way you don’t have any stretching or warping.
Should you choose to have only one photo, it’s best to pick a landscape one. You’ll still want to add your handles and cosplay name, but double check your measurements before posting so nothing important (text or face) is cut off by cropping.
Physical banners are just as important to have, but not as high of a priority. If you aren’t going to be doing events, then you don’t need one at all. For many of us cosplayers, though, they are a necessity. Now it doesn’t matter if you are Team Vertical banner or Team Horizontal; both are useful and can be beneficial to your needs. Their whole purpose is to introduce you to people who are literally hundreds of feet away from you. So make them capture the eyes of everyone. Again, use your best photo(s), your logo and/or font, and keep it consistent with your other graphics. I have both, a vertical and a horizontal, and they are completely different from each other as well as from my digital banners, but all of them have the same branding across the board.