Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Branding. It's not about Genre

The other night as I was about to fall asleep I was thinking about branding. Hey, I'm not married. There's not much else for me to think about in bed. (I know too edgy for CBA, but we're wild and crazy indies). Seriously, odd things pop into my brain right before I fall asleep.

I figured out what bothered me about the small press/indie/agent view of branding. They tend to tie the brand to product and not positioning. Let me explain a bit. What we hear about branding is that you
Photo by Rob and Stephanie Levy
need to produce similar products over and over again. Stick to one genre, write only fiction or only nonfiction, always do sweet or always do edgy, make your covers bear a similar theme. These are all marketing concerns and we can debate how valid each of them are, but they do not address the quintessential essence of branding in the Marketplace and that is Positioning.

Think about brand names. If you are my age (61 soon to be 62) no matter  how upscale Penny's have become, in your mind it was good, but not great clothes at a low price. A J.C. Penny suit or dress was more like Sears or Family Fashion or TJ Maxx. I know, most of my clothes when I was growing up came from Penny's. Compare that with Macy's or Neiman Marcus. Those brands say, "a fool and his money..." ooops sorry. They say "We've got good stuff but you are going to pay for it. Be sure to bring your gold card or don't even expect to breathe the air in here."

Neither of those are good or bad images, but they are definitely different. Playboy and GQ are both mens magazines, but quite different brands. The Same for Cosmopolitan and McCalls and Ms for Women's magazines.

Positioning then refers to image, but more specifically the image that is unique about your business. Not about your books specifically, but about your line of books. What makes your mystery novel different than what Agatha Christie or Lillian Jackson Braun wrote? How is your romance series different than Love Inspired or Harlequin___ romances?

It's like that terrible question you always had to answer when preparing a proposal for a publisher. How is your book different from what is already on the market? I hated the question. Now, I totally understand it. I'm working on revamping my brands to address that question. I've got some ideas, and I'll let you know later.

It's not about how many products you have or how different they are. It's what image people have of your brand regardless of the product you make. Mercedes Benz builds cars and trucks, but the image is alway quality, luxury and durability. Honda does the same and the image is economical, dependable.

I'm asking myself what is my uniqueness. And I'm building from there. What about you?


  1. My husband has a degree in marketing and what you say makes a whole lot of sense.

  2. I wanted to stop by to tell you I've been catching up on email and reading your posts. Great advice! I'm enjoying every single one and taking them to heart.

  3. Hi Terri,
    I stopped by here following a link from amazon. Just wanted to let you know (besides the fact that I enjoyed your post), when I tried to click on the image of the novel writing class, it wouldn't work for me, other than to pin it on Pinterest, which may be your intention, but then I tried to enter the web address into my address bar and it says 'page not found'/ link is broken. Just letting you know...thanks again:-)! Meleah