Branding is having your prospects perceive you as the only solution to their problem. You don’t need to actually be the "only;" your customers have to perceive that you are the only solution to their problem. In reality, your brand gets even stronger with more competitors.
Rob Frankle, author of Revenge of Brand X
I started thinking about branding immediately following the Miley Cyrus debacle at the Teen Choice awards. This warm and fuzzy Disney star dressed like a hooker and danced on a stripper’s pole during a performance – one that, ironically, fell before Cyrus gave Britney Spears an achievement award.
Cyrus is a teen and she is going to push the limits, but without some hard-lined parental guidance, her (somewhat) squeaky-clean image is going to tarnish fast. Cyrus has been the parental solution for clean entertainment for kids. Even after her previous racy photos and the photoshoot that was dangerously close to indecent with her father, Billy Ray, Cyrus has weathered the storms and still come out on top. However, after last night’s episode, that will change.
No matter where you are in your writing career, you MUST think about branding. While your characters battle it out on the pages of your novel, you must also be thinking of how your work reflects on your image – and how your image impacts your book sales.
If you haven’t already, you need to start thinking about your brand – or how readers and publishers perceive YOU, the writer, and YOUR WORK. The two are intimately tied together, and knowing how they fit together could save you a lot of Cyrus-like criticism in the future.
When readers think of your genre, you want your name to be the first on their must-read list. You don’t have to hire an expensive firm to build your brand. You can do it yourself on a shoestring budget. Here’s how:
Create a Message. What is your goal? What are your objectives? What readers do you want to connect with? What do you want fans to think of when they see your name or series? Define these and use them to create an all-encompassing phrase that defines your writing career and goals.
Create a Logo. Your logo can be your latest book cover, your promotional photograph or an insignia that you use on every piece of correspondence. You can have a graphic designer or your Web designer create one, or – better yet – have a contest on your Web site, inviting fans to submit their own. The winner gets the credit for their credentials and a mention on your Web site. Be sure to throw in some cool prizes as well, like autographed copies of your books, or bookplates.
Talk to People. Get to know your fans. Find out more about them so you know more about who is reading you and other authors in your genre. The more you connect personally, the better people will think of your brand (i.e. YOU).
Be consistent. Always use the same logo. Always use the same catch phrase. Always pitch the same message at meetings, during speeches and other events. Don’t stop after a few months just because you don’t think it is working. Results take time. Be patient and stick to the message. It WILL make a difference!
Branding expert Dan Schwabel has a terrific post on personal branding at Mashable. Be sure to check out Personal Branding 101: How to Discover and Create Your Brand.
What are you doing to create your own personal brand? Share your journey in the comments section.
Multiple copies of this post were saved and went live because my kitten is in a two-year old stage and I had to save fast before he hit my keyboard.0