The Problem of Over-Branding

The Problem of Over-BrandingThere’s branding and there’s over-branding.

Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times writes about the proliferation of talk shows on television sign of celebrities who seek to “expand their marketing horizons”.  She goes on to talk about how some celebrities, including Kanye North, refer to themselves or others (such as Kim Kardashian) as brands.

That’s going a bit far, don’t you think?

A brand is to help define your product or service in the marketplace. Of course, if you are the product (or service), such as a celebrity, than you are the brand. But there’s a limit – when you refer to a loved one as a brand rather than a person, you’re confusing marketing with being. And  that egomaniacal brand-centric (a hyper-sized me-centric) approach seems strangely out of sync with today’s way of looking at the world. These “over-branding” celebrities look foolish.

Those who create a brand, however, to become known in the market, and to give their audiences a clearer picture of what they represent and what they can expect from them, are different.

You don’t see readers refer to authors as brands. As they shouldn’t. But the “branded” authors, from Mitch Albom to Stephen Covey, want to be known for their work, and for their work to be known. But they don’t want (or at least I assume so) to be considered to be nothing more than a brand. Because if that’s all you are, then you’re simply a representation of an idea, rather like an advertising icon, than the embodiment of what you offer.

Branding is with us. It’s not going away in the near future, and those who protest the rise in marketing of oneself as a writer are either naive or too high-minded. And if you’re self-publishing, then you’ve got to develop the brand you want your readers to know, so that when your book hits the market, the market is eager for it.

But always refer to yourself as the author of your book, rather than the brand behind it. Branding shouldn’t go to your head.

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One Response to “The Problem of Over-Branding”

  1. KirstenNelson September 23, 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    Great points, Bob. It’s so important to have substance behind the brand. Otherwise it just won’t last.

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