Branding is everything.
We all want people to recognize our brand, so they’ll buy our product when they see it. In a writer’s world that means our name. That is, my brand is my name: Jo-Ann Carson.
What does it stand for? What am I selling? What is my brand? – More on that later. First:
The All-Canadian Ketchup War
Once upon a time in the ketchup-loving country of Canada we could go to the local grocery store and buy several brands of the condiment. Everyone had their favorite. Some preferences were based on taste; others, on cost; and still others on politics. Recently the brand-politics heated up.
The choices of brand preference changed because:
- In June 2014 – Heinz shut down their factories in Leamington, Ontario and moved to the US. Local farmers were hit hard as were the people who had jobs in the factories.
- The Twitterverse went wild and Canadians started changing brands.
- In January 2016 – French’s announced that they would use only Leamington tomatoes in their ketchup
- Again the Twitterers went wild.
- In March 2016 – Loblaws, which is one of Canada’s biggest food chains, started pulling French’s ketchup off it’s shelves. They said it wasn’t selling.
- In March 2016 – a rumour circulated that a leaked Loblaws memo indicated the real reason for pulling French’s was that they wanted to push their own brand, Presiden’ts Choice.
- (there is also an Israeli Ketchup war,, but I won’t cover that here)
What did I gain from the Sticky Red mess?
- Consumers are loyal to their brand.
- But that loyalty can change.
- Brand loyalty is based on real and perceived attributes.
- Image is everything.
To show you how seriously we take ketchup here in Canada, I’ll share Stompin Tom’s famous song about, yes, ketchup:
so If I were a tomato condiment…
… and wanted to sell well in Canada, I would want to use Canadian tomatoes and package it in Canada with Canadian workers.
… and wanted to sell well in North America? I’d need to expand that following statement in as equitable a way as possible, or sell the Canadian tomato as being exceptional.
… and wanted to sell globally? I’d need to expand further, or sell it as a novel N.A. food.
… I wouldn’t want to lie or represent my product
But I’m not selling squished tomatoes. I’m selling me. So which tomato-war-factors similarly affect my brand?
- I need to develop characters and settings my readers relate to. Whether they are exotic or in my home town, they need to be defined in an easily accessible way.
- I need to write plots that pull people in and not let them go until the last page, give them the full-meal deal–love, suspense and lots of action.
- In short, I need to go for the heart. Chill it and Thrill it.
“Jo-Ann Carson” stands for Smart, Sexy Suspense.
How can you take charge of your brand? Think about it. Try it on and adapt it until it moulds to who you are and what you write. Make it as honest and real.
My latest book, Ain’t Misbehaving’ is available on Amazon for pre-order.
photos – all my own