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.
I’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!