Thursday, September 17, 2015

How to Brand Yourself Across the Board

how to brandWithout a doubt, the first impression anyone has with your project is the most critical moment leading to either success or failure. Those primary milliseconds imprint opinion, image, and years of preconceived notions that then become the totality of what they are interacting with. Knowing how to brand is significant - as the first impression suggests, your newly found audience does not have the depth of comprehension with your project that you have, and this makes the mind uncomfortable. In order to fill in the gaps and make sense of the input, a listener, reader, or viewer- anyone interacting in that case, develops a sense of comprehension.

Without knowing how this instantaneous product branding works, and without professional guidance, it can be a crap shoot- your audience will associate either negative images to fill those gaps, or place vaguely rendered positive images in place that will soon be discredited and devalue the audience's experience.

To say it simply, your product branding is more than ordering a free set of business cards from VistaPrint.

Taking a step toward a professional brand means working with a dedicated team - and we at Spotlight Publicity can help.

mcdonald's floatYour personal branding should begin with a uniquely graphic and visual impact - hence, the label of 'brand.' Much like a cattle brand, the audience interacts instantaneously with a visual cue that identifies exactly what they are interacting with. There's information in that visual cue -

Think of the golden arches of McDonald's.

Think of the AA of American Airlines.

Think of the green sun image of BP Oil.

Each time someone sees those images, they immediately internalize all of their experiences with that brand. Folks who see a Coke sign subconsciously regurgitate emotions of good times, Americanisms, and taste. For your project, or better yet for you yourself, a visual impact is an important and significant investment in your success. With popularity and an increasing audience, having a personalized brand is key to gaining a larger audience.

branding m&msMars Inc. has enjoyed an unprecedented insertion of branding through M&Ms, where each individual candy carries not only the imprinted and styled M, but also the uniquely shaped ufo-disc shape that relegates branding to touch as well. Their branding has moved into the kinetic.

Pure genius.

For the entrepreneur starting out by investigating their own branding, the sky is the limit- but there's is so much to consider. What should the logo be centered around? Where is the long term theme? Where can it go? On what will the message be delivered?

how to brand yourself
Many images have incorporated clever packaging techniques into their branding. Take for example Lifesavers... multi-colored imaging on the packaging, but also minimalized into that 'tube' for brand recognition as well as portability.

How to brand outside of the box, literally, is another significant consideration.

TicTacs rely on their patented flip-top box, beer companies design cardboard silhouettes for portable shelving, Cosmo Kramer designed a coffee table book about coffee tables to actually be a miniature coffee table.

Yes he did.

Product branding is a science, taking in multiple elements in order to account for and become incorporated with the many subtle aspects of consumer interaction. The ways in which this is done is innumerable, and utilizing a professional team is a short investment that will pay off in spades as the years progress and your brand becomes more ingrained with an ever growing audience.

But what is the indicator that a product has been successfully branded? It is an intrinsic ideal- it becomes something that a consumer wants - desires even - to pick up and touch. And in kinesthetic marketing, this is the pure gold of a product. Research shows that a consumer who picks up and item before buying is more likely to purchase it the longer they hold it.

Imagine shopping at Target, and you pick up a shirt. You check the fit, the style, and the size and decide to think about it. At first contact you may not have completely made up your mind, but after a time, you have shifted your purchasing decision to buying it- simply because you have created value with it. It is still in your shopping basket- therefore, you are buying it. Of course, you may occasionally put stuff back based on overriding factors such as removing a personal reward or budget, but think about it- how many items can you identify after a shopping trip as being impulse buys?

To gain first contact, branding relies on eye-shelf placement, color, style- it is something that triggers deep needs in your subconscious.

Clever, yes?

But this approach is applied to large sales- for reaching audiences that are uninitiated into your product. The realist- or perhaps the idealist - believes that consumers interact based on a true desire to do so. Many will... and on the same note, many, many, many will not. They will interact because they are programmed to do so by social psychology, and you have tapped into this by creating a professional brand for yourself.

