Monday, August 8, 2011

Getting Branded

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No, I'm not talking about getting the ol' Circle-J red hot and burning it into your hide so everyone knows you're my property, I'm talking about what you want people to think of when your name is mentioned.

When you hear the name Oprah Winfrey, certain things pop into your head. Same for Michael Jackson. Same for Xerox and KFC and Honda and Coca Cola. That's the power of a brand. What pops into people's heads when YOUR name is mentioned? What do people remember about you? What do you WANT them to remember about you? That's your brand. You can also think of it as your reputation. It's better to pick your reputation than to have it pick you. Here are some of the things people think of when my name is mentioned. (Depends on who it is and how they know me, too.)

"Jaycee is 'Bad'." There are a number of women I treat like girlfriends, in that I act like myself, tease them, make funny, sarcastic jokes around them, and occasionally give hugs to if I think they've earned it. These women all tell me I'm 'bad,' meant in an affectionate way. I get swats and gasps and even declarations that "you're so bad," all said with big, dopey grins on their faces and lilting laughs in their voices.

"Jaycee is Emotive and Descriptive." Anyone who has heard me read, or who has read one of my stories, can see that I'm very good at provoking emotions with my descriptions and with the way I read. My characters are alive in my head, and I give them voice. Primarily women think this because they're more in touch with their emotions, but I've had a few men say it too.

"Jaycee is Smart." Almost everyone who knows me tells me this. A few occasionally think I take it a little too far, and I occasionally DO take it too far. I don't mind; I've spent so long telling myself I'm an idiot, but now that I take more pride in my brain, I do get a little prideful. We all should once in a while, right?


"Jaycee takes Charge and is Reliable." I've always tried to be reliable. If I say I'm going to do something, chances are good it'll get done on time. Lately, I've also been taking charge more often, making decisions when others seem paralyzed by doubt. Better a wrong decision fast than a right decision never. Most people are seeing this, now that I'm doing it more.

"Jaycee is Generous." I give of myself. I do it now even more than I used to. It's fun! The women whom I've "known" will readily tell you this. It makes it a little easier to "know" more of them when word spreads. People who hang out with me are finding out my generosity extends to giving them useful ideas with which to build their businesses too.

"Jaycee knows Computers." I've even had the guts to make money at it. Now that I take myself more seriously, I'll do a lot better at it. I'm not a super-hacker, but I "get" the internet and computers in general, and I have no difficulty teaching it to others, even to complete beginners. Most of my friends and family come to me with computer problems because they know I'm generous, and they know I'll answer their questions in a way they'll understand.

"Jaycee is Healthy and Energetic." I can run a mile or walk five without difficulty. I'm rarely sick. I'm only about 20 pounds overweight. I drink lots of water and usually avoid sweets. I'm usually full of energy when everyone else is run down.

"Jaycee is good at Critiquing and Editing." Many of the writers I know want me to be a critiquer of their work, and my biggest fan loves to tell people I'm her personal editor. People respect my opinion quite a lot more than I'm used to, and I'm learning how to handle that responsibility. I take it seriously; people rest their writing reputations on me.

These are nice reputations, but they're not really brands, except possibly the second one, which will tell you what you'll get if you pick up one of my stories. What you need is something that's uniquely you, that identifies you. If you could choose what people are saying about you, what would it be?

"Jaycee wrote an 800 page novel." I used to use this as a brand - as a way for new people in the writers group to remember me - but I've decided to stop using it. Nothing wrong with being prolific, it just wasn't the image I wanted to project.

Let's go back to that other one I mentioned. "Jaycee is Emotive and Descriptive." If I were a writer of women's fiction or romance, that would be a treasured reputation! Because women are more sensative to and expressive of their emotions and their surroundings, they eat up anything they perceive to be emotive and descriptive. "Jaycee Adams" would evoke images of the fantastic voyages I've taken millions of readers on, and they would crave the next novel, perhaps pound on my door and demand I write the next one RIGHT NOW!!! I could likewise turn such a power to writing mysteries. Or I could channel it into a TV show or movie. (My biggest fan insists my book is actually a movie because she loves my characterizations.)

If all I wanted to be was a writer of romance novels and the like, that would be a good brand to promote and a good reputation to live up to, but I want something more than that. More than anything else, I want to be known for changing lives. The name Tony Robbins evokes that kind of imagery, and I want to do much the same thing he does. The name Tim Ferriss evokes other imagery which I'd like to emulate. Will I be the next one of those?

But what about you? What do you want to evoke? Start doing it, make it your reputation, and you will make it your brand.

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