Branding brings you in a funny way closer to your reader. Some writers of course scoff at the very notion of branding themselves, and they have a point: in a way it’s the commercialization of something ineffable, like literary talent. But it’s unavoidable, too, since name recognition implies branding and most writers want to be known.
So if you happen to be a writer who becomes celebrated you’re inevitably branded. That can be considered confining, since some writers feel that it leads to a misplaced expectation on the part of readers about what to expect from a new book. And this is a good point.
But a writer will always have a certain style and can continue to delight readers by invention, such as the bestselling novelist Kate Atkinson, who goes between twisty police procedurals and literary puzzles, always playing with plot, perspective, time and, yes, reader expectations. They are each different, her novels, but they are all recognizably the work of Kate Atkinson.
You’re probably writing to build a business and offer a service. This means that branding for you is something essential, rather than a result of becoming known for your having written a bestselling novel. You want to be commercialized – or at least, you want to be known enough so that your brand, whatever it is, becomes one that people will look to when they have a problem that your business or service can solve.
And if you’re writing a book as part of a branding effort, the brand is important. Even literary writers are looked at for their commercial prospects.
Here are a few reasons why branding is increasingly important, and why what you’re doing will help you.
1. A good brand is an audience-builder. You will be known as the source.
2. Your blog will draw traffic. That leads to discussion, and that brings you to the minds of a wider public. Publishers and agents look at traffic on websites as a sign of how well you’re doing, and of your potential for future sales.
3. Your brand will make the marketing of a book once it’s published that much easier. This is tied in with the second point, but you will be able to concentrate on marketing through your brand, rather than having to find a new audience for each book. You’ve got a built-in platform.
4. The brand can branch you out into new spheres. That is, if you are known for being the expert in a field, you can offer that expertise in other complementary fields. The brand, in business, isn’t limiting.
5. It will actually become easier for you to focus. Branding helps you concentrate on whether your message is working, or is in line with what you really want. By the time you’ve built your brand, or by the time the brand gets going, you will have thought hard about how to make it stick in the minds of the public. So as you go forward with your writing and marketing, you’ll be able to weigh things to make sure they align with your brand. And if they don’t, they might not work for you – or they might lead to yet another brand opportunity.