Sandra, my best friend, asked me:
"What is Branding?"
It's a new Hate Crime I told her:
roving bands of illiterate youth are snatching authors off the street and branding them!
Not really. But with our luck, it just might happen!
But it got me to thinking: do you know your brand? Do you have one? Do you want one?
What did the ghost of Samuel Clemens tell me the other day?
"Earn a character first if you can, and if you can’t, then assume one.”
—Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
You see, when readers hear JACK REACHER, they may not know who the author is, but they know what to expect --
So much so that when they walk into a bookstore, they ask, "Is the new JACK REACHER in?"
That's a brand.
The name of John D MacDonald was not nearly as famous as his character, TRAVIS MCGEE. And they knew what to expect when they picked up the latest Travis McGee novel.
I want readers to be that way when they see the name, VICTOR STANDISH or MEILORI'S or SAMUEL McCORD.
He wrote in a distinctively sardonic, conversational style. His writings and talks presented a down-home persona, a homespun narrator full of folk wisdom and tall tales.
He assumed the trappings of brand image: a white suit, a cigar, a distinctive mustache, tousled hair.
He got out on the lecture circuit, testing and honing his best stuff. He developed a knack for the “sound bites,”
the short, quotable epigram (such as, “Man is the only animal that blushes—or needs to.”)
In addition to his novels, he published many brief pieces:
speeches, articles, short stories. And most notably, he adopted a pseudonym: Mark Twain,
a wonderfully punchy, memorable, plausible name, imbued with a folksy, easily spoken resonance
(taken from a Mississippi riverboat call on sounding the depth of the river).
Clemens/Twain knew the secrets of personal branding.
Creating a brand involves, as he noted, both earning it and assuming it.
You don’t develop a brand without some active involvement in creating its form.
What is Your Personal Brand?
Your brand image is not how you see yourself,
but how others perceive you—quickly, clearly, positively.
What comes to mind when they think of you as a literary professional?
Prompt? Reliable? Humorous? Thoughtful? Broad-ranging? Laser-focused?
Do you deliver the goods in a friendly or fun or factual manner?
How do others describe you if they recommend you to another person?
So tell me. I'd be interested to know.
Want to see what parkour that Victor Standish uses looks like: