What is an author brand? I've been asking myself this but haven't had much of a chance to research the question. One of my Google Alters sent me a link to Laurel Marshfield's article, What's an Author Brand?
Brands are those vague but persuasive associations we conjure up whenever we think of any well-known product. Mac computers. TIDE laundry detergent. Nike running shoes.Read the rest of What's an Author Brand?
Brands are also the far more complex associations that come to mind whenever we think of well-known authors. Often, they’re a flash of images mixed with a dominant feeling, or a scene from a particular book montaged with memory fragments.
Here’s a small demonstration. Does the name Stephen King conjure something different for you than the name J.K. Rowling? What about Dan Brown, Elizabeth Gilbert, Jodi Picoult? Or Malcolm Gladwell, Joan Didion, Seth Godin? What association appears for a second or so when you first see each name?
People Aren’t Products
Whatever that instant of recognition is composed of, it’s there because that author’s brand put it there. Each association is complex and meaningful — unlike the association you’d experience for a brand of laundry detergent.
In fact, it’s that much-ado-about-nothingness which characterizes many product brands that makes it easy to imagine authors rejecting the B word as too schlocky, too commercial, too huckster-esque. So let’s substitute the word “story,” instead.
Your Brand Is Your Author Story
The author story (aka brand) refers to the complex messages authors put out into the world about themselves and their books — which we then absorb and retain in a highly individual way.
Suppose that you, like author Michael Cunningham, were interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” You talked about your struggles with writing, as well as your then-recent book, The Hours (later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep). You were articulate, charming, fascinating — someone any listener would want to know more about, because what you had to say was vivid and substantive.
So, you think, is that Cunningham’s brand?