Friday, June 8, 2012

So What If My Brand Isn't Unique?

I don't have an artistic bone in my body.  No matter how bored I got, I never doodled, because even my stick figures came out wrong.  So when it came to redesigning my web page, I panicked.  Followed immediately by a lengthy search for a designer.  But no matter how talented the designer, I still had to give them a framework from which to begin.  Sheer torture!

But the point of this story is that my very talented designer found a great photo, that really embodied my brand. contained a purple tie.  Now, there was a lot more to it than just the tie  The tie was not the focal point.  But I got scared.  I didn't want anybody to think the following:
  • that I was trying to ride the coattails of E.L. James;
  • that I was using a cheap marketing ploy to attract readers of 50 Shades;
  • or that my book contains any hint of erotica/BDSM.  The genre itself is highly entertaining, but my book simply doesn't have any, and I'd hate for readers to buy it under that premise and be disappointed.
So I told my designer to go back to the drawing board, after stipulating that the image was perfect, and oh, could she find another just as perfect, but without a tie?  It took me less than twelve hours to realize how stupid, how knee-jerk my reaction had been.  And I wasted an entire night of my designer's life, as she frantically scoured for more images. 

Well, I came to my senses.  We're keeping the perfect image with the tie.  So what if my brand isn't 100% unique?  At some point, somebody else is going to have a man's necktie on their cover.  The image might be pretty darn evocative of a certain NYT bestseller today, but every trend runs its course.  Kristan Higgans has adorable dogs on all of her covers.  Does that mean that no other author should ever use a dog in their branding?  Of course not.  Did I over-react?  You bet. 

There's an old saying that there are only seven original story ideas.  Clearly, there's going to be some overlap.  So I'm sticking with my branding idea, purple tie and all.  And I hope this lesson I learned the hard way proves valuable to somebody out there.  Don't worry about everyone else - just worry about making your book, your website, your marketing, the very best it can be.


  1. The photo I have on the cover of my book - since I published it - I have now seen on 6 or 7 different books plus a website. Guess my cover artist had a good idea.
    But it now makes my book less unique - oh well.
    Good post.

  2. That's a great attitude, Christi! Can't wait to see the new site when it's all done. :)

  3. You don't have to be unique, just specific! As for books, nobody wants unique books, they just want to read what everybody else is reading and/or something "good." I'm always altering my stuff to make it less unique anyways, so it'll sell better. It's a strange paradox ...

  4. I forget, are we supposed to be riding the coattails of 50 shades? Or trying to differentiate ourselves?

    And don't you wish you had never heard the word "branding?"

    Thanks - this post made me smile!

  5. I'm sure that purple tie and all, your website will be a reflection of you! And that's all that matters at the end of the day.
    Good luck and enjoy the ride.

  6. I am a HUGE fan of yours and I can't wait for your next release. And go you!