An Introduction to Branding

Posted by: Joshua Unruh 1 year, 4 months ago

Recently, I visited an author’s conference that had a plethora of workshops and panels as part of its lineup. Always curious what others are saying about my area of expertise, I visited two different panels on the topic of branding yourself as a self-published author.

One of those talks was funny, informative, and generally gave a firm foundation for the concept of branding. The other one was a little haphazard with bits of advice on what had worked or not worked for the authors on the panel.

Despite their differences, a general feeling of “Okay…what now?” permeated both rooms. And I get it! Well, I didn’t at first, but after much pondering, I eventually got it. Writers are really good at to-do lists. Write this many words per day, put the anchor scenes here, work in some three beats, spend this much time on revisions, etc. The writers in those rooms wanted to walk away with a to-do list for branding themselves. And there just isn’t any such thing.

The thing is, writers only understand their writer to-do list because they think about writing all the time. To non-writers, a reasonable number of words written daily sounds insurmountable and they don’t even know what anchor scenes and three beats are. The branding to-do list is kinda like this.

Let me give you an example.

Laying Down the Law

My wife is a practicing attorney and, as all attorneys do, she went to three years of law school and passed the Bar exam to make that happen. When she started law school, we really didn’t know what to expect. As the education wore on, one fact continued to surprise us: none of her law professors were teaching her how to practice law. No, they were doing something better.

They taught her how to think about the law.

Her professors wouldn’t tell her how to run the business side of a practice. They didn’t prepare her for the bar. Instead, they created a lens through which she could see the world as a lawyer.

You know, kinda like the lens we writers have created where word counts, anchor scenes, and revisions make all the sense in the world.

Or the marketing lens we’re going to create that will put branding into perspective.

Crafting the Marketing Lens

Good news, writers! You won’t be starting from scratch with your marketing lens, it can be adapted from the writer lens. Brands are something with which we already have intimate familiarity.

Brands are stories.

It can be a story of the promises you make to your readers, the tale of who you are, or the legend of who you plan to be.

A brand can be actual, giving a representation of who you are now, or aspirational, giving a glimpse of what you’re striving to become. The most effective brands tend to be a little of both. In order to truly succeed, the perceptions of a brand must align with the intent of the brand.

Come back next time and we’ll talk about that intentional branding. For examples, though, you might look up in the sky! Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s my object lesson. See you then.