Posts Tagged focus

Branding is Tricky

During a recent writer’s conference I attended a branding workshop. This subject is a vague misty spot around which I struggle to wrap my mind. Figuring that others might also experience the ambiguous cloud, or perhaps could offer helpful insight, here is today’s topic.
The instructor offered two exercises which I found useful.

The first task compared two recognizable brands of ice cream about which participants ascribed values, attitudes and themes. Collectively we summarized the sort of person who would purchase each and why they appealed to different groups.
Hmm. That made sense.
Marching along in step up to this point, I gleefully mused: I’m getting it.
Then there was the ten minute time period of which I have no recollection whatsoever. I’m sure the secrets to branding, world peace and the origins of the universe were expounded upon, and I missed it because I got distracted writing down an idea for a story. Sorry…it happens. When I climbed out of reverie the class had moved along to a second task.
Keeping in mind Kristen Lamb’s suggestion that we (as multiple-hat-wearing people) are our brand, the next part was rather fun: answer questions by exploring who would buy “me” as a brand. The questions were basic, the same sort of thing you ask a potential partner on a first date when you’re at the sorting stage. The basics like what’s your favorite food and drink choices. What kinds of music do you enjoy? If you could spend a day in any kind of weather, what would it be? The regular questions about hobbies, sports and positions…okay that last one, maybe not on the first date.

Ultimately what you’re trying to decide is: am I going on a second date with this guy or sprinting for the door? Everyone has a checklist. I start with the basics.1. Does he have teeth?
(yes is what we’re going for here) And are they his own? (bonus!)

2. Has he ever been married or in a serious relationship?
(If no, why not? warning! warning!)

3. Is he open to trying new things?
(sushi, bungee jumping, owl&plank – establish his limits now)

4. How high does the televised sports monitor beep?
(this determines future availability)

5. Any offspring? Potential for? Not want?
(take care of this one now to avoid issues later) 

6. Is he familiar with ANY music produced after his high school graduation?
(No? That’s a deal breaker)

You get the idea…narrowing down the identity of the clique you think you’re writing best appeals to, can help you figure out the brand you’re developing. Well what a good idea!

I may be paraphrasing too broadly here, but that’s how my brain processed all the components into the neural filing cabinet. Yet I continue to wrestle with the idea of branding. I called upon the wisdom of a friend, someone I’ve known almost 30 years. I posed my questions and asked if the ideas made sense. With an immediate shushing noise, she said: you write for people who love red wine, eat dark chocolate, indulge their fantasies, and tell naysayers to bugger off.

Laughable. She’d basically described herself, but it helped and maybe isn’t even too far off the mark. At any rate, ideas about my brand are percolating.

Got any helpful analogies? How about an exercise or a cautionary tale? What success have you experienced in wrapping grey matter around the brand?

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