I Am Not a Brand

I have a Facebook page and a website. I sometimes keep people informed about what I’m doing. I have thought about my color scheme. I have asked for marketing advice. Yes, there is a whiff of “brand” here.

But I am not actually a brand.

I don’t Tweet. Occasionally I blog—about a lot of different things.

What I do is talk to my friends and family, face to face or via email, with great uncertainty about what’s happening (or not happening) with publishing my books.

I have zero sound bites memorized. I have zero thirty-second elevator speeches. I have zero media training. And when people ask me about my books, I have zero clue what to say.

Because I’m not a brand.

There are no coffee cups with the titles of my books on them, no t-shirts, no key chains, no beach towels. No one is going to associate my name with something you’d find in a swag bag—yet. And if ever there was a coffee cup with my name on it, it’s just a coffee cup…with my name on it.

I don’t have a team or an entourage, a glam squad or a publicist. I don’t have a perfume or a line of bottled water. No one is paying me to wear their clothes and vice versa. I don’t have an acceptance speech prepared. I don’t have to thank the divine in public. I never, ever want to be on the cover of a magazine that uses candy-colored lettering to announce something scurrilous about me, and then go check out my sales report to see if anything has changed.

Because I’m not a brand.

I don’t wake up in the morning and make sure that everything I say, do, wear, or think is in line with Me—the capital-letter Me that wears make-up at all times and knows my good side in photos and has a winning smile and hands out business cards at every opportunity.

And I have actually never followed the advice of anyone who talks about me or my writing in terms of “my brand.” Perhaps I am short-changing myself; perhaps I’m not. Perhaps every marketing and PR person I know is getting ready to string me up by the ankles.

But I don’t care. Why? Because I am not a brand.

I’m a writer. And foremost, a human being.

And when did we, as a species—the bundles of radiant atomic energy that each of us are, totally unique from each other in form and character, but all intrinsically connected at our deepest level—agree to not only aspire to, but make sure that our passions and ourselves embody the kind of contrived, cereal-boxed, professional-logoed, air-brushed identities with which companies use to boost profits?

This is not who we are.

Business is business, yes. Marketing is a practical function, of course. Everyone wants to look good in pictures. And I want people to read my stuff.

But I—as a creative individual—am not a brand, and neither are you.

Remember that the next time you read a book (watch a movie, listen to a song, gaze upon a painting), simply because it speaks to your soul in that elusive yet insistent language of which no packaging, tagline, or story board can ever capture. I promise you: it’s not “the brand” doing the talking…

7 thoughts on “I Am Not a Brand

  1. Wow!! You really touched the artist in me. The rawness of creating and insisting on reality. I absolutely love your work!!

  2. Hallo, Hallo Ms. Mininger,

    I whole-heartedly concur with this ENTIRE POST! Ironically or no, what I cannot fathom is why a writer is being forced into marketing their entire writing life into a particular ‘box’ which therefore becomes their ‘brand’ or signature (I’m always the old school traditionalist in the room!) of style. What bothers me a bit is that the book industry has lost sight of a few things — for starters, writers always write their heart out of their pen! They write what becomes so inherently truthful in their own heart and soul, that the pen spilts out the words, creates the world by which their characters breathe, and stitch into their characters a living tome of spirit as to compel us forward, backward, and through their lifepath!

    I do tweet and in the beginning it was because I was asked to tweet by a publicist, however, I never make a choice based solely on a suggestion; no matter who is asking it of me. I weighed it heavily in my mind because I was the ‘very last!’ of my friends who would ever even consider having a social media presence. Twitter was the platform portal that surprised me; I joined in November of 2013 as an experiment. See if I could even sort it out – taking to tweeting like a duck takes to water & swimming — properly gobsmacked me! How could I have found a ‘second niche’!? As this is my season to be a book blogger not to be a writer settling into their creative pursuits in publishing. Yet. Here is the remarkable thing I learnt about tweeting & Twitter: if your bookish & geeky it is a brilliant way to communicate! Twitter breaks down the barriers — readers can engage with writers, writers engage with book bloggers, and everyone interconnected to the book industry in one way, shape, or form can have the ability to converse with each other! I love participating in book blogosphere events which rely on ‘tweeting parties’ and my favourite thing to do during the week is ‘duck-in’ on tweetchats! I learnt a heap through them, esp on behalf of #StoryDam, because I would not be able to create all the lovely badges for my blog (most of them; some are made by others, I think everyone can sort out which though!) via Canva and of course they inspired me to start hosting my #ChocLitSaturdays tweetchat! (it is a chat based on a blog feature as I am a book reviewer for ChocLitUK — bit of a story in this of course!) *I need to continue this thought on my blog this month,…

    What I am saying, (albeit long way round!) is that writers know what works for them! Whether we are embracing new technological gadgets, programmes, or social interactive communication portals — we know who we are at the core of our beings. We know what works for us and what doesn’t. I personally think that if you do not want to tweet or hop on Facebook, then do not do either! If you prefer to blog and participate in the book blogosphere (the roots of my own joy!), do that! Embrace what works for you! Join only what makes your own heart giddy! Afterall, we’re living our own life, walking our own path, and in the the end, we have to be alright with the choices we make. Remember that Bon Jovi song? (“It’s My Life” – seriously it should be our anthem!)

    On a personal note, my heart saddened when I realised an aspiring author landed a book contract. Normally I would be overjoyed, until I learnt that part of the contract was going to infringe on what she could or could not explore in fiction. She was locked in due to the one book she pitched and could not side step outside that ‘genre’ box. I am not sure what the answer is overall — but at some point, I do hope writers can always find the freedom to write the stories which speak to their heart AND approach how they want to be in the public eye on their own terms. Or maybe I was just destined like you to be one of the ‘rebels with a cause’,… 🙂

    PS: On a completely different subject: did you know that I seriously dream of acquiring retrofitted vintage typewriters and that I seriously want to write all future drafts and final copies of my own writings by typewriter!? I made that remarkable discovery whilst hauling around my notebook (computer) during Nanowrimo 2008 — the one year I took a dive into the unknown gave me back so much as a writer and as a woman, that I dare not even believe I have scratched the surface of it’s full measure of blessings!

    — This post & one other (We Need A Montage) solidified the fact I am following you now! Rock on!

    • Thank you for your enthusiastic responses to my posts. And you are absolutely right: writers know what works for them (once we give ourselves permission to “know” anything at all). May you find yourself a vintage typewriter and produce a masterpiece. 🙂

  3. I love this!!! I wanted to know and get an idea of what to blog about. You just cleared that up for me. Thank you so much. I wrote my first book. I’m blogging to get myself known out there to the public. I hope that we can leave each other message from time to time. God bless!

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