Please help me welcome Allie Pleiter back to RU. Allie’s going to walk us through the process she took to become a branding believer. Be sure to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Allie’s newest release–Falling for the Fireman.
Good morning, Allie!
I hated branding.
There, I said it. Proclaimed my distaste for the latest writing buzzword, that thing everyone’s looking for in new, established, and aspiring authors. Branding. To me there wasn’t much difference between this branding/platform stuff and the form of branding that involves searing cow backsides with a hot iron. “I’m nobody’s cattle,” I told myself. “ I don’t do fads.” I didn’t read Harry Potter until the third book came out and I still haven’t seen the last Twilight movie or been on the Atkins diet.
After the fifth branding workshop landed in my face, I relented that it might be worth looking into. Even for an eclectic, multi-faceted, entrepreneur-type writer like myself. Truth be told, I feared being boxed in. Forced to do one thing–in the “do only one thing but do it better than anyone else” school of thought–when that’s never been who I am.
Ah, but there’s the key. Once I recognized that true branding involves figuring out who I am, what my passions are and why they stretch across these many things I do, well, then things got interesting. Maybe, just maybe, if I could figure out the basic essence of my creative persona, then I might find focus. I might not be temped by the next shiny thing that came along but make a goal-minded business decision instead. I could figure out why fans of one book might like another, or why women who heard me speak on parenting might pick up one of my novels after the presentation. Simply put, my brand isn’t that far from my artistic essence. My mission statement. My core values. This was a process I could get behind.
Having been a consultant in a former life, I hired someone to walk me through the process. She asked lots of good questions and I talked a lot off the top of my head and with as much honesty as I could stand. Then she would compile what she was hearing, formulate some language and concepts, and I’d respond both on the phone and in writing. Essentially, we kicked around a lot of ideas based on a lot of diverse input. Here are some of the things I did:
- asked four people who knew me well to list 10 positive descriptive words about me
- read the reviews of three writers I wanted to be like and looked for common strengths
- listed TV and film characters I adore and looked for common attributes
- collected positive reviews and reader letters and hunted for common themes
I did lots more, but it wasn’t long before a common element emerged: adventure.
My reaction was immediate. It hit me with a charge of energy that everything I did touched on the concept of adventure. Not the far away go-on-safari-in-darkest-Africa adventure, but the adventure of everyday life, of the things right in front of your face, of launching from where you are. My skin actually tingled when we finally hit on “The Adventure starts right where you are.” THAT’s me. That’s what I stand for, the lesson I hope to teach, the energy that gets me up before the coffeemaker’s on.
With my core concept firmly in mind, I could wander across all the elements of my career–parenting non fiction, inspirational fiction, speaking, my DestiKNITions knitting and travel blog, just about anything I did–and see the adventure tie-in. Suddenly, I could visualize the hub holding all the wheel spokes together. Planning, working, speaking, even plotting books became a function of asking “where’s the adventure?”
I’d found my focus, and I hadn’t pigeonholed my varied muse one bit. Voila!
Being a highly visual person, the next step for me was to see what that brand looked like. I knew from my earlier pondering that because my career is so diverse, a graphic unity would help pull things together in a cohesive whole. Googling “adventure” and hitting the “images” button was a start, but needed to go farther.
- made a list of the strongest words we’d gathered so far in the process
- made a list of twenty verbs that felt like adventure to me
- brainstormed all the objects that said “adventure” to me and others I polled
- I walked into a fabric store and selected three fabrics that appealed to me
This, along with my earlier discoveries, gave the graphics designer I hired a whole lot to work with. When she hit on the concept of a compass, we all knew we were onto something. After all, a compass implies adventure in many directions but also journey and movement toward a goal, all kinds of good stuff that made my blood sing. Thus, the Allie Pleiter logo was born. Everything I do now bears this mark, or elements of it. It’s literally my brand, and my eyes light up every time I see it because it speaks to the very core of who I am and the mark I want to leave on the world.
It even makes marketing easier. I’m no longer introducing you to Allie Pleiter (which feels a bit big-headed even for an ego my size). I’m introducing you to the adventure that starts right where you are–and I get wildly, unreasonably excited about that.
Branding? Absolutely. But it goes so much deeper, and that’s the wonder of it. If you’re leery of the whole branding buzz, try to reframe it the way I did and watch what happens. Or if you chapter or conference is looking for a speaker on branding…well, you know how much I love a good adventure!
What do you think about Allie’s beautiful new logo? Have you come across any other authors who have branded themselves well? Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Allie’s newest release–Falling for the Fireman.
On Friday, author Tracy Sumner joins us to explain her wacky editing process and how authors need to find the way that works best for them. And not apologize about their method to producing a clean manuscript!
FALLING FOR THE FIREMAN
Harlequin Love Inspired February 2012
Back Cover Teaser:
There’s something achingly familiar about the look in fire marshal Chad Owens’s eyes. Widowed mom Jeannie Nelworth knows firsthand what it is: loss, hurt and yes—bitterness. Ever since the fire that changed their lives, Jeannie’s young son has borne that same look, pushing everyone away. So she’s grateful when Chad tries to get through to the boy with the help of his trusty fire station dog.
But the man who’s all about safety and prevention keeps himself protected—from loving and losing again. Seems as if Jeannie will have to add his kind, guarded heart to her rebuilding efforts.
Jeannie Nelworth had the faucet handle in a death grip. It wasn’t that the women’s bathroom of The Stew Pot restaurant was a tense place, she just hadn’t expected her nerve to go out from under her quite so completely tonight. Somewhere between picking up name tags and the Merchant Association’s first agenda item, she’d had to bolt into the ladies room to pull herself together. She found the bright red wallpaper amusing before, but now it felt loud and suffocating.
Abby Reed was predictably right behind her. A best friend can usually see through faked calm, and Abby was as intuitive as they come.
“I’m okay,” Jeannie lied the moment Abby pushed into the tiny room.
“You are not okay.” Abby reached behind and threw the door’s small deadbolt Jeannie had forgotten to latch. “I told Mary Hunnington not to ask you about postponing tonight’s presentation, that you’d say ‘go ahead’ when you shouldn’t have.”
“I like being at these dinners,” Jeanie forced a cheery tone, pulling her hand off the fixture to fuss with her long brown hair that didn’t need fussing. It was true; normally, she did enjoy the monthly gathering of businesspeople in town. The many shopkeepers, hotel owners, and restauranteurs that made up Gordon Falls were her family. Even the tourists were part of her life here. That’s why her sweet shop was loved…before.
“Besides,” she continued, “Nicky’d never forgive me for ruining his monthly video-game sleepover. Much as it kills me, that eighth-grade tornado loves a night away from his mom.”
Abby sighed and gave her the look half the other merchants had. She knew her colleagues cared for her, only now their warm but pitying looks made her feel simultaneously welcome and on display. “Really, there isn’t a soul here who would have blamed you if you missed this one. You’re the last person who needs to hear tips on holiday lighting and fire safety.”
Why bother waiting? Another thirty days wouldn’t change the fact that her candy store and home had burned down a few weeks ago. “If I stayed home, what would that solve?” To stay home was admitting defeat, and Jeannie liked to think of herself as the kind of woman who gave no quarter to tragedies like that. “Okay, it’s hard” she admitted, but even those three words felt too big, “but God is bigger than a burned building.”
“It’s not just a building, it was your home. And the home you had with Nicky. The home you had with Henry, God rest his soul. God is big, but that’s huge.”
* * *
An avid knitter, coffee junkie, and devoted chocoholic, Allie Pleiter writes both fiction and non-fiction. The enthusiastic but slightly untidy mother of two, Allie spends her days writing books, buying yarn, and finding new ways to avoid housework. Allie hails from Connecticut, moved to the midwest to attend Northwestern University, and currently lives outside Chicago, Illinois. The “dare from a friend” to begin writing has produced two parenting books, fourteen novels, and various national speaking engagements on faith, women’s issues, and writing. Visit her website at www.alliepleiter.com or her knitting blog at www.DestiKNITions.blogspot.com
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for Oct 25-29: Allie Pleiter, Laurie London, Jessica Inclan & B.A. Binns
- The Art of Writing a Continuity by Allie Pleiter
- The Care and Feeding of Editors
- Building Your Brand
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for April 19-23: Marjorie M. Liu, Kelsey Browning, Jeannie Ruesch & Margie Lawson