Monday, February 24, 2020

Brand is more than a word

Creating a statement that represents your author brand

Looking back at my first post about branding, I identified the brand for my golden retriever mysteries as “dogs.”

That doesn’t seem enough.

From Amazon or other e-retailer
For my golden retriever mysteries, I often use the tagline “Do you think a dog can solve a mystery? Rochester can!”

But that’s a tagline for that series, not a statement of my author brand.

When I promote the series on dog-friendly sites, I often use the statement, “Do you like dogs and mysteries? If you do, I hope you’ll check out my golden retriever mystery series. Ten books and the dog never gets hurt!”

That’s getting closer. The idea behind that second statement came from a reader, who emailed me to say one thing she loved about my series was that she never had to worry about Rochester getting harmed.

That’s a big thing for readers who love animals—they’re willing to see adults and children killed and maimed, but don’t touch the pets! So I try to emphasize that.

But back to brand. Dogs appear in most of my mystery and adventure books. Rochester is first, of course; he’s the co-star in his series, a lively golden retriever with a nose for crime.

From Amazon or other e-retailers
There’s Roby in the Mahu series, a golden retriever. Roby alerted his family that their house was on fire, allowing them all to escape. 

But they couldn’t take the dog with them to their new temporary housing, so Kimo’s fire investigator partner Mike takes the dog in. 

He’s just a pet, though he serves a valid role in the series. He is the first addition to their household, showing them both that they can love, and eventually opening their hearts to a foster son.

Then there’s Hayam, the lion-faced dog who appears in the first pages of Three Wrong Turns in the Desert, the first of my Have Body, Will Guard series. I don’t know where he came from—he just showed up. 

Amazon or other e-retailers
Aidan Greene has been kicked to the curb by his long-time partner and fled halfway across the world to Tunis. Hayam showed up, I think, to tell Aidan that he wasn’t really alone in the world.

Hayam is an independent dog, as I imagined he would be, living on the streets of a third-world country. When Aidan returns to Tunis with his new love, Liam, Hayam is waiting for him once again, and Liam christens the dog with her name, which he says means deliriously in love in Arabic.

So these three dogs all serve important purposes in their novels. How can I knit those ideas into a canine-centric brand?

Crime-solving canines only applies to Rochester, not to Hayam or Roby. But that might be a nice line to put onto my golden retriever mysteries website. I like the alliteration, because I think that makes the tagline more memorable.

Crime and courtship with canine companions makes every book sound like romance. And honestly, romance is the one genre where I generally don’t have canine characters.

I’m thinking of Canine companions join the fun in adventure and mystery fiction. What do you think? Any other ideas?


Theresa de Valence said...

I don't have a good idea, Neil, but here's my reaction to the tagline "Canine companions join the fun in adventure and mystery fiction"
It's too wordy.
- fun and adventure are too close in meaning to be so close together in the sentence, my brain lumps the words together; even "join the fun in mystery and adventure fiction" is better;
- companions sounds awkward to me.

Adventuresome protagonists with lovable canine sidekicks?

Thank you for your stories.

Neil Plakcy said...

Thanks, Theresa. You're right-- that top tagline is too long and wordy. I really like your idea about lovable canine sidekicks.

And thanks to Del Tinsley, who emailed me a suggestion about Man's Best Friend, which I might tweak to Man's Best Detective...

Kate said...

"Go for the Golden"
It might not work in your brand line, but you could embroider a sampler to hang in your office.

Lala Land said...

Oh, I like go for the golden! Like the idea of keeping the words down when branding.

I'm in another quandary. My suspense/thriller will always come first, but I've deviated into a very different genre with magical suspense.
My web designer got the two sides of me. That's a start for me.
Branding in two different genres is new to me. I have a lot to learn!
Your covers are terrific, btw!

Neil Plakcy said...

Great idea, Kate! I have been hearing other authors on podcasts speak about merchandise, and how it can be another stream of revenue. I love the idea of a cute golden retriever on a mug with "Go for the Golden!" with it. And then my website on the back side.

If I only had the time to focus on it!

Lala, thanks for the kind comments on the covers. My cover designer is one half of the talented PJ Parrish sisters, and she does a great job for me.

Is there anything that connects your two genres-- do both feature strong women, for example? If you can find some common element that will help you in promotion.

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