Friday, June 1, 2012

What's YOUR BRAND? Concept or Caricature? Cherry or Art?

An author is known by her Voice. But promo is often the tool that gets you recognized.
And branding is an interpretation of the artist's Voice.
Yet many authors think Branding is a slogan. It can be. But I submit to you that is not the main crux of the author's problem in defining their Brand.
The bigger challenges are that:
1. Every new product has a different packaging look.
2. Every new product can be different from the previous one in type (sub-genre) and in focus (ex: changing the voice, the pov, the length).
3. If the author is multi-pubbed by many publishers, the look will vary wildly.
4. The release timing does too.
5. Promotion for each product will most likely be different, of necessity because a person cannot advertise/promote in exactly the same places to the same critical mass or velocity.
So. What is an author to do to nail down the look, the verbiage, the trajectory that will propel them to a definition of a Brand?
First: Listen to others tell them what it is.
I have heard so many speak of Brand. Few in publishing have defined it well for me. The speakers have included editors, authors and agents. Everyone thinks they know.
Second: Ask themselves which products are the most successful and discern why.
This is no easy task. In fact, it requires a hard look at past works, what worked, why, who liked them, why and when.
Third: Sit down and doodle about what you world view is. This the Germans call your Weltanshauung. What is yours?
Mine? I believe that creative, caring sexual relations are a vital and necessary component of any fulfilling love affair.
To me, the unique words here are: creative, caring sexual relations plus vital, necessary, fulfilling and love.
I endeavor to show that graphically in any romance I write.
If I have done that for myself before I send it to my editor, then I figure I have satisfied myself.
So what is a brand? Your brand?
Branding is not only a feel, but a statement, an attitude and a concept.
Combing all that into one visual is a huge challenge. As one who worked in advertising and PR for decades, I know this from the very practical end, wherein a client would yearn for a Brand. And every business owner needs one. But could he put his finger on not only what he was, but what distinguished him from others in his industry?
Few could.
I had to dig deep into their business plan and model and, yes, into their psyche to get it defined for each one. The process to get their brand realized and then articulated was long and involved, requiring them to think often for the first time about their business in specific ways.  Some didn't think they could ever find the right words or look or marketing focus.  But eventually, we did.
How do I know?
Many of them are still in business and using the same look and slogans we originally created. Some use the exact same advertising we designed. Even though I have closed my PR business, I still get calls from them for different projects and I get referrals from them. Having owned my own business for 21 years, I can say I understand Branding.
But now to consider a Branding change for myself is another turn!
What is it?
This pix of the blonde was one that Nicole Austin ( chose for me when she designed the Sassy Seven website.
Now I wonder, do you like caricatures as expressions of authors or do you like something else, like my cherry as a substitute?
I think the cherry is me. It is bright. Upright. Perky. But not too smart that it hits you in the face. It says, Cerise, red, cherry, succulent, tasty. All those things I think my books are!
The blonde up there? She says, sophisticated. Okay. I will say that's me. So is my writing. I take my readers to real places like Paris and Mexico, London and Tuscany where I myself have been often. I do not write See Spot, run, but write for the woman who wants to think and wants a man with a brain as well as a bod. So, I'd say this blonde looks like she is assertive but not a b*$ch. Okay, me too!
But is she CERISE? More than the cherry?
Tell me. And talk to me about your definition of BRANDING, too!
One person who posts and give me food for thought gets to choose one book from my backlist:

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