Brand Me, Baby

That’s my kid.  I posted this picture for two reasons.  1) To embarrass the crap out of him and 2) He looks a lot like me, I created him to help promote my “brand.”

I want to talk about Branding.  No, not the kind you do to cattle.  Unless that’s part of your marketing plan to promote your book, a tour that includes “Free Branding of the Author’s Signature with Every Purchase!!”  Hmm, on second thought, don’t steal that.  I might use it.

I’m talking about how you brand yourself in your marketing materials, your internet presence, everywhere you want your book to be.  As a composer for film & television who wrote a book, I was already thinking about branding the book before it was finished, which prompted my PR person to say (more than once) “Finish the book first, then we’ll talk about promoting the darn thing!”  Because I had to brand myself as a composer years prior, I was already in that mindset as an author.

The most important thing to remember, if you take nothing else from this article (including the “branding” idea in the first paragraph.  That’s mine.) is Continuity.  You want people to remember your book.  You want them to know that it’s your book in that ad, that review, that bookstore site, within 2 seconds of looking at it.  The best way to do this is by choosing ONE design, ONE color scheme, ONE picture of yourself that you use everywhere you want a presence.  If you’re promoting your book on social media sites (and you should be, I had more pre-orders from Twitter followers than the rest of the web combined), your Facebook page should match your Twitter page, which should match your MySpace page, all of which should match your website and/or blog.  The key here is to create an association between your design aesthetic and your book so that people recognize your product immediately.

Let me give you an example.  My book contains a story about me joking about being “pantsless” all the time.  I’m obviously not, but this has become a recurring question and joke amongst my readers.  It made sense to use that to my advantage, so I had the photoshoot for the cover changed to reflect my “pantslessness.”  Then I created a viral video “ad” for the book in which I was pantsless.  I used photos from the pantsless photoshoot in every avatar.  Yes, it’s an odd way to “brand” yourself, but the inferred controversy surrounding my lack of pants has gotten me a half dozen web, radio and television interviews in the last month alone.

Another branding technique is using one “voice.”  My book is mostly autobiographical, and there’s a way I use humor and sarcasm to weave the story of my life into the pages of the book.  But I also use that voice in my blog posts, in my Facebook Fan Page updates, and in all of my tweets on Twitter.  There’s a uniformity in the way that I write that blends all the places on the web I’m present together, so that they all feel like extensions of the book.  If your book is fiction, trying writing in the voice of the protagonist anywhere you have a presence.  It also helps you keep the blurbs and posts on social media sites fresh and interesting, and keeps the writing muscle in your brain active.

Finally, be real.  People are smart, and will see right through a sales pitch.  Talk about your book with the same passion you wrote it.  Your readers will recognize your sincerity and trust you, which in turn will sell the book by itself.  And ultimately, that’s much better than branding them physically.