But first, a theory on branding:
The Internet, paragon of a revolution, the digital revolution, itself the beginning of a new epoch of human civilization. From online videos to on demand television, to interactive entertainment featuring photorealistic graphics and films sporting mind boggling visual effects, the digital revolution has altered entertainment. With the advent of smartphones and tablets, and innovative social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, with the advent and increasing popularity of ebooks and print on demand services, digital technology has also irrevocably changed the landscape of the written word.
It is now easier to publish a book—as an ebook or a hard copy—than ever before. In a sense, the digital epoch democratized the written word. Literary agents and New York publishing houses are no longer the sole gatekeepers; now, with the help of digital technology, the barbarians, to evoke a cliché, are at the gates, and in many cases have stormed it.
Anyone so inclined can now publish a book, and many do: by some accounts, more than 400,000 books are published annually, many by writers without agents or publishers or the help of what was once considered traditional PR and marketing firms.
But with so many people producing so many books, how does a writer distinguish him- or herself?
Branding—a concept you cannot escape, and the key to setting yourself apart from dozens, if not hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of writers.
When we hear the word “Branding,” we might imagine Coca Cola or Apple or another corporation whose logos and slogans, images and products permeate our culture. And we wouldn’t be wrong. In a sense, to brand is to imprint a specific company or property or product onto the brains of a consumer.
Successful branding seems to require more than a few conditions, which can be reduced to a single condition: create and reinforce a positive association with the brand. In addition to this condition, to develop a successful brand, you must strive to create positive first impressions, what psychologists refer to as the Anchor Effect.
Briefly, the Anchor Effect works as follows: someone interprets information about any given thing and person relative to their initial impression of that thing or person—i.e., the initial impression serves as the anchor around which other information is attached.
Combined with two psychological components, perceptual expectancy and confirmation bias, the Anchor Effect can have a powerful influence over how a person perceives a thing or a person. If your initial impression of someone is positive, then you will probably perceive actions or cherry pick information, all non-consciously, which reinforces your initial impression.
A positive initial impression is key to developing a successful brand. If a person initially experiences a brand positively, then he or she might non-consciously compile information which reinforces that initial positive experience.
This doesn’t exonerate a brand from responsible action, however. As someone developing a brand, it’s your responsibility to minimize possible negative actions and maximize, and emphasize, positive actions. If the negative actions are few, then those who have positive perceptions of the brand will probably overlook, or justify or diminish, the negative actions.
So there’s a summary of my theory.
In the next installment, I, the Failed Writer, who’s trying to eliminate the adjective, “failed,” will chronicle my adventures as I attempt to tease out algorithms and procedures for developing a brand, and my experiences as I puts them into action.