Monday, March 14, 2011

My View on Branding

Super Spawn and I watched the newest Scooby Doo all day Sunday, and some of the bonus features on the DVD got me thinking. 


You see, this was the newest "real" Scooby Doo movie.  (So, not animated.)  The commentary during the feature that talked about making this movie was where my idea came into play.  The director talked about the lengths they went to to be sure the Scooby trademarks were in the movie.  This is for fan recognition, expectations and, you guessed it, branding.

When you think of Scooby Doo, what pops into mind?  Maybe the theme song?  Fred's ascot?  The classic removal of the mask from the villain?  Or maybe all of the above.

If Scooby Doo is one thing, it's consistent.  Every time you turn on a show, you know what to expect.  You know you'll be entertained, that the villain will be unmasked, and that it will end with, "I'd have gotten away with it if it weren't for you meddling kids and your dog."

Same thing goes for writing.  Branding yourself as an author is the same kind of idea.  You want to uphold your readers expectations.  And I don't think it's as scary or limiting as some writers do.

It doesn't necessarily mean writing the same thing over and over, in my opinion.  I believe it's more about staying true to your style.  Every writer has a different style.  Some always write in that lyrical prose that I liken to eating dark chocolate truffles, and some have a more jaunty lilt.  One author may have a certain knack for ending chapters in a compelling way, while others have more fulfilling chapter endings.  Same with the overall endings...some people prefer the loose endings left to the readers imagination while others prefer tightly wrapped answers.

I think if we look at branding like Scooby Doo, we'll all feel a little less anxious about it.

What do you think?  Do you agree with me here?  Are you adverse to the idea of creating your brand?


KO: The Insect Collector said...

this is smart and savvy.
And I like your emphasis on style. It think it's about recognizing your style, and emphasizing it.

Pam Harris said...

I do feel branding is important as an author, but it gets tricky when you want to experiment with different genre. I guess that's why pen names are helpful. :)

Erinn said...

I think branding is important but HARD and you don't want to close yourself off to new things because it wouldn't fit the mold you created.

Green Day came out with a TOTALLY different sounding ablum a few years ago, and instead of calling it a Green Day Album, they invented a new band, Foxborrow Hot Tubs. The album did ok, Green Day never lost any fans. It was a win win.

I think the same thing can be done with writing.

Angela Felsted said...

I love Scooby Doo, and you're right. The theme song rocks. I also like the inspector gadget theme song. I so miss that show.

Susan said...

Great post, Holly! (Side note: I LOVE Scooby Doo. Used to be a little obsessive growing up...)

I think author branding IS important. And I think you (and the commenters) hit the nail on the head saying it's about staying true to your style. For me, that's fantasy YA with strong heroines... Yours is to, I guess. ;)

I want readers to know when they pick up my book they'll get something fantastical with a kick-butt MC.

And man, I love Daphne's outfit. I gotta get me one of those...

Holly Dodson said...

Susan, yep. That's exactly what you want...a reader to know before they ever pick up your second book that they can expect those things.

I think that's why people like Meg Cabot and Sarah Dessen do so well. The books they write may be totally different from one to the next, but there's still that definitive style that links them together.

Pam, I'm a fan of pen names. ;)

Anonymous said...

This is great and it's so funny b/c I'm totally in a Scooby-Doo phase right now. Got sick over New Years and they had the "what's new Scooby Doo" marathon on Cartoon Network or something and now I see the DVDs for 5 bucks at Walmart all the time and get them and... I digress.

But... you're right in that branding is alot like a flavor, so that no matter what genre you're writing in, or even nonfiction versus fiction, you do have a kind of flavor or spice that readers can get to know over time.

For me, it tends to be humor. Whether I'm doing zombies or vampires, it's kind of telling a decent story while still stopping every now and again and remarking on how ridiculous things have gotten.

Whatever, the point is, it has to feel right for you or it won't feel authentic as a brand. Also, it will be hard to repeat if it doesn't feel comfortable or starts to feel too much like "work." Great post and thanks for listening...

Yahong said...

Dark chocolate truffles -- GREAT analogy! :D
Being consistent can mean a brand, but I agree that the style is important. Scooby-Doo does make it seem less intimidating :)

Alicia Gregoire said...

Confession: I don't think about branding. *runs and hides*

Misha said...

I'm all for creating brands, however, I see something more like divisions in my future.

Have too many different voices to push them into one shape.