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Thursday, October 20, 2011

“Within Every Brand is a Product”

My crit group and I had a blast this week by coming up with some of the member’s brands who hadn’t as yet created one. It was a lot of fun but more than that, I think with the group of us working together we really nailed a few of them. I don’t think you can ask someone who’s only read one of your books (or even worse, only write one book yourself) and expect that person / yourself to know what your brand is.

Branding is much more complicated than just coming up with a catchy slogan. It’s your voice, your tone, what makes you unique in your writing, and the best thing is, it develops over time. It evolves and changes. Which is a good thing. I know that I do not write the same way or the same things that I wrote fifteen years ago when I started. At the time I had very little idea what I wanted to convey to my reader or even that I needed to convey something to the reader. If you’re just starting on your writing journey, my best advice to you is to write more books. One just doesn’t cut it. It’s your practice run. You learn and grow over the course of writing the book. You find a pattern and learn how to cope with being a writer in general (which is not easy by anyone’s standards.)

But if you’ve been writing for a while and you’re looking to query agents or even self publish. Before you do either, I recommend finding your brand. It gives you a much better understanding of who you are as a writer as well as where you want to go with your writing years down the road.  

The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines a brand as a "name, term, sign, symbol or design, or a combination of them intended to identify the goods and services of one seller or group of sellers and to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

It’s important to know the definition of something you’re trying to incorporate into your career. The reason why this is important is because of these last little words here: to differentiate them from those of other sellers.

Your brand will mark you and the products you’re selling as unique. Interesting. Individual. Think of the popular brands and their slogans:

Have It Your Way - Burger King

I’m Lovin’ It - McDonald’s

Just Do It – Nike

Melt’s in your Mouth, not in your hands – M&M’s

Spending time on your brand is as important as the time you take writing your book. There are several things to consider.

What message do you wish to convey to your reader?

When readers put your book down for the last time, what do you want them to remember about you and your book?

What is your target audience?

Here are a few tips for you: Identify your strengths. Whatever you’re good at is what you want to push. For example my strengths are definitely my action scenes. If your strengths are love scenes, or perhaps it’s dialogue, either of these should be considered during your process of creating a brand.

Look at more than one project as well. What is your genre? Are all your books regency? Or only two? Perhaps they’re all historical. These are things you’ll want to consider, because you don’t want to have a regency brand when you also write Victorian Steampunk as well. Look at the broader spectrum when identifying your brand.

Don’t try to be everything to everyone. Instead focus your energy on your target audience. A regency writer doesn’t want to waste time on a reader who’s never read a regency before. Narrow the camera lens and focus on a brand that calls out to the readers of YOUR genre.

And then when all is said and done, stick with your brand. That’s not saying that it can’t evolve because it can. But you can’t go from a historical writer to a contemporary all in one day. It doesn’t work that way. Take the time to build one platform first. Then once you’re on solid ground, cross over to the next world to conquer. Remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. And neither will your brand.

Now think of your favorite author(s) and try to nail down their brand for them. Let’s test to see how much you know about them. Give me an example of your favorite author(s) and what you think their brand is. You don’t have to use their exact brand and remember this is all in fun. Good luck!

Btw check out my website and see if you can distiquinsh my own brand here www.suziegrantauthor.com and while you’re there be sure to check out the half off sale for Wrong Kind of Paradise. Pick up the coupon code and download from Smashwords. You can also check out my free short story on Smashwords as well. Enjoy!



  1. Suzie, I'm so glad you blogged about this. It was so much fun the other day to play around with determining brands for various members. And you're right, without an idea of what your brand is, it's so easy to be all over the place. When you write enough that you learn your strengths and tendencies, then it is easy (or at least easier) to nail that main idea.

    Hmmm...favorite authors and their brands?

    I'd say Julia Quinn's would have to have something to do with witty dialogue.

    Mary Balogh, while I don't know what she thinks her brand is, would be something to do with lushness. Her sentences are lush, her plotlines are lush, her sensuality is lush.

    So there are two to start with. :)

  2. Ugg. I hate branding. I trying to come up with the concepts. Heck if I don't know what style I write, how can I even come up with a brand.

    I've avoided this for three years now. This summer, I redesigned my website and added a tagline: Explore the Illusionary Worlds of Romance

    It's not perfect and it doesn't 'feel' perfect. But it works for now.

    I think the branding I remember the most is the Bud weis er frogs and Louie.

  3. Catherine! Excellent choices and great observations. I love a lush writer. But you have to balance it to get it right. But when it is done right, it's beautiful.

    Beth, I'm not so bad at branding surpisingly. It has a lot to do with knowing what that entails. Remember you are the product, so brand you. A great book I can highly recommend on branding is Dollars and sense the definitive guide to self publishing success by Carolyn McCray, Amber Scott and Rachel Thompson.

    Excellent information there. Read the entire thing. It's brillaint. I think you'll nail it soon. Sounds like you're well on your way.

    Thanks for stopping in ladies!

  4. The idea of branding makes me break out in hives. For myself, that is. I love branding for others, though. We say a lot of "This ain't Burger King. You can't have it your way." at our house, lol. I mentioned the other day that one of my favorite author brands is Sarah McLean's: "I write books. There's smooching in them". Hilarious! Gives you a great idea about her writing style; sharp, witty, sly and funny. And that's what branding is all about, I guess. :)

  5. LOL Olivia! We say that here, especially to my teenage boys.

    I love Sarah McLean's slogan. That is adorable! And your slogan should match whatever type of style you write. So it sounds like it's a perfect match for her.

    Thanks for stopping in, you're next on our list, btw. We'll have you branded in no time LOL.

  6. Suzie,

    I love this blog. I'm sorry I didn't have time to stop by yesterday. I feel strongly that I know what my brand is, but I have yet to create a good tagline. I'll have to throw it out to the group and see what brilliant things y'all come up with for me. :)

    Familiar brands...
    Everything I'm thinking about has a visual symbol and feel, but I don't know if there is a slogan. Target - I love their quirky, modern feel. Old Navy - Retro, fun. Walmart - Yellow smiley face = family friendly, especially on the budget.