What Does Branding Really Mean?

Branding is something you hear a lot about if you read anything to do with marketing. And no, I’m not talking about branding with a red-hot iron, although I suppose there are times that could be useful, too.

No, I’m talking about branding as in “marketing your brand”, “brand recognition”, and that sorta stuff. I’ve read a lot about it, although I’ll confess that I don’t know a lot about it. But this morning I read a comment by Paula Jordan on my interview at Dark Cargo that hit the nail right on the head without a lot of marketspeak.

Paula was commenting on the avatar photo that I use for my on-line presence, from my email signatures, Twitter, Facebook, and even Gravatar. Here’s what it looks like, with my ugly, smiling mug and cool $10 sunglasses, flying in the back seat of my cousin Wendy’s plane over the Great Salt Lake. I’ll tell you right now, you wouldn’t believe how many people have asked me about this photo!

Anyway, this is what Paula said:

And that photo is definitely a keeper. I am embarrassed to say that I didn’t recognize your name when I read the interview, but recognized your pic immediately.

That’s a better definition of branding than all the marketese I’ve ever read. That photo has become something people recognize and associate with me, even when my name doesn’t ring a bell. That’s really what branding is: all the ways that people can or will recognize you or what you do, without even knowing or remembering your name.

For an author, a couple of your best branding “strategies” are a photo of yourself that is notable, and – of course – your book covers, particularly for a series of books. For example, my IN HER NAME series uses the same fonts and text element placement, and also has the handle of a sword placed very prominently. If you’ve seen any of the books in that series, you’ll immediately recognize the others.

So, there’s some food for thought on branding. And thanks, Paula!

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