Monday, October 1, 2012

MONDAY MARKETING Branding 21 Law of Mortailty: No Brand Lives Forever #pubtip #indie #selfpub #marketing

  some image rights reserved by Paulo Brandã
Welcome back to my marketing series on the Immutable Laws of Branding (for Indie Authors). I've been rewriting the original concepts by Al Ries in his landmark book so that they apply to the Indie Author in the Digital Publishing industry (neither of which concepts even existed when Ries wrote his book 20+ years ago). Over the course of this series, I've been talking about "branding," defined as follows:

A brand is an idea in the mind of the consumer whose power lies in the ability to influence purchasing decisions.

The key point lies in the brand's power to influence. An Author Brand can only influence purchasing decisions if people are aware of the brand's existence. Likewise, a well-known Brand Name that doesn't stand for anything has no value. Click through the jump-break to learn more about the mortality of an Author Brand Name.

Only the Rocks Live Forever
Brand Names are only useful and valuable while they hold the power to influence a purchasing decision, so at some point--when the brand becomes obsolete or stops standing for any one identifiable thing--it will be time to allow the brand to die a natural death. That's the Law of Mortality in a nutshell. Eventually, every brand will die, some just cling to life support longer. At some point, the responsible thing to do is to pull the plug.

Over the last two weeks, in my discussions of Law 19 (Law of Consistency) and Law 20 (Law of Change), I've discussed various reasons how, when or why it might be  appropriate to let the old brand go and just start again from scratch. Sometimes, you have so much invested, it's worth trying every possible heroic means to save the brand's life. Coca-Cola, for instance, has been around over a hundred years and still stands for "The Real Thing" (the original cola soft drink). Polaroid, on the other hand, known for instant photographs, now carries the connotation of being an archaic brand. After all, when you have Instagram and TwitPic, why do you need Polaroids? So while it might be worth nurturing the lifespan of Coca-Cola's "Real Thing," it's probably better to just let Polaroid die a natural death.

And therein lies the crux of Immutable Law of Branding 21, the time to let a brand die--or to help it along by pulling the plug--is when a push towards a new category becomes so overwhelmingly popular that it is no longer a fad but a trend.

I discussed the difference between fad and trend in my Marketing (for Indie Authors) series under Law 21: Acceleration. Once a trend develops, it is likely to be there for the long-term. That's why you want your Author Brand to develop into a trend. If, however, a competing fad turns into a trend, it could obliterate your Author Brand--permanently.

This is one of the ways to determine if the Law of Mortality has come into play: analyze why your Author Brand has faded into obscurity. If it is simply that your initial popularity was, itself, a fad which has run its course, you missed the opportunity to tamp down the fad into a trend and should apply the Law of Change. If, instead, the problem is that your brand's life has just run its course, you might have to allow it to die a natural death and start again, with a new brand.

A New Brand for a New Day
Launching a new brand might not be such a terrible thing. Right now, the Digital Publishing industry is shifting from infancy to toddlerhood. We are all still trying to get our legs under us and find a way to run this race. If you're launching a new brand right now, you might find you have several advantages over those who got started say three, four or five years ago, when Digital Publishing was just starting to boom.

For one thing, eBooks are no longer "new" and "unknown." The "strangeness" has worn off and the average consumer is aware of what they are and how to use them. They might not understand how to get them or which kind (format) is "better" but most people know that you read an eBook on a digital device like a computer, tablet or smartphone using a software program or app.

Although eBooks have been around over a decade, their popularity in the American market didn't really swell until the introduction of the smartphone. Even the introduction of Apple's iPhone didn't quite push the boom to dizzying heights. The simultaneous introduction of the iPad with the Android smartphone, followed by Android tablets, all within a short succession of each other, drove the popularity of eBooks with the American consumer.

Given the availability of hardware that the average consumer can actually afford, eBooks are now more popular than ever. As I've mentioned previously in several  blog articles - see this one from June of 2011 and a particularly good one in the Marketing (for Indie Authors) series under Law of Unpredictability - I predict that interactive eBooks are going to take over as soon as the hardware, connectivity and creation tools all catch up and become financially accessible like the smartphone market has done.

Is your Author Brand Name dying? Is your original brand is tied to a concept of paper books? Is now the time to launch a new brand concept as a digital author--one that is specifically digital? I think right now is the time to get in on the ground floor. It can actually be a GoodThing(tm) to let nature take its course. Be first, be original, and launch your own new brand of digital storytelling--before someone else sets a new standard!

What's Next....
Next week's Monday Marketing will be Immutable Law of Branding (for Indie Authors) 22: Law of Singularity. Unlike the Immutable Law of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 16 (also called Law of Singularity), this is call to focus your branding efforts into a singular idea. You can get a head start by reviewing the Immutable Law of Marketing (for Indie Authors) Law 5: Law of Focus. I'll also do a wrapup of all the concepts covered in this branding series.

Tomorrow's Tuesday Tip will fly through the sales tools Apple provides to those of us with eBooks in the iBookstore (iTunes for eBooks). Hope to see you then!

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