Hebrew Coke LogoTonight I am speaking to the NY chapter of Mystery Writers of America about branding in the digital age. I think I am pretty well branded, though I don’t believe you can ever say you’re “done.” But in writing my presentation I wondered what…and who…has the strongest brand. Of course, there’s Coke. That’s the first one that comes to mind for me. It doesn’t matter whether you can read the label, you know what it is. And if someone says “cola,” the two answers that come to mind are probably Coke and Pepsi, so they’re doing a darn good job of branding.

For Better or WorstedAs far as publishers go, I think Berkley’s Prime Crime has an AWESOME brand. You see a Berkley Prime Crime Cover, you know exactly what you’re getting. They brand their covers with the drawings and pastels, they brand their spines with the little black hand…and the content gives readers exactly what they expect.

Second to Berkley, I’d say Harlequin’s “Presents” line has the strongest branding in the industry. A single glance at a cover and you know what the contents are in length, heat, and story type. People may laugh at the idea of Presents because they’re supposedly old fashioned, but I don’t actually think it’s coincidental that both Prime Crime and Presents are steady sellers for their publishing companies.

As far as authors…well, everyone knows what a Jim Patterson book reads like, but do you know what it looks like? No. But you do know what thrillers look like, right? And they don’t look like cozies or romances.

So what about you guys? What brands seem particularly strong to you? (And don’t forget…to introduce my brand to everyone, I am doing a full month of giveaways on my blog, so stop by and see whether there’s anything you want to enter for a chance to win!)

This entry was posted in *Laura, On Marketing/Promotion by Laura K. Curtis. Bookmark the permalink.

About Laura K. Curtis

Laura K. Curtis has always done everything backwards. As a child, she was extremely serious, so now that she's chronologically an adult, she feels perfectly justified in acting the fool. She started teaching at age fifteen, then decided to go back to school herself at thirty. And she wrote her first book in first grade. It was released in (notebook) paperback to rave reviews and she's been trying to achieve the same level of acclaim ever since. She lives in Westchester County, NY with her husband and a pack of wild Irish Terriers, which has taught her how easily love can coexist with the desire to kill.

7 thoughts on “Branding

  1. I think both Disney and Apple have done a remarkable job of branding. I agree with you on Berkley Prime Crime and Coke. And of course I love the giveaways on your personal blog…

  2. Laura, I hate the element of branding in the world of literature because it compares writers and their books to products like Coke, unfortunately, we are in such a commercial society, that writers must be branded. That’s if it’s important to them to sell lots of books, which is of course the reality of our situation. In fact, I’m looking for reviewers for my new book on because if readers see lots of reviews than they will buy a book from an author new to them, or one whose brand is unknown to them.

  3. Deb – I totally agree on Disney and Apple. They’ve done a fabulous job with their brands.

    Dot – I know it sounds odd, but I love branding. It makes life so much easier. A brand is nothing more or less than a promise to readers–“this is what you’re getting when you pick up my book”. Coke’s worst misstep was to break their promise to customers with “New Coke,” and I’ve seen authors do that same kind of thing — have a brand that promises a cozy, comfortable read and then have gruesome events in the book. Readers feel betrayed. Classic authors have very strong brands because they’ve been passed down from generation to generation — “Here’s a Louisa May Alcott book.” “Here’s a James Joyce book.” — They’re not the same experience, and because they’re dead, their brands were defined for them. But we have the chance to define our own brands, and I love that aspect.

  4. books/authors have always been “branded.” Nothing in the world is a bigger brand than Nancy Drew.

  5. How funny that I didn’t even think about Nancy Drew, or all the different authors who wrote under the name “Carolyn Keene”. Back in the day, Harlequin used to own the names authors published under for them, too–if you wrote for them under a name, you couldn’t write for anyone else under the same name. They knew the importance of the brand, too!

  6. I have always loved Penguin’s little penguin on the spine of books. I would never give one away! BTW, your giveaways are a great idea. Hoping to win those blocks for one of the grandkids!

  7. Afterword: It was an excellent presentation (did we expect any different?) and the audience seemed to get a lot out of it. Cutting through the clutter of all the advice to find a reasonable path to follow for your own work is so tough. Laura gave everyone a compass at least and pointed them at the summit.

Comments are closed.