Are you building your brand? Would-be published writers hear this from one expert after another. But the very definition of “brand” for writers has become confusing since many in the publishing industry misuse the term. Branding involves who you are as well as the methods and techniques you use to present yourself.
Traditional Definition of Brand
Going back to Merriam-Webster, the definition of “brand” has two prongs:
- a class of goods identified by name as the product of a single firm or manufacturer, and
- a characteristic or distinctive kind.
According to this definition, the writer is the “manufacturer” of the product. The reader has certain expectations, and the writer hopes to meet them. The second part of the definition involves genre. If you write humor, your reader expects to be amused by your writing. Fiction writers build a following by sticking to one genre. Non-fiction writers deliver useful information.
The Brand Graphic
As I planned a series of branding posts, I searched for a photo on branding. I found this one, which was not what I wanted for that project. However, it “called out to me” and gave me the inspiration for this post. Let’s look at the components of branding as presented in this graphic.
Identity: Readers want to know who you are. The best way to introduce yourself is with a writer bio. A bio should offer a succinct description, featuring characteristics that might interest readers. “Jane Doe is a writer, mother of five, wife of one, and lover of Jesus.” There’s a lot to identify with in that short bio.
Perception: If readers perceive you as a writer of fiction, it’s hard to get them to accept you as a nonfiction writer. For some, it’s even hard to get readers to accept a crossover to a different fiction genre. Often, a writer will preserve an existing brand by using a pseudonym when writing in a different genre.
Quality: It’s hard to define quality in writing. It goes beyond correct punctuation, usage, grammar, and style. For nonfiction, readers expect useful information presented in a logical, understandable manner. Fiction readers look for an engaging story with believable characters, an interesting plot, and forward movement.
Trust: Writers build trust with readers by consistently delivering what they’ve promoted. Again, it involves meeting expectations. Can your readers trust you to deliver what they want—consistently?
Loyalty: Building reader loyalty involves successfully combining all of the above factors so that readers keep coming back for more. Disappoint them once, and they’ll think twice about choosing your work again.
So, what about you? Do you struggle to build your brand? Is there a resource out there that has helped you understand and implement your branding? Share in the comments. (If you receive my weekly newsletter, you must click through to my website to comment. Just click on the article title at the top of the newsletter. Then, once on my site, scroll down to “Leave a reply.”
Image courtesy of [Stuart Miles] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.