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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Is Branding Painful?

All the buzz in the publishing world is about branding.Or perhaps I should say the buzz is to brand or not to brand?

The American Marketing Association Dictionary defines brand as "Name, term, design, symbol, or any other feature that identifies one seller's good or service as distinct from those of other sellers." That sounds good, right? So why are authors so reluctant to brand? Some say they feel 'pigeon holed' which Wikipedia defines as "narrowly categorizing or deferring." Which is hor--wait, that's not a bad thing.

The point is, branding allows the reader to know what to expect when they pick up the book. Not in plot or characterization, but in tone and theme. Once an author is branded and successful under that brand, it may become harder to break out with a different type of book. Don't believe me? Ask John Grisham how The Painted House sold compared to his 'lawyer' books. The only author I can think of who has successfully managed a writing career and escaped branding is Michael Crichton. How did he do this? I'm not sure other than fabulous writing and downright good stories. And the fact that he published his first novel in 1966 and kept publishing even after his death in 2008. That's quite a career.

But branding isn't a bad thing. Case and point:
I didn't even have to tell you who I was talking about. Everyone from 13 year old boys to 90 year old women know the icon that is James Bond. And how? By branding. You know when you sit down to watch a Bond film or read a Bond novel what you are going to get. And the most amazing part to me? Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, died in 1964. Yes,48 years ago. He wrote 12 novels and 2 collections of short stories which have been made into 23 movies (you do the math). It is safe to say that his legacy lives on today.

 Do you know this man?

Probably not. But I bet you know who this is.

And that, my friends, is branding at its best. Note: if you are interested in learning more about branding I found a great article online. Here's the link: http://jordanmccollum.com/2012/02/marketing-101-author-branding/

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