So, they tell me that I need to, “develop my brand.” And I keep thinking, “what am I? Cornflakes?” It wasn’t that long ago that I associated branding with cattle ranches so I was understandably dismayed by the thought that I needed branding myself. I don’t even have a tattoo.
Eventually, after several glasses of wine and a long explanation, I realized that, though a fairly thought intensive, careful process, branding need not involve hot irons or tattoo needles. Unless you want it to.
Look at the following graphics:
None of them say a name, yet all are easily identifiable. The customer in you immediately knew not only the company but what they make or sell. It is also likely that you felt a frisson of reaction, an emotional response, no matter how mild, that either attracted or repelled you. The company, of course, is aiming for attraction. That is, after all, the whole point. That you will suffer what is known as “brand recognition” every time you see their logo. And it works.
What does this have to do with writing? Take a look at these book covers:
Each one bears a striking, though not exact, resemblance to the others. The reader immediately, if often subconsciously, recognizes the cover as familiar and is either attracted or repelled. Of course, we’re really hoping for attracted, or at least repelled in a good way. (They are murder mysteries, after all.) Why? Because brand recognition, as it does in every other commercial enterprise, drives sales.
First, decide on something you can live with for a long time. Colors, style choices, symbols, catch phrases, they all need to suit you for the long haul, because altering a brand requires a major influx of effort and, usually, cash. Besides, it confuses the reader, and nobody wants that.
Next, remember that the brand is for your public persona. Just because your brand is marked with pink and black plaid doesn’t mean you have to wear a tartan to bed. Just be sure that, for presentations, speaking engagements and book signings, your brand is adequately represented. What does it mean exactly? It means that everything should display your brand. Your clothes (color, style and accessories), your book covers (design, graphics and font), promotional materials (same), in short, everything connected with your art should carry your brand.
Also, you actually have at least two brands. Your personal brand determines your fashion choices, from hair to heels. Your art brand dictates the presentation of your work: book covers, business cards, posters, ads, etc. The two don’t need to be identical, but it doesn’t hurt for them to be connected.
So, I’m off to
shop work on my brand. On the personal front I’m thinking flowing maxi dresses in jewel tones and chunky art glass jewelry. Now, where did I put that branding iron…