By: Joe Thomas of Left Brain Digital
You hear it and see it every day: Follow me. Like us. Google it. And you know exactly what it means, don't you?
That's the power of brand recognition. You know the Gecko, the e-Trade baby, and probably all the words to the Free Credit Score.Com songs, too. What? You thought these characters and catch phrases just happened overnight? Not! They were planned and strategically planted, and they have become the "faces" of their respective brands.
Recognition is not the only thing – it's everything. I'm going to use an author as our test dummy for this piece because I've developed enough author websites to know there is a lot of confusion about how they should brand themselves.
I recently had a conversation with a prospective new client; let's call him Gunther Zigby. Now, Gunther wrote a book and hired an out-of-work hairdresser to “build a website tonight" that finally appeared online four months later. After getting only 30 visitors to his site and not selling a single book in more than five months, Gunther talked to a friend of a friend, who gave him my number.
I asked Gunther for his web address and he gave me the title of his book. I asked him if he had misunderstood – I was asking for his web address, the URL for his site.
"That’s it,” he said. “My book title is my website address, too. Pretty cool, huh?"
Well, Gunther, no. Not really!
I only mention Gunther Zigby because it leads me into a really important-sounding message: The Proper Packaging In Relation to the Development of Your Brand.
1. As an author/writer - understand that YOU are the brand – not your book. Have you ever heard of John Grisham? I rest my case.As an author, odds are you have written one or two books, but are still virtually unknown outside of your circle. It's not easy, but without the right tools, it’s pretty much impossible to break out of that circle. You have to create a package that will upgrade you from "virtually unknown" to "hot commodity." That requires a plan and execution.
2. A good many authors are also public speakers. When was the last time you heard of a book being hired for a speaking engagement? See, when it's all said and done, they really do want YOU!
3. If your website URL is your book title, what happens if, and when, you write another book? Now you're catching on; you just figured out that you’d have to build a whole new website for the second book, didn't you?
You may be branding yourself as an expert on your topic – because you are! That’s a smart way to go but only part of the package. What kind of expert are you? Are you a roll-up-your-sleeves hands-on sort? Or do you have a flash and polish that make people say, “She’s successful. I need to listen to her.” Or, are you a funny, approachable everyone’s-favorite-uncle type?
What is your message? Your promise? What can you consistently deliver, whether it’s on your blog or as a speaker?
Even when you have everything 110 percent right, it's not easy achieving the stature that makes your name as well-known as, say, John Grisham’s. But by laying the right foundation, you’re at least giving yourself a good running start.
About Joe ThomasJoe Thomas is the founder and owner of Left Brain Digital (www.leftbraindigital.com), a web development company. He’s an award-winning web designer/developer with more than 18 years of experience in print and web design and development. Thomas' work became a major influence in graphic and web design in the "Y2K" era of the Internet's dot-com explosion.