What immediately comes to your mind when you hear or read the following names: Oprah? Stephen King? Joel Osteen? Most likely, it is an image, a concept, or a word. But whatever the form, that is that individual’s brand, or, in other words, what he or she represents or stands for.
To those familiar with Oprah, Stephen King, and Joel Osteen, the words talk show host, author, and televangelist are synonymous with their respective names. However, what these individuals do is not their brand. Their brand is that one quality they bring to what they do. For Oprah, living authentically is the quality she brings to every TV show she produces and every issue of her monthly magazine. For Stephen King, scaring us all half to death is the characteristic of the majority of his books. And for Joel Osteen, the positivity of faith for financial success, otherwise referred to as the prosperity gospel, is the theme of his broadcasts and books. All three of them stand out from others in their field for something specific. That “something specific” is their brand. And most people know them not only for what they do but also for what they stand for. That is an effective brand.
Here’s another way of looking at this. As I was writing this article, the image of a branding iron kept popping into my head. Ranchers place their unique stamp on their cattle to set them apart from the cattle of other ranchers. So I ask you: What is your stamp that sets you apart from other writers? What do you want to be known for?
Your brand derives from who you are, not from what you do, so determining your brand may require some soul searching. In doing so, don’t be afraid to ask those you trust what they see is your stamp or “something specific.” Oftentimes, others can see it better than you can.