- Earlier this month, author Bonnie R. Paulson and I did a talk on author branding and marketing. We did a nifty slideshow and my contribution was examples of rock and metal bands for brands that succeeded, brands that failed, and successful rebranding.
- It was a lot of fun so I figured I’d share them with you.
- Example of successful branding:
- When I think of a successful brand, these guys are the first who come to mind… even if I’m not a fan.
- Made their own “characters” with recognizable makeup and outfits.
- Portrayed the message that they were rebels and you were one too for listening to them.
- Had the “Kiss Army” you could sign up for, complete with membership card so you felt part of the band.
- Comic books and movie appearances (The latter didn’t turn out so well.) KISS Meets Phantom of the Park was a major selection in my “Bad Movie Club.”
- How this applies to authors:
- Due to the prevalence of social media these days, authors are able to do more and more to brand themselves in different ways.
- Bonnie R. Paulson's stories always focus on survival. Mine always feature either damaged or eccentric characters and sometimes both… so I use the tagline “Love for the Broken and Strange.”
- 3.) Newsletter/ Street-team:
- Just as KISS has their KISS army and Megadeth has their CyberArmy, many authors bring their best fans into their network, making them part of their career. Bonnie calls hers “Survivors.”
- I call mine my “Misfits.” Though my street team is called “Brooklyn Ann’s Bookaholics” because I have a soft spot for alliteration. :D
- So what happens when brands fail?
- Here are a few examples.
Marilyn Manson: “Brand Misdirection”
I was a HUGE Manson fan back in the day. He began with a certain sound, image, and message that touched me… and many of his early songs still hold up.
Parents HATED him and he just ate that up. After all, rock branding 101 teaches: “Make parents hate you, sell more albums.”
Unfortunately, he got too caught up in “Shock Value” and his messages and outfits seemed to be more for the sake of shock and piccing off parents than the message of the value of being yourself and not letting bullies hurt you that first drew me in the first place.
Plus, he changed his look so much in just one decade that my head spun and I gave up on listening to him.
|This was the Manson I grew up on. Spooky & Sexy|
|When he changed to this, I was all, "okaay... at least the music's still good."|
What the hell, Manson? Seriously, WTF?
Red & Silver Leopard print is SOOO I'm DONE now.
Eventually he went back to his classic style, but it was too late.
How this pertains to authors:
It’s perfectly fine to try new subgenres, but try to have a complete series in each. Don’t do erotic one month and then switch to YA the next. Unless you use a pen name.
Also, it is important to KNOW your voice, and know what themes/ message you intend to deliver to your audience.
All details in your work must pertain to the story. Don’t do things just for shock value, or to comply to a trend.
Metallica: Brand Betrayal
I used to be a huge Metallica fan. I even liked the Black Album even if it was slightly mellower than the previous ones. And back in 1996, when they announced the release of a new album, I was so happy!
….Until I heard it.
|This was the Metallica I LOVED.|
They softened their sound & CUT THEIR HAIR!
|LOAD was the title of that 1996 album. It was a load of something, alright.|
Why this was a bad call:
In the mid 90’s, Alternative music was all the rage, so Metallica wanted to capitalize on that. And it did work in a way. All of a sudden the preppy kids at my school started listening to them.
However, the fan base they’d built for the past 15 years were horrified by the change and quit listening to them.
And then the new fans they gained abandoned them for the next new thing.
How this pertains to authors:
Always remember. Your fans are your fans for a reason. Don’t let them down to chase what’s popular.
If we want to do a drastic change, we can utilize pseudonyms.
Thankfully, after Metallica’s betrayal, another favorite band stayed true. Which brings me to the next subject.
Brand Consistency: MEGADETH
|I want to give them all big hugs and play with their hair!|
Fun fact: Dave Mustaine of Megadeth was one of the original founders of Metallica, but he was fired and instead of giving up, he formed one of the greatest thrash metal bands ever.
As you can see with the before and after, Megadeth kept their look. They also kept the basic core principles of their sound, though with moderate changes to keep from going stale.
|And that's why we see them here at the Grammy's. THEY didn't cut their hair!!|
How this pertains to authors:
Because although one should adapt to the times to avoid being redundant and remain relevant, you still need to maintain the voice your fans know and love you for.
Successful Rebranding: PANTERA
Did you know that Pantera started out as a hair metal band? Many don’t because they were unnoticeable among tons of other hair bands. And a terrible album cover.
|It's like Cinderella and Motley Crue had babies together.|
And let’s take a moment to see this awful album cover.
|Looks like something a kid in middle school in the 80's drew on the back of his homework folder.|
AFTER: They eventually replaced their generic 80’s singer and created a sound that was so different, people sat up and said, “WOW! Who ARE these guys?”
|They're metal enough that the lead singer can have short hair. :D|
Much better album art.
Seriously, listen to the difference!
Skip to 0:49 to get past the 80's sound effects
Oh, yesss!! Now this I can head-bang to!!
How this pertains to authors: Sometimes maybe you’re not in the right subgenre. Many authors do this because they feel pressured to follow the trends.
Authors who’ve done this: Jessica Bird wrote historical romance, then became a queen of Urban Fantasy with the BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD. Kinley MacGregor became Sherrilyn Kenyon, author of THE DARK HUNTERS.
I hope this was helpful, or at least entertaining advice!!
Want more rock stars in your life?
Check out my heavy metal romance, KISSING VICIOUS!!!