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Last week, in the introductory post, I gave you the definition of branding: A brand is an idea in the mind of the consumer. The power of a brand lies in its ability to influence purchasing decisions. It is your brand that does that, not your promotional tweets or advertising budgets. Your consumers buy your book instead of mine because they want your brand of storytelling. Click through the jump-break to start learning how to create that powerful brand that is "you."
Law 1: Expansion + Law 2: Contraction
In my previous marketing series (22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (for Indie Authors)), I noted that Laws 18 + 19 (Success and Failure) are two sides of the same coin. Here we have a similar situation in the Laws of Expansion and Contraction.
The first Immutable Law of Branding (Expansion) tells us that the power of a brand is inversely proportional to its scope. That is, your ability to influence purchasing decisions is inversely proportional to the scope of your brand. Or for you non-math regular people, the more you expand what your brand "means," the less power your brand has.
Even more to the point, your ability to influence purchasing decisions is directly proportional to your ability to focus your brand. The more focused your brand, the more powerful it is--that's Law 2. Wait, isn't that the same as Law 1? Yes, but reworded so you have no excuse for not understanding it!
Don't Expand, Contract
Most businesses try to milk a brand to bring in easy money in the short term. They use line extension, variable pricing and a sophisticated marketing techniques to bring in impulse buyers who don't actually know the brand exists. They never return to buy anything else and might not even remember the brand they bought when they get home with the goods. Even worse, all that milking wears down the brand until it no longer stands for anything. Do you have 99c books or $9.99 books? Do you have long books or shorts? Do you have mysteries or romances? If you're thinking you'd like to say "Yes!" to all, don't. Choose one and focus on it. Period. To do otherwise, weakens--or completely destroys--your brand (if one exists).
Invest in building your brand's identity. Make it narrow in scope (hence, inversely, it will be very strong) and make it distinguishable by a single word -- a one-word concept even if there is no such word. There was no word called Kleenex before it was invented by some marketing agent decades ago.
Do you know what a Kleenex actually is? Most people in the United States know it is a "facial tissue" and Kleenex brand makes them. In fact, that's all Kleenex brand makes--and Kleenex brand is now known worldwide as making them. By focusing and narrowing in one just one product, Kleenex brand became world-famous ("...Now a staple in homes across 150 countries....") Oh, and Kleenex brand has been around since 1924--almost a hundred years! Obviously, they're doing something right.
You might think Kleenex brand must have expanded, must have done some kind of line extension and created new products to survive this long. Nope, the fact of the matter is, they have had nearly exactly the same one product line for the entire century they've been selling. What they changed was their "branding" of their product. They addressed their branded product to a new market (new customer base) and made it seem like it was "something new, something different." It was the exact same thing.
For instance, Kleenex brand launched as a "ladies' disposable cold cream towel" in the 1920s to replace actual terry cloth towels used to remove makeup at the end of the day. Kleenex tissues, were clean, fresh and dispensed for you, one-at-a-time--a truly novel idea in the 1920s!
Then in the 1930s, Kleenex convinced men that the exact same product was just as useful to them as a "gentleman's disposable handkerchief." Back then, people only used cloth to wipe their noses. Don't forget that all of these cloth towels people were using to remove things from their faces and bodies had to be hand-laundered in most cases. Automatic washing machines didn't come out in force until the "future" - the 1950s.
You can imagine that during the 1940s and 1950s with the medical strides we achieved through penicillin, Kleenex's brand of "clean, fresh, disposable" tissues became known as a means of limiting germs and contamination.
What does all of this have to do with you and your Indie Books? I'm trying to illustrate to you the power of a brand--and of owning that brand's "position" in the consumer's mind.
Kleenex never changed their brand; they changed the way the brand was "stored" in the consumer's mind, constantly finding new ways to categorize the brand in the mind. They created and then claimed one new position after another--with the same product! They didn't expand their brand or their products. They expanded their position--and the market itself!
If you're reading this blog, then you probably write genre fiction--most Indie Authors do. Maybe you write romance, mystery, paranormal, crime thrillers. These are genres and genres are categories. Guess what? Some of these categories (e.g., paranormal) didn't even exist 50 years ago. They were clumped together or not even "labeled" as a "type" of fiction.
By focusing their brand of writing, their style and Authorial Voice, the early Authors of Paranormal fiction were able to establish a whole new genre, a new category--and Paranormal fiction is a thriving market today, to say the least. By establishing a category to fit your brand rather than expanding your brand to fit the existing categories, you expand the market and keep your brand focused (and strong!) It's a win/win in the best sense possible.
Next Monday we'll look at Law 3: Publicity and tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will be a followon from last week's Tuesday Tip. Tomorrow I'll give you 3 Tips for Using Hootsuite's BulkUpload tool from Patrick @BulkSchedule. Be sure to stop back!