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What Is A Brand And Why You Need It

"Personal Branding simply stated: your personal brand is what others think of when they think of you and your work. It's a simple set of phrases, images and impressions that help form a definition of a given person." Branding expert Jenn Stark,

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When working on my upcoming non-fiction novel, Tricked Out Toolbox, I decided to have quotes from all different authors in all different genres and publishing forms. Brand is a big chapter in TOT!

Ask five people what branding is and you’ll get five similar answers. People understand the basic concept of branding. When a customer hears your name or picks up a product, they have an immediate and strong impression of what they’re going to get. Read a John Grisham book and you’re in for a legal thriller with a smidgeon of romance. Pick up an Olivia Davis Mystery and you’ll get a smart and humorous mystery read with enough drama to make it interesting and enough spice to give a little thrill and anticipation.

Let’s be clear, branding is NOT about a tagline; branding is about reader expectation. That’s not to say that a tagline isn’t important, but ultimately, branding is about what a reader is going to experience while reading your books. Author Angi Morgan says it’s like buying Campbell’s Soup or Pepsi. You know you can count on the product living up to your expectation.
In the writing world, I've created my brand as "the high class hillbilly."
I know it sounds silly, but it's funny and easy to remember. My readers remember me for my bubbly personality, swag give aways, and quirky writing style. Your brand is what you want your readers to remember. It's the heart of your writing image.
When you think about Janet Evanovich, you immediately think about Stephanie Plum. Stephanie Plum has become Janet's brand. You know when you pick up her book you are going to be getting quirky and fun, plus the mystery isn't bad either;)

If you pick up a Tonya Kappes (me) novel, you know you are getting a story about quirky families, humor, laugh-out-loud moments, and some tears.
I had pleasure of connecting with Jennifer Fusco, a branding expert. She has a new non-fiction novel, Market Or Die. I was lucky enough for Jennifer to send me a copy!
And it's well worth it. Many authors overlook branding when they begin their careers. You don't realize it, but you've already been branded by your readers. If you haven't published your book, you need to think about building your brand NOW!
Her “Market or Die” Book Tells How to Develop a Brand That Sells “Branding is the other half of the battle to get your books out there, whether you write fiction, non-fiction, self-help or any other kind of book,” says Fusco.
“First you have to write a good book – it is impossible to build a brand if you don’t have a good product. Where the majority of first-time authors fail is not typically in the writing, but in the marketing of the book.”
“While I have been a writer for most of my life, it has been my experiences in corporate America that have enabled me to look through the marketing prism as it applies to books and authors,” says Fusco. “As with a new product or service, you have to have a strategy, a good understanding of your audience and what that audience is seeking or might need, and you have to execute the strategy with action steps that bring the book and author forward into the marketplace.”
Fusco says that today easily 60 to 70 percent of new books are self-published by independent and books-on-demand publishers. Whether the author is independently or traditionally published doesn’t matter; the same marketing and branding principles apply. New authors often believe that when they finish writing their book and have it published the hard work is over.
“But the real heavy lifting is just about to start,” she says. With “Market or Die” Jennifer Fusco is practicing what she preaches, and the result has been rapidly growing sales via Amazon of her book, both in print and e-book. She says what is most puzzling to her is that with all the social media available today, she doesn’t see new authors taking advantage of it enough.
“Very inexpensively you can market your book today using the techniques of social media. FACEBOOK and Twitter are just two of the channels you can use. There are many blogs on the Internet that may pertain to your topic as well, and they can be used to publicize your book and build your brand name whether you write romance novels or want to teach people how they can build a house by being their own general contractor.” Fusco says personal websites are another good way to market book and author. 

The long and short of it is that branding is the heart of your writing image.
What is your brand? What do you want the readers to think about your writing?

Coming on Friday, I'm going to help you discover your brand! Stay tuned!!


  1. Love Jennifer Fusco. Have all her books on my Kindle. She really is one of the Greats!! Part of branding is like the wrapping on a gift. Think Tiffany's here. You see that shade of blue and you know you're going to like whatever's in the box!!

  2. Great breakdown. A lot of thought needs to go into how the author needs to relate to their potential customers/audience. Most do not consider how this will affect their communications (social media for ex) and end up just spamming 'buy me.' They don't realize that they need to hold to their own 'brand voice' for their audience to be able to relate to them.

  3. Branding confuses the heck out of me so I'm definitely going to stay tuned.

  4. I've been thinking about 'brand' for quite a while, in part because of some things you've previously written about it. But I still don't have a good grasp of what MY brand could/should be.
    I'm glad you have an upcoming column which will help steer me.

  5. My brand right now is Scot loving chick Over Coffee. Being sick this past year sorta stopped me in my tracks for developing more. I'm working on that now.


  6. Excellent info! On my way to purchase Market or Die!

  7. Great blog, Tonya, and thank you for the shout out :) . I think brand carries more weight now than ever, but you are so right.... You first have to write an exceptional book! A great discussion!

    Jenn (Stark/McGowan)

  8. Pj, I'm so glad you have studied Jennifer. She definitely knows her stuff. She's an amazing speaker!!

  9. Great points, PW! "Branding voice" is very important when you are relating to your audience. I don't think a lot of authors realize this.Thank you so much for stopping by.

  10. Sharon, you aren't alone. Branding was very hard for me to understand too. Luckily, Jenn Stark is a great friend and I've seen her speak several times on it. IT still baffles me sometimes:)

  11. Jeff, whether you know it or not. You're already branding yourself with your blog and the content there. I will have a list of words to help you put this into a brand that you will understand and be able to relate to your audience.

  12. Hugs to you, Sia! I had no idea you've been so sick. I'm sending healing vibes your way;) I absolutely LOVE your new site. The music is fun, the posts are festive, and the guests are amazing. You are doing great!

  13. Maria, please let me know how you like the book. Jennifer does a great job explaining how to go about branding. Great job!

  14. I agree, Jenn Stark! There is so much out there, that knowing your brand will really give you a leg up. I love to see you here;)

  15. Hi Tonya,
    Thanks for the shout out. Sorry that I didn't see your post until today. So great that you are tackling a subject on brand. I hope authors realize they can start brand building even before they are published. Thanks for helping to lead the charge!
    Jennifer Fusco

  16. I quite enjoy branding! Having working in PR and marketing, it's kind of second nature. Thanks for all the great info, Tonya!

  17. Great stuff. Branding is a challenge. I think of it as packaging a product. And send my clients to Neiman Marcus & car dealerships (or their websites) for research. Taglines are especially tough. To take all that one stands for and distill it down to pure essence ... it's HUGE!!

  18. Talli, sometimes I think I missed my calling in college. I should've done PR:)) AND you are doing a great job marketing your novels!!! LOVE your Marilyn gig:)

  19. I agree, PJ. I love watching commercials or looking at ads in a magazine. I break them down. It's very cool to see how the concepts make the products.


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