Monday, December 28, 2009

What Is Your Brand As a Writer/Author?

As writers, we know what genre we write but do you know your brand as a writer/author?

Recently, a friend and I had a rather lively discussion about this over drinks. Honestly, I hadn’t thought as much about what my brand was or even what a brand was, other than in general terms as applied to marketing.

So what is an author’s brand? The author's brand is his or her work. They’re known for writing certain types of books. Think Stephen King, Christine Feehan, Nora Roberts, Jayne Ann Krentz, or even Dan Brown. You know when you pick up one of their books exactly what you’re going to get. For the most part, we pick up books largely based on the authors’ brand.

Established authors do see themselves as a brand. They work to protect that brand and some even have trademarks attached to their names. Their brand represents a certain standard or identity readers recognize. In many ways every author is a brand, though they may not see it that way.

As one writing friend reminded me, when we were discussing this, branding is important as is the integrity of that brand. He cited how Nora Roberts has her JD Robb identity for certain stories she writes and that way she doesn't confuse her readers. Jayne Ann Krentz does the same, to a certain extent, with here Jayne Castle persona for her futuristic stories, Amanda Quick for her historicals.

Years ago, Disney realized that they had unused movie making resources (writers, producers, directors, studios, etc) and signed Danny DeVito, Bette Midler and others to multi-picture contracts (which relaunched their careers) producing such films as Ruthless People and Down and Out in Beverly Hills.

The Disney brand was so valuable, and these movies were not PG, they came up with a clever solution and distributed the movies under a new brand — Touchstone films.

From a marketing standpoint, having a brand is important. If someone says, Johnson & Johnson, Harlequin, Disney, Campbells, Revlon, Wilson, or Black & Decker you know exactly what the products are. So it’s not surprising that Publishers are actively cultivating the trend of authors as a brand. Publishers are the first to acknowledge that branding is becoming a more conscious marketing activity.

Lynne Brown, Dorling Kindersley's brand manager, made an interesting observation.

  • “In recent years in an ever more crowded market, the consumer has come more and more to rely on brand identity as an indicator for purchase. We believe this is now true in all industries and no less so within publishing… this will continue to be a strong ongoing trend…”

I have a brand as Sia McKye Over Coffee. I have a logo and a tag line. I play up my Celtic roots. Judi Fennell, author of In Over Her Head, has a brand, Fairy Tales with a Twist. Whether she writes about Mers or Genies, you know her books are going to fit into that brand. While she incorporates darker threads within her stories, she never loses sight of her brand. They’re light, fun, and humorous.

  • What are your thoughts on branding?
  • What’s your brand? How do you present you and your work?

Lazy G (TM) Freeze Brand

Touchstone Pictures (TM) Brand