Personal Branding @2.0| Here’s Johnny…!

The Power Behind Author Recognition 

In 1957 a man named Dick Clark became the branded ‘America’s Oldest Teenager‘, when millions of other teenager’s across the Western world sat before their black and white televisions and dreamed of becoming the next lucky boy or girl picked to appear on a newly televised program called American Bandstand.

In 1962 the world branded a radio talk show host named Johnny Carson , King of Late Night Television when they heard Ed McMahon say, Heeeere’s Johnny!

In 1963 a black Baptist Minister named Martin Luther King Jr, stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, gave a speech entitled “I Have A Dream“, and forever branded the battle against racial bigotry by the profile of his face.

Time has been bookmarked by individual’s whose names have become the brand by which we recognize and interpret mankind’s cultural evolution.

Individuals such as Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Constantine, Martin Luther, Joan of Arc, Albert Einstein, Vladimir Lenin, Harriet Tubman, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, Amelia Earhart, Gandhi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Nelson Mandela, Madeleine Albright, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline,  Neil Armstrong, Princes Diana, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are just a handful of people whose names have become the branding for government, religion, quantum physics, social revolution, genocide, war, peace, music, pulp-fiction reality, PC’s and metadata @4GSpeed technology.

Culture is being redefined by people who are willing to step out of line, leave the familiarity of the common and brand themselves by the nations they ruled, the social injustice they challenged or the dreams they dreamed. The result is, when you and I talk about democracy, religious persecution, social injustice and the what if possibilities, these are the branded names at the forefront of our thoughts.

In my post Personal Branding @1.0 | The Power of a Name, I talked about growing up in the 60′ and 70’s and recognizing early on how much power there was, both in fact and fiction, within a name.

Names have the power to draw our attention to individuals who have become synonymous with social irresponsibility, fashion, automobiles and photography. By drawing us to themselves, they have the power to influence how we perceive the institution, product or social media they claim to represent.

In today’s audio-visual-techno world, ideals, objects and futures are bought and sold within the moment by moment context of a branded face or name.

With literally tens of thousands of new books being written by bushy-tailed, hopeful new authors per year, the competition for recognition is fierce. You might even say it verges on the nearly impossible.

According to C. Hope Clark, author, freelance writer and manager of Funds for Writer’s (a weekly newsletter service for writers), becoming an established author is not for the faint of heart. It takes tons of sweat equity to perfect your craft, persistence to see it published, and tenacity to get it in front of reader’s and kept it there.

So why is Personal Branding so important to emerging authors?

In her article, The Basics of Author Branding, Theresa Meyer says, Strong brands bring in dollars. A strong brand will influence buyers to consider purchasing you first when they have only limited money to buy their books. It will create a loyal readership that will bring you bigger contracts from publishers. It will help you win awards because you stand out clearly against other brands in the same market space. It will make what your story is about nearly meaningless.

Did you catch that last line? Let me post it again, Strong brands…will make what your story is about nearly meaningless.

According to Meyer, once an author has developed a strong, recognizable name or brand, their staying power within the literary world is no longer about the books they write, but about the author themselves.

Whoa there! What does she mean it’s no longer about the books? How can any sane, rational person even remotely imply that an established authors staying power is about the brand and not the book?

Is she nuts?

Made my head tilt sideways too.

Until I gave it some thought, which eventually led me to agree.

How many of us can hardly wait for our favorite authors to finish the next promised book? I don’t know about you, but as soon as I get wind of the next Terry Brooks novel or Janet Evanovitch’s, Stephanie Plum escapade, my psych immediately shifts into countdown mode.

And when I finally do get my hands on it, I don’t even bother to look at the inside jacket or read the back cover. All I know is that it’s written by my favorite author and that’s good enough for me.

Sold! Do you take Visa or AMEX?

So what is it that makes these authors so outstanding that reader’s like you and I will forgo Starbucks for the next two weeks just so we can afford to claim their newest book as our own? How have they managed to create such a sense of anticipation in us that we find ourselves practically holding our breath?

Meyer’s calls it, ’emotional Velcro’; that certain something that causes an author to be able to tap into the emotions of their reader’s and makes them stick to the author like glue; a subliminal tractor beam of imagination which promises to deliver untold hours of endorphin to our thirsty souls.

But how? How did they manage to ‘tag’ our souls and win our loyalty without so much as a handshake or gift card to Starbucks?

Via the hundreds of hours they have spent building and developing their Personal Brand. An intentional strategy to develop connections within the writing world by participating in forums, contributing in the comment portion of their favorite blogger/writer and developing relational interaction with the guru’s of the craft.

These Branded faces of mystery, suspense, murder, horror, fantasy, romance and mayhem built their own Personal Brand by investing time within the social framework of sites like Twitter, Face Book and Google +,  in order to meet new people and update those they already know.

They built their Personal Branding the same way they built the framework for their book or novel; by deciding the path they wanted to take, imagining the image they wanted to portray, and investing the time and energy it takes to project that face to the world.

Yet the strategy for branding themselves didn’t actually wait until after they had written their first article, first book or set up their first blog or website. No, the real starting point had its origins at a much more grass-roots level than mere articles, books or blogs.

 Personal Branding actually begins at that point of chaos where the newly emerging us is a lot like creation itself; an idea is being dreamed, a millennia is spent thinking about it, a plan is finally made and then we start gathering the materials for our own personal  assembly.

Next time we’ll look at the grass-roots of how to develop an intentional strategy for Branding You!

In the mean time, start the conversation by sharing what you are doing to build your own Personal Brand? Tell us about some of the successes, as well as pitfalls you’ve experienced?

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer



  1. Pingback: On Blogging – An Interview of Some Wonderful Writers Who Blog {part two} « unwrittenlands
  2. Areta · July 12, 2012

    thanks for the blog, doing well keep posting such stuffs.

    • SSpjut · July 12, 2012

      Thanks Areta.
      I’m enjoying the journey.:)

  3. · July 12, 2012

    Individuals usually question these kinds of stuff and also throughout the longer term, I may recommend them people this url as it contains all of the solutions.

    • SSpjut · July 12, 2012

      Thanks. Whether people want to admit it or not, everything we post on the internet, on FB etc become part of our Personal Branding. The events of our lives and how they highlight them too. the good news is that we can take control of a good percentage that and as author’s start strategically developing that.

  4. EEOrme · June 29, 2012

    Shawn this is brilliant. I remember discussing this briefly with you but wow. You really nailed it in this blog. I’ve been talking with other aspiring writers who have built beautiful web sites yet have not included their own bio or photo. I tell them again and again what you told me. Sell “YOU” and your product will sell itself. Bless you for your insight and clarity.

    • Shawn Spjut (@ShawnSpjut) · June 30, 2012

      It’s interesting how the whole image thing has shifted – but hasn’t. It’s always been there, just never in a way that affected us personally. I remember the first time I heard about online branding six years ago, and how it was being used to build an online profile for potential employer’s to look at. At the time I thought they were nuts. Now look. Almost everything we do involves PB.

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