Brand Me

by Doc Coleman on September 18, 2013 · 7 comments

in Asides

When I was re-listening to the audio for The Business of being an Author from Balticon 47, I was reminded of an issue that I had started to address a while ago, but then I got sidetracked and let it slide by the wayside. And that issue is branding. No, not the kind of branding made popular by cowboys marking cattle as part of their herds… Or maybe I do mean that kind of branding, just not as applied with hot irons on tender, living flesh. At least not mine.

So what kind of branding am I talking about? Well, the context for all this is the push to get The Perils of Prague ready for publication. Part of that decision is determining the look and feel of the published book, and part of it is determining how I want to present myself as an author. The panel from Balticon makes an excellent point that how an author presents themselves to the public becomes their brand. Real or imagined, that is the way that the public will look at them, and once that idea is set, it can be very difficult to change. This is part of the reason some authors have multiple personas for publishing in different genres.

Like most authors, I haven’t given much thought to branding my image. When I’ve needed to use a picture of myself, I just look through my recent pictures and pick one that looks nice. I post it and I move on. A.L Davroe did much the same thing with her branding, and as she put it in the panel, people couldn’t recognize her unless she put on a hat and looked at them over her shoulder. Sounds great for being able to mingle incognito, but not so great for those times when you actually want to meet your fans.

So, when choosing branding, one should think carefully about it, and pick something that one can live with and that has lots of mileage, as you’re likely to be living with it for quite a while. That was the kind of thought I put into adopting the Swimming Cat Studios name and choosing a logo, why not put the same thought into choosing my public appearance?

Good question.

My answer? I don’t know what to do.

This would be easy if I had a clear view of how I wanted the world to see me. For example, if I wanted to be thought of as a writer of a particular genre, I’d choose my image to help convey that idea. So, if I wanted to be a Sci-Fi author, I might, for example, have a vest made from starfield material and wear that vest at all my appearances and in all the public photos. If I wanted to be a Steampunk author, I might always wear a top hat, or a pith helmet, or some other Victorian era headgear with goggles strapped to it. Like The Doctor’s sonic screwdriver, these items become signature accessories that help define the person. Icons to make them more recognizable.

The rub is that I don’t want to limit myself to just one genre. I want to be able to write Sci-Fi and Steampunk and Fantasy and whatever else comes to mind and be able to have it accepted under a single brand. I don’t want to have separate personas for different genres. Can you imagine going to a con as more than one author persona? Can you imagine having the con staff schedule two personas at the same panel? Can you imagine having the con staff schedule two personas at different panels at the same time?!?

Sooooo… What is it about me that is iconic? Man, that can be hard to think about. And as likely as not, what a person thinks of as their personal signature is probably not what others would focus on.

And it may already be too late.

As I had mentioned before, I, like most authors, never thought about what kind of image I want to project. I just picked a good photo and used that. Well, I’ve done this a few times.

So now I’m at the point where I’m looking at publishing a book, which means I really need to get a proper headshot taken. A nice, professional looking image to represent me as an author. An image that will be my brand and help readers picture me in their heads. While I’m thinking on how I want to present myself, I go back and look at these pictures that I’ve used in the past.

picture-7115.jpg 29124_1275716546750_1645050837_691915_866971_n

Notice anything? OK, the beard in the middle picture is red. That was a really cool Photoshop done by Nuchtchas. Extra points if you know which character it is a cosplay of.

Let me tell you what I noticed: I’m wearing an Ascot in all three pictures. Also, I’m wearing the same shirt in all three pictures. Now, I do like an Ascot, but I don’t know that I want to always wear an Ascot when at events. And I’d like to be able to wear different shirts.

So, the question remains: how do I want to brand myself? What style do I want to project? What do I need for a headshot?

Any suggestions?

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Melissa (My World...in words and pages) October 2, 2013 at 10:32 am

Huh. Now that’s a tough one. Brand you…

Hmm, If those three pictures are the three to pick from, you have an amazing selection. I like all of them. But, I’d probably go with the third for your books…or maybe the second.

The second has a fun feel to it. Exciting almost. And something different that stands out in my eye. Something more than a simple head shot.

The third, however, shows your eyes. You aren’t hiding from us. And you look as kind as you are in person. And when I talked to you, I feel you have a proper feel, which the ascot and shirt seems to fit well. The kind expression and the ascot works for you. šŸ™‚ And more a formal picture.

I like seeing more formal pictures rather than someone in jeans and a t-shirt. I feel you are thinking highly of yourself and your works.

But, that’s just one thought. šŸ™‚

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2 Doc Coleman October 2, 2013 at 5:46 pm

Actually, the issue is more that while trying to choose how to brand myself, I have discovered that I may have already established a brand image without knowing it. And part of that image seems to be the ascot.

Soooo… Do I embrace this and always wear an ascot? Expand it to a collection of atypical neckware (ascot, bow tie, cravat, etc)? Or just ignore it and go with something else? Hmmm…

Nice to know you think the ascot works.

Doc

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