Thursday, August 17, 2006

Branding

The buzz word at this year's national conference seemed to be branding. I can't tell you how many times I heard someone say, "You have to brand yourself and your writing."

This isn't a foreign topic to me not by any stretch of the imagination. I'm in business. I've taken marketing courses. In fact, when I designed my business cards, website, and slogan, branding myself as a writer was exactly what I was considering. Sensuality and Spark. That's me :-)

Even before we left for Atlanta I was considering redoing my website. After we got back I knew I needed to bite the bullet. I've been stealing a few minutes here and there for the last few weeks - in between crisis control. I've been searching high and low, looking for pictures, backgrounds, colors, and fonts that helped sustain the overall feel I wanted. And I've been pretty pleased with what I've got so far. But I was beginning to wonder whether the hours I've spent searching the black hole of cyberspace for that perfect graphic could have been better spent on some other endeavor - like actual work since I'm designing while on the day job.

But today Sweet Pea uttered several choice words that convinced me the effort was not in vain. While holding the bright, golden colored box of Honey Nut Cheerios - that she talked my mother into buying at Wal-Mart - my precious five-year old daughter sang me the entire Honey Nut Cheerios jingle. Word for word. Now, I understand that the catch phrase is printed right on the side of the box, however, my Angel can not read. She had to have been reciting it from memory.

I didn't even know she'd seen the Honey Nut Cheerios commercial. Apparently, she had. At least once.

I figure if General Mills (or whoever makes that cereal - I'm not getting up out of my chair to find out) can have my five-year old singing their catchy little song and buzzing like a sugar-crazed bee with little exposure, then I should definitely be expending energy on branding myself as a writer. Apparently this stuff works.

So, if any of our loyal readers happen to be song writers, I'm looking for a catchy jingle I can start singing whenever I walk into a room. Until then, I'll just have to content myself with searching through thousands and thousands of photo sites trying to scrounge up that perfect photo to match the eye-popping background and beautiful (yet readable) font.

As a reader, does author branding influence your purchasing decisions? Are you even conscious about it? And writers, is branding yourself something you've given much consideration to?

Instigator - who really needs to know she's not the only one who can lose an hour surfing the net looking for that perfect picture.

12 comments:

Maven Linda Howard said...

I don't quite get the concept of branding. Rhonda Nelson and I were talking about it at the last HOD meeting and evidently the brand can be anything, any single thing that remains constant through all your books. Since I don't write the same thing every time -- I'd die of boredom if I did -- I couldn't see any continuity. Rhonda, however, said that my "brand" was my voice, my writing voice, which I take to mean it's however I do whatever it is I do. If that's true, if a brand can be a voice, then it follows that you don't have to LOOK for a brand, you just have to develop your own individual voice and let it color everything you write. Right? Or am I totally misunderstanding this branding thing?

Kathy said...

I agree with you Linda. I think voice, writing style, is the most important element to a writer's success. How many literary giants are remembered for a catchy phrase they once said (Mark Twain aside). It was and is their voice, that unique way of looking at life and people, that stands out and attracts attention.

Nowdays, fledgling writers hear so much about how competitive the market is and how hard it is to make your mark. Does a brand, a specific slogan (we know these things work in ads on TV) better a writer's chances of making sales in today's world? Or better yet, draw the attention of an editor or agent you might be tarketing?

I've been looking for pictures to put on my website, too, and the process has been eating up a lot of time. I've had to ask myself, what is it about me that needs to be expressed? How could I best promote this prevailing theme in my stories? And am I even ready for this? Tough, eye opening, questions making the 'AHA!' moment that much more profound. My search, it seemed, revealed theme, prevailing images I wanted everyone else to ponder. And...I discovered what it was I'd been trying to say all this time.

Now, I'll have to figure out how to create a total online package and make it work.
Kathy

Smarty Pants said...

I guess I should've gone to one of the branding sessions because I just don't get it. My tagline is "paranormal romance with a twist." How do I market that? I just don't understand. How can you put sarcasm on a promotional bookmark? The writers I tend to identify with a brand always seem over the top to me - either the super sexy writer that practically wears lingerie to a book signing or the queen of darkness paranormal writer looking pale and tragic all the time.

That's just not me. I'd feel like I was misleading my readership if I showed up to something in a costume. I don't want a black website with spooky sounds or red bleeding text just because I write paranormal stuff.

Maybe I've got this brand stuff all wrong.

SP

Angel said...

I tend to think of brand in terms of a concept that's in all your books, like whoever wrote that "Nerd" series.

The thing I want to promote about me and my writing is my personal voice and theme. Thus the development of my tag line and website (eventually) will all stem from this. I want readers to know that when I write a book, they are getting a certain feel from me. Though the storyline and subject matter may be different, all my books thus far seem to deal with women recognizing and growing into their own power-maybe the empowerment of women through whatever conflicts arise in the story.

And this is the exact reason why I keep putting off developing my individual website-I cringe at the idea of spending hours looking for the elements.

Angel

bamabelle said...

I agree that writing style is the most important factor, but the other stuff matters too. I have found authors that I love after checking out their website, and subsequently buying their book. The writing has to be there to keep me coming back, but an original marketing idea might be what caught my interest to begin with. By the way, my daughter knows that jingle too. I suppose they must be doing something right when our children are singing for their cereal lol.

Hugs, Zara

Playground Monitor said...

Jingles, slogans and theme songs are very important. To wit:

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a long, long trip...

Here’s the story of a lovely lady
Who was bringing up three very lovely girls...

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz...

Betcha can' eat just one.

You got the right one baby, uh huh!

Is it true blondes have more fun.


Too bad books can't have catchy jingles and slogans.

I'm still not sure I completely understand branding for authors, but I do know that voice is something that keeps me reading certain authors again and again.

PM -- who enjoyed that little stroll down memory lane

Anonymous said...

You know... I think that branding and BUZZ from yesterday might be part of the same thing. That thing that lets you walk into a book store and say "I want the new Nora book" or "Do you have the latest Stephen King book" and get it without even having to mention the title. I was reading that Nora's hardbacks don't even have a back cover blurb -- just her photo -- because her readers don't need to read a blurb; they just want her newest book.

Anonymous said...

I can see an author branding with symbolism.

Problem Child said...

Branding just sounds painful.

Don't frat rats do that to each other sometimes?

Playground Monitor said...

And that, folks, is why we call her the Problem Child. *g*

Playground Monitor said...

What's with the word verifications today? All mine have contained the letters most difficult to type -- x,z,q -- and in succession. But ya know, if you screw up enough times, it gives you something even a two-year-old can type. *snicker*

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