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Putting Your Personal Brand To Work For You As A Writer

Whether you've gone through a Personal Branding exercise or not at this point, it's relevant to discuss what you're now going to DO with your Brand. How can having a Personal Brand really impact your efforts as a writer, and what are some techniques for "showing off" your Brand

You can manifest your Personal Brand in an almost endless variety of ways, from subtle to dramatically obvious, and how people experience your Brand is via its key Elements. We've discussed Brand Elements in a general sense before, so I'll just briefly recap below.

ELEMENTS OF YOUR BRAND

The primary purpose or need for a Brand is to sell something. In the case of a Personal Brand what you're selling is yourself. In the context of this discussion, you're selling yourself as an Author.

So how can your Brand help you with that A strong Brand gives you the ability to be consistent and positively memorable throughout every interaction with your audience. As you begin to use your Brand more and more to guide your decisions, you will find real synergies start to take place.

And it's important to note living your Brand should not be painful or tedious. It is ideally something that comes naturally not forced or something you "put on" for the sake of your audience. And that is truly the best kind of Personal Brand. If you find that you're faking it your Personal Brand is very possibly too much work, and not right for you.

The Elements of your Brand include:

  • You and your persona
  • Your "Look"
  • Your Marketing Materials
  • Your Work

You and Your Persona

This element of your Branding effort is the easiest it simply is who you are. Whether you're cheerful or serious, fun-living or methodical, wise or silly. This is how your friends know you, how your family knows you, and most likely how your coworkers or peers know you if they've worked with you for any amount of time.

How to make it work: put together a list of words others use to describe you. Gather as many terms as you can find go ahead, ask people (ideally, ask HONEST people). Then, sit down with this list and write down your Personal Brand Core Statement and/or your Slogan. Review the list against your Statement and Slogan what fits, and what doesn't If my Personal Brand is Joyful and I'm described as a heinous wench... we've got a problem here. I either need to be more myself with people OR I'm living in a dream world about what my Brand really is.

Your Brand should help define how you act with others socially, personally, and even how you move and interact with your environment when you're alone. Again, if your Personal Brand is a good fit for you, this should be a fairly unconscious effort. If you find you're working too hard to "match" your Personal Brand... you may need to retool it.

Your "Look"

This element of Branding can be more complicated, particularly as you begin to put yourself out there in public. Your "Look" includes your physical appearance and the clothing you wear, your accessories and your writing and speaking style. It's everything on your body as well as what surrounds you (when you can be surrounded by your stuff), such as your car, your house, your office space, your luggage, you name it.

Now, does this mean that if you drive a minivan and your slogan is "Red-Hot Mama", you have a disconnect Well, maybe if you drive a boring minivan with no trace of your personality on it. But if you've got plush chili peppers hanging from your rear-view mirror...you'll see those, remember why you have them there, and it will be a subtle and powerful reminder of your Brand.

How to make it work: Do a Brand Look inventory. Consider how you present yourself in public, how you dress, how you live, and what items surround you. What is consistent with your Brand, and what isn't Can you change the latter elements to be more consistent with your Brand This is particularly important for events like pitching, conference appearances, etc. If my Slogan contains "Edge" and I show up dressed in a bonnet and shawl, my Brand Look is far, far off track.

Your Marketing Materials

Your Marketing Materials includes everything you put out there about yourself, from bookmarks to postcards, from your query letter stationery to your business cards, from your website to your thank you notes. If you produce it and present it, it deserves a healthy dose of Brand Management. Even if you present your work on plain white paper with no stationery or "look" you can "Brand" your letter/communications with your writing style. In my case, I have a basic (but hopefully fun) website I can't wow anyone with expensive design, but I can draft the content of the website in a fun and somewhat edgy way.

How to make it work: Do a Marketing Materials inventory. What can you "brand" with your unique style Should you punch up your query letter copy Update your website to include more of your personality Get new business cards Explore fun pens or useful giveaways You don't have to do everything at once, by any means. Personal Branding shouldn't be an exercise that breaks the bank. But as you have the opportunity to adjust your marketing materials to match your Brand, you definitely should. Even the slightest adjustment will make a difference.

Not ready to spend money yet Again, please know that no purchase is required to brand yourself. Your branding effort can come through in your natural style, and in the content and professional presentation of your work. Even the frequency of your contacts can be part of your Branding effort. For example, if you send thank you notes know that not everyone does. Very likely, the perception that you are a thoughtful individual will become a part of your Brand.

Your Work

I'm including this here because your work will ultimately become the strongest expression of your Personal Brand. If your writing matches your slogan, or fulfills the Brand Promise that your slogan makes, your Personal Brand will obviously be that much more effective. So your work remains critical to the process. Just think of the last phenomenal-looking product with a killer brand that you bought... and that didn't live up to your expectations. Shoddy work can undermine even the best of Brands.

How to make it work: Remember that no matter where you are in the writing process, you are a professional. Brand your work that way ensure that any work you send out is timely, accurate, and well-presented. Be courteous and consistent in your communication with others, because you never know when you might be making a contact that will become important somewhere down the line. And, of course, write the best possible book you can... every single time.

The Elements of Branding give you a wealth of opportunities to consistently present your Personal Brand. Remember that consistency is key... but if you've chosen a Personal Brand that truly resonates for you, you'll find it remarkably easy to tie together the Elements of Branding in all of your professional interactions. And, of course, if you have any specific questions, please don't hesitate to email me.

About Jenn Stark

Jenn Stark

Jenn Stark brings a practical, accessible approach to Personal Branding to help authors at every level present themselves for maximum impact. A vice president of marketing and communications with fourteen years’ experience and a published freelance business writer, Jenn now serves as president of the Ohio Valley Romance Writers of America, and has also served as the chapter’s publicity director, promoting chapter and author events.

She is an invited speaker and instructor on Personal Branding and public relations topics, and has worked with several authors one-on-one to help develop their Personal Brands and publicity materials. Her articles on Personal Branding have been featured in the newsletters and online loops of 29 writing chapters in the U.S. and Canada.

She can be reached at jenn@knowyourbrand.com