In the Chute

tatergateToday is the day. I’m going to work on building my brand.

My dad raised cattle. Branding holds quite a few memories for me. I remember sitting on the top of a fence with a cattle prod. If the cattle wouldn’t go into the chute, I would zap them on the butt. Seems like I had gate duty sometimes, too. Some kind of lever I would pull to shut the cow into the chute. It held their head in an opening. Then someone would brand them or tag them or vaccinate them… whatever it was we were doing to the poor things. The purpose of the chute was to hold them still so they couldn’t hurt themselves. I was a kid. I did what my dad told me to do. Plus, I liked being around the men. They swore and spit and laughed a lot. I could get dirty and climb around and there was an electricity to it all… well, no pun intended regarding that cattle prod, but seriously, it was yelling and banging and mooing and commotion. It was one of those many times on the farm requiring a group of people to complete a task. I liked being a part of the group and right in the middle of the action.

But of course, branding has a new meaning now. You know branding even if you don’t think you do. It’s the thing we see that immediately tells us what the product is. Think Coke’s lettering style. Pepsi’s blue can. Those big McDonald’s arches.

I think Janet Evonovich may have one of the more stand-out author branding techniques with her covers. Solid bold colors, big splashy lettering, numbers. You know her books when you see them.

cow-brandI’ve read an author’s brand is their promise to readers. It tells the reader what to expect from us. Who we are. I guess it has the exact same purpose and meaning as it did with cows. Who is this cow? Who does this cow belong to? And all with no hot iron or burning fur! Ouch. Glad about that.

Yet, I keep putting it off as though I’m afraid of getting in that chute! Maybe what’s stopping me are those memories of cattle.

Regardless, the one thing I am consistently told by other other writers is that I have a very specific writing voice. My work can be recognized by my style and voice. This reminds me of the first time I remember someone telling me I was pretty. I remember looking in the mirror to check… I couldn’t see it and didn’t know why. I also remember thinking they were just saying it to be nice. It was probably an aunt or my mom. They have to tell us we’re pretty, don’t they?

So, to create this brand, I have to identify exactly who I am. What do I want to say? What are the things I can promise about me and my writing. That’s harder to figure out than one would think! I keep looking in the mirror and I just can’t see it.

But, it’s my goal for today. Figuring out what my brand should be. How should my books look? If I had a logo, what would it be? What and how would I describe what you can expect from my books? Wish me luck!

17 thoughts on “In the Chute

  1. lucy adkins says:

    Loved the “chute” story, and the excitement of being part of the spitting, mooing action! I knew that, too, as a girl–moving cows, and doing all
    the sorts of things that needed to be done.
    Good luck with your brand–know it will be a good one!

  2. Gina, I asked each of my kids for an adjective or two to describe me–because I wanted my writing voice to really be me and they know me better than anyone–even the dark side. They were really helpful.

  3. Sue says:

    Hey, Gina. When I began reading this blog entry, I chuckled because a few years ago, our clinic was told that we needed to wear the same kind of uniforms and that our office was getting new signage and stationery. We were being “branded.” I was appalled. “I grew up in cattle country,” I said. “I know what branding means and no one is going to brand me!” Of course, I was rebelling against being “owned” by the “man.” I guess I was like the cattle, reluctant to enter the chute (and with good reason!)

  4. My brother used to have a cattle prod. No, we didn’t live on a farm. No, we weren’t around any cows. He bought it from some catalog. He liked to use it on me. I would tell my mom, but this was in the era of “fight your own battles” so I was on my own. That is, until he zapped her fanny with it as a joke. She wasn’t laughing. And finally the cattle prod disappeared. Good riddance.

    Good luck with the branding!

  5. I started giggling at the images in my mind of you holding a cattle prod waiting for an unruly and cantankerous cow, then with glee zapping their huge hineys. Mwahahahaha!

    And you have your own brand already. It’s hometown warmth and fuzziness… well, your blogs anyway. Your books? Dark and dangerous, but never dull.

  6. Definitely, good luck! Though I think you have a style all your own, and -to me at least – your own image.

    I’m doing pretty much the same thing and not finding it easy either. Maybe it’s just hard to see oneself?

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      It is very hard to see oneself! I can’t even begin to imagine a logo or slogan that would encapsulate what my voice is. But, I’ll be working on it!

    • ginabarlean@gmail.com says:

      Thanks, Char. I think you have a very good brand with your books. The color green, the similar font in the titles. I think I’d recognize your books.

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