Great marketing begins with a compelling, cohesive brand. It’s important and often elusive—that’s why there are countless consultancies dedicated entirely to the business of branding. But don’t be overwhelmed, there are basic concepts that any writer can grasp and put into play.
You Are A Brand–Already
Each of us has a personal brand—a personality, a visual look, core beliefs and values that we bring to the world. It defines who we are to others. While the concept of personal branding is relatively new, we must realize that we ARE a brand whether we actively shape it or not.
As an author, it is especially important to create a distinctive brand identity. It is the basic building block of creating your author platform. Your brand provides guardrails for your communications activities; shaping the look, content, tone and feel of EVERY communication, every touch point you have with your readers.
Each of us has a personal brand—a personality, a visual look, core beliefs and values that we bring to the world.
In matters of branding—effective branding—consistency counts.
Many people think a brand is only needed for companies with big budgets to build fully-loaded websites, presentations and promotions. But branding is essential to social media and blogging too—the core elements of author platform development.
Internet and social media execution not tethered to an overarching brand lacks meaning, cohesiveness, and the distinction necessary to attract an audience who connects deeply, emotionally with you and your work.
Your Brand Is Your Purpose
At the highest, crudest level, branding is defining your purpose. If you can’t clearly communicate your purpose, then how can you engage an audience?
Branding–Easy As 1-2-3-4When completing this exercise, just try to jot down what comes to mind immediately.
I’m going to take you through an exercise, the output of which will be your brand foundation—yes, the guardrails you’ll want in place to help you make communications decisions ahead.
I suggest you go through the process once as a “fast write”—i.e., don’t think too hard just write down what first comes to mind. Then come back to your work later to refine it.
1. Why does your brand exist?
Ask yourself “Why do we exist?” Is it to bring a smile to the face of a child? To challenge the status quo? To cause a specific action or change in belief? Address a need? What are the top 1 to 3 reasons you/your brand exists in this world. Be clear. Be concise. Clutter confuses.
2. Brand Character
What 3-5 adjectives describe your brand character or personality? Keep it simple. Use no more than five words. Three is focused, and preferred.
3. Brand Foundation
Several elements make up what we marketers call the “brand foundation.” It identifies your brand’s core essence, point of difference, values, and how your readers will feel and look (to others) when they engage with your brand. Here again, brevity is king. Use no more than three adjectives to answer each question below.
- What is the core essence of your brand? This is typically one word. For example, the essence of Harley-Davidson is Liberating, 3M = Innovative, Visa = Everywhere, and Jeep = Adventurous.
- How are you different from your direct competitors? How are you the same? These are critical questions. You need to stand out distinctively from others to bring unique value. What is it you offer that others do not offer or cannot replicate?
- What are the core values of your brand? Keep your list to no more than five words. Three is preferred.
- What is the tone or voice of your brand? Is it sincere? Snarky? List three key adjectives.
- How do you want your readers to feel and look when they interact with your brand? For example, Stride gum is a “badge” brand. Kids proudly carry a pack, ensuring their friends see it. It’s relatively expensive, stylish and has an irreverent personality, making chewers feel and look hip and sophisticated.
- What is the ultimate promise your brand makes to your readers? Are you a reliable friend? Trusted expert? Describe your reader promise in a few words.
4. Brand Story—Summary
Answer each question with one sentence. Together the statements summarize your brand story. Many of the answers borrow from the work above to bring the exercise full circle.
- Whom do you serve? This is your target audience. Be specific. Don’t just describe their age and income; describe their lifestyle, beliefs, desires and needs.
- How do you want to be referenced by your readers/audience? Are you their trusted friend, as above? Other?
- What do you do for your audience? This is the same as your promise to them coupled with the reasons why you exist.
- When you deliver on your promise, how does that make your audience feel? Pull your answers from your prior work.
- Who do you do it better than? List out your competitors here. Think broadly—i.e., beyond other authors to other means through which consumers can fill the need.
- How will your audience believe this is true? Will they believe your value through their own experiences with your brand? Through word of mouth? Referrals? Be specific. This will influence your marketing tactics.
Bring Your Brand To Life
In order for your brand to be effective, you have to use it—consistently. And, at first, that may mean referencing your work often. I like to create a one-pager—a simple summary of the brand elements that I keep in my office. It sits on my desk, always reminding me of who we are, who we serve, and what we are trying to do. Give it a try!
For a copy of your own One-Page Brand Plan™, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org