From an entrepreneurial approach, where the project is presented one-on-one with a new audience such as during a small book store reading, you have a unique opportunity to present your branding with a prepared edge. You yourself can deliver the image's message. You have an ability to infuse the essence of what have to share on a personal level- this also is an aspect of branding.

At Spotlight Publicity, we can assist you with your personal branding. Whether it's an investigation into the messaging on eco friendly packaging, an auditory indicator unique to your project, or a visual element to create that instantaneous connection, we can help.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Creation Motivation and the Artist at Work

hand upOne rule I share with my writing students as a motivation to continue creating strong texts is to never start with a question- which of course leads to a slew of Well, what about here? What about there? How about in this case?

Ah, the artist at work.

Rules are in place to help learn the process, I reply. Once you know what the rules are, then you can break them.

But do they listen?


Well, most of them don't listen. They start with a question.

They preamble with quotes and lines of poetry.

They insist on dropping in exclamation points instead of writing strong scenes.

They neglect to craft manageable paragraphs, vomiting 30 page treatises that resemble Jamaica Kincaid's 'Girl' (a master story of only one paragraph) without ennui, skill, or indentations.

My poor eyes have been worn away by these students...

artist at work
And I love them for it. Rules are made to be broken, and though young wordsmiths will attack the status quo before understanding fully where to launch a spearhead, they take the leap and do it time and time again simply from self-driven motivation.

With conceivably no payoff.

Authors, musicians, painters, sculptors, entrepreneurs all have the pie in the sky daydream - perhaps not to be rich and famous, but to be critically recognized. Most will not- it's still a numbers game. Many manuscripts and projects, limited resources. There is only so much room on a bookstore shelf, and those spaces are reserved for books that might make money.

gutenbergOnce the commercial applications of the printing press were realized and refined by Gutenberg in the 15th century, publishers crafted a profitable business formula- the author writes the book, gives it to the publishing company, and money is made. Granted, most went into the pockets of the publisher. The writer received something, but not much. Writing isn't a process to earn a living for the vast majority of writers, so there must something else.

There's that recognition motivation again.

With technology, the drive to publish has become more attainable- all an artist at work needs to do is format their text a certain way, and upload it to Amazon.

BAM- a writer is now a published author.

And once Mom buys a copy, they have become a professional writer. Next comes a heavy handed, pleading self-driven campaign to please, please, please buy my book. Today it's only .99. But wait, if you wait until tomorrow, I have a limited time offer of FREE.

While some will gain satisfaction from this self publishing opportunity, many will not. They hold a prize in their sights much greater, that an actual commercial publishing house will find value in their book and publish it on the author's behalf.

For artists in the visual realm, it is much the same. Anyone can rent a space and host their own gallery show. But the gallery that asks to display, and then offer sales support... that's the true mark of making it for many creators.

muscian open mic
For musicians, there is always the open mic night. For those who wish to be considered professionals, it's a paid gig - and perhaps, just maybe, the designation of house band. And a publishing deal where an actual musical publishing house provides contracts, copyright protection, studio space, and tour support. It doesn't need to be Sony, or even K-Tel, just as long as it's a for-profit organization that can reproduce audio for mass consumption.

Long shots. An odds game. A return on investment so low in the basement that college loans might well be paid back before a query letter receives a response.

Yet artists at work continue to create.

We continue to seek that recognition, that rush of sharing an idea for the first time. For an audience, even if it is a virtual support group in an online chat room who says simply, I liked it. Great job. Did you read mine yet?

We create because we can, because at the very core of our existence we crave recognition- we crave contact and intimacy and joy and adrenaline. We crave companionship and brotherhood and sisterhood and family. We create to give credence to our 'being there' as proof of why we deserve to be there. Here. In society, in a culture.

artist at work
We create because we want someone to recognize that what we did was in fact done by us. By the artist we are. By the human being who has a need to be recognized. To be remembered after we have died.

We do it because we can, and because we gain something immortal for it.

We are each an artist at work and when we pass along this mortal coil, our voices will remain.

We are legendary.