Friday, March 20, 2009

Creating Brands that Stick

Today we're continuing our posts on branding and slogans, and I thought I would get the creative juices flowing with some examples, since there seems to be much anxiety and wailing and gnashing of teeth involved in the process (mine included). Now, don't peek, but try to guess which products these slogans represent without looking at the answers below:

Plop, plop, fizz, fizz, oh what a relief it is
The San Francisco treat
Breakfast of Champions
You're gonna like the way you look
The quicker picker upper
Reach out and touch someone
Finger lickin' good
Betcha can't eat just one
It takes a licking, and keeps on ticking
You're in good hands with _______
It's _____ time
The ultimate driving machine
Just do it
It's the real thing
Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don't
A ______ moment

I was struck by the use of strong verbs and the references to the senses (mostly taste) used to make the above slogans or brands memorable. People who are successful in business today often create personal branding statements to include in resumes and they use key verbs. Examples of strong key verbs would be: created, established, organized, revitalized, championed, dominated, leveraged. These are strong verbs rather than passive ones, such as helped, assisted, and maintained. Some slogans are easier to remember because they rhyme, or are just plain fun to say (quicker picker upper!). It's even more memorable if it's put to music. Remember the jingle J - e -l - l - o? Some incorporate the name of the product, and some leave you with a visual instead.

It's probably easier to come up with a slogan or brand for a tangible product rather than an idea, but there are some great examples here. You probably know the last one - 'A Kodak moment.' Kodak is referring to the experience created with their product, not the camera itself. And you probably recognize 'reach out and touch someone.' It humanizes their electronics by recalling friends and family from whom you are separated. These engage the senses and emotions.

Once you have decided on a brand or slogan, it is important to carry the ideas through into the design of your website. Check out these authors' brands and visit their websites:
Rugged faith, radiant God - Karen Ball
Tales of wonder - Marlo Schalesky
Catch the wave - Julie Carobini
Sharing His heart, one page at a time - Pamela Dowd
Honor the past, embrace the future - Tricia Goyer
Seatbelt suspense - Brandilyn Collins (one look at her head shot and you know what she writes!)
And also non-fiction - "Mother of 12 lives to write about it" - Barbara Curtis

Some of the brands are very specific to a genre or topic and some allow for a more liberal interpretation. What are the concrete things or ideas about your writing that could be included in a slogan or brand?

(answers: Alka Seltzer, Rice-a-Roni, Wheaties, The Men's Wearhouse, Bounty, AT&T, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Lays, Timex, Allstate, Miller (time), BMW, Hewlett Packard, Nike, Coca Cola, Almond Joy/Mounds, Kodak)


Anonymous said...

As I've pondered the topic this week, it seems to me the best brands for authors are those that come naturally out of the body of their work. For example, I've seen Anne Tyler characterized as writing fiction that explores family relationships. And Rosamunde Pilcher's brand might be rich English/Scottish stories and sagas. It seems like a brand that's manufactured early in an author's career, could be limiting--especially if a writer has a long career. And I'm sure we all hope to continually develop as writers.

Since I've practiced as a registered nurse for 23 years, both my unpubbed projects have a nurse as the main character. My professional career has given my a unique perspective of the medical world, but also of human nature and its struggles. Working with oncology patients for the last 19 years, in particular, has taught me a lot about life--and death. The idea I have simmering for my next project has a medical/psychological issue, but I’m not seeing a nurse in it at all.

I've enjoyed the discussion this week. My comments are for the sake of discussion only, and in no way meant to be critical of anybody.

Anonymous said...

It's tricky, settling on a brand wide enough to allow 'wiggle' room, narrow enough to define, not cutesy yet intriguing.

Bonnie Grove said...

Melinda: I agree, a brand develops over time. I'm learning that I am in control of how fast my life goes. Meaning, I am the one who decides if I live my life at breakneck speed, or if I choose a slower pace. As the writing life envelops me, I believe this more firmly. I must take thet time required to do the job right. All the jobs - God isn't rushed, and I don't need to be either.

Susan: It is tricky. And, I suspect there is no one "right answer", either.

And, because Sharon said she is missing Steve's word verifications (Steve is knee deep in pastoring and organizing my life, but will be back commenting as soon as possible) here is one:
ouroof: where the dog threw the frizbee.

Laura J. Davis said...

Since we have been talking about branding I thought I would give you a site to go to in case you can't think of anything. I had a hoot with this last night, but it did help me come up with something for one of my blog sites.

Kathleen Popa said...

Melinda, I agree that the author's true brand will arise from a body of work. I couldn't tell you what Neil Gaiman's slogan is, but I know what he writes, and perhaps that's all that matters.

It occurs to me, Susan, that the best way to get to that "I know what she writes" place is to produce material that distinctly reflects one writer and no other. That means we have to be radically, uniquely ourselves.

Am I writing a plug for Bonnie's book, Your Best You?

Laura, I had fun with your sloganizer. I put in my name and got, "I believe in Kathleen Popa." Oh dear. I tried again and got "Kathleen Popa? You bet!"

Decided I'd try another word, like "story." I got "I trust story." Not bad.

I tried "wonder," and got "For the love of wonder."

Bonnie Grove said...

I got: "Bonnie Grove is Good for You."
Oh if they only knew!

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Laura, I had so much fun with that slogan website you posted. I entered the words 'fiction' 'God' and 'authentic' and got "I'd quit smoking with fiction God authentic"! I think it just might be a good brain storming tool - it's come up with more practical words that I never thought of using.

Bonnie Grove said...

Hey Debbie, that's how I quit smoking too!!