Last night at dinner with some of my favorite writer friends, (Lou http://www.highhillpress.com/, Dianna http://diannagraveman.wordpress.com/ and Donna http://donnasbookpub.blogspot.com/) the concept of branding came up. Most writers don’t think of their writing as a product, but it may be beneficial for writers to think like marketers with a product to sell.
Branding is the practice of identifying products while differentiating them from others. According to Wikipedia (I know, I know, I don’t even let my students use it as a source, but I’m going to allow it to make my point here because the definition was clear and concise) a brand identifies a product, service or business. The word “branding” came from the practice of branding cattle so ranchers could identify their own livestock. Without the brands to identify them, the cattle would be indistinguishable from each other. No one would know which cow belonged to which rancher.
When we apply that idea to products in the marketplace, consumers wouldn’t be able to distinguish cars, soap or books from one another without brands (or titles). Early in the 20th century, soap came in big blocks, and when a customer wanted soap, a store clerk would cut off a piece. Once companies began to market their brand of soap to distinguish it from other soap, customers would ask for a particular brand, which increased sales.
“Brand is the personality that identifies a product, service or company (name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them) and how it relates to key constituencies: customers, staff, partners, investors etc.
“Some people distinguish the psychological aspect, brand associations like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, attitudes, and so on that become linked to the brand, of a brand from the experiential aspect.”
“Harry Potter,” “Stephanie Meyer” and “Stephen King”
What did you think when you read each of these names?
“Wizards,” “Twilight” and “horror?”
Those are the words I came up with. Successful marketers know how to brand their products so consumers/readers associate their product with certain words or feelings. If they can get us all to think the same thing, then the brand is strong with a clear identity.
When the actor Vincent Price was once asked if he was tired of being typecast as a villain (his “brand”), he said he wasn’t because it made him a very rich man.”
What do you think?