Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How Can You NOT Brand Yourself? (Podcast 3)

OR - http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/114899782

I was feeling particularly chatty online, after having been away for a couple weeks, and stopped off at A Writer's Bucket List on Facebook. A writer asked if anyone had a brand and why they cared to have one. In my skimming, I stopped in my tracks, fingers itching to answer. Branding. How can anyone NOT want to brand himself? My answer was this:

Branding is the manner in which people instantly recognize you (don't we all want that?) rather than us being lost in the frenzy of so many others. It's a way to be seen and heard without having to say "this is me, this is what I do, this is why I'm important." We should work hard to have a brand so that we are the ones that first come to mind when someone needs what we do...instead of our what our competition does. There are so many reasons for branding. Mine is FundsforWriters on one hand, The Shy Writer on the other, and ultimately author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series. The last one is least known of the three, and I'm working on that. I started with a fantastic cover around a strong story. That cover is part of my brand as its format is used for all the books in the series. But as a freelance writer, pick how you'd like your name remembered, then put it on everything you do in a certain font, with a tagline behind it. Say it, type it, forward it, etc. so that it's you. There are just too many writers out there not to have a brand.

We wear certain clothes, cut our hair a specific way, prefer particular make cars, eat some brand foods and not others. We're consistently identifying (branding) ourselves with our choices. How we write, who we are friends with, who we work for. There are so many sayings out there from sages going way back for centuries about how we are remembered by the company we keep or the character we develop. Yet when it comes to a writing brand, we get all deer-in-the-headlights, and because we aren't sure what that means or how to achieve it, we discount it. "Do we really need a brand?"

Let's look at it in reverse. If you do NOT have a brand, what happens to you?

Nobody sees you! Nobody knows who you are!

When do people remember you? When they put you with a familiar item. Clothing, smile, joke-telling, beauty, height, high-pitched laugh, prowess in an activity, kindness, brashness, and even relationship. When people think of you, what do they think of? If they cannot think of anything to make you stand out in their mind, they easily forget your existence.

So how in the world can you ever consider NOT having a brand?

Let's paint you with a broad, nobody brush for a moment.
  • You read everything and anything.
  • You eat everything and anything.
  • You don't like or hate anything.
  • You vote for anybody.
  • You avoid being good or bad, high or low, first or last.
  • You fight to remain anonymous.
Everybody has a brand of sorts. We already know what a brand means. It's a shortcut to be remembered. You already use branding in your everyday life. Why not use it in a manner that counts?


Kelly Robinson said...

I struggle with branding, though I think I'm enough of a weirdo to be memorable. My problem is that my main interests just do not converge well. It makes me feel like I have a split personality.

An editor I worked for once added a bio to my byline that she wrote herself, and it said my interests were "food and the macabre." I laughed when I saw that. I can't deny that I AM interested in those things, and have written about them, but what a silly-sounding combo. I guess I'm that creepy food writer ... or something. That creepy food writer with a book blog, who's working on a book about film? Auughhhh!

Hope Clark said...

I love "that creepy food writer." Love it! I can remember that. But sounds like you have to pick one aspect (or two like the above), and expound on them until your known for them. THEN you branch into your other personalities. You are not alone here. We all have way more interests than we can market, and if we try to tap them all, we aren't focused.

Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Hope, an excellent argument for all those of us "artistes" who feel we're selling out when using marketing terms. I think a way artists undercut themselves in this very capitalist society is to act as if money is evil and cannot matter. That's why we turn our noses up at "brand" and "marketing" sometimes, suddenly sheepish that we're part of a robber baron, Donald Trump culture and trying to spin our works and get another sucker born every minute to buy. The truth is, art matters, and one way we show how is matters is through sales and putting our money on something. I do it with everything else in my life, as you argue, selecting items for sale to help me identify myself to the world.

This conversation also reminds me of my very strong feelings about people who always want a free copy of others' art and are offended when there's a price attached.

I work hard to build my work, and the brand is part of its personality. It's the first impression, just like my voice, hair style, and whether I've bathed. Honestly! Do I walk into work without wearing a certain persona that reflects me? Would I put up a storefront without a name?

You got me fired up! :-)


Hope Clark said...

There you go! Brand isn't an option. It's a necessity. Otherwise, we write only for ourselves and keep it in our desk, because to expect someone to pay for it means you HAVE to brand.

Mahala Church said...

Spot on as usual, Hope. Branding is an important part of the blogging classes I teach at my Barefoot Writing Academy. Developing our own brand is an important exercise for all writers. It really makes us pause and think what we want the world to know when they read about us and our work. It makes us think about what we want our readers and clients to see, know, and learn about us and why that's important. My students find it very enlightening when creating their online persona and helps them clarify why they want a blog and how to organize it.

Hope Clark said...

It channels us as writers. That's great you're teaching them so early, Mahala.