I don’t know how closely you stalk me. That’s probably a good thing. You don’t want me to take out a restraining order, do you? But if you’ve been stalking me pretty closely, you may have noticed “shifts” in a lot of the shit I have on the web.
The biggest one is my podcasting. I started a podcast called “The Story Telling Podcast.” It’s pretty boss. Then, because I wanted a podcast where I could just bullshit for about an hour a week, I started another one with the incomparable David W. Wright called A Game of Geeks. It’s tons of fun. Then, because now I’m some sort of “podcasting expert” or some shit, I created one for the filmmaking collective I’m a part of, We Make Movies. First episode is going live later this week.
But in creating these three podcasts, I did something fucking dumb that created a big problem for me. See, I do the podcasts live, via Google Hangout (my co-hosts are all over the goddamn country) and broadcast them live to YouTube. The thing is, I created a separate YouTube channel for each show.
The result is a mess. I have three different channels, I can never remember which one to sign into when I’m doing each show each week, and my Google+ pages are all over the place.
So, this week I created a BRAND NEW Google+ profile for myself. Not “The Storytelling Podcast” profile or the “Game of Geeks” profile, but a “Garrett Robinson” page. I then created Google+ PAGES for each of the shows.
Now, when I’m ready to record that week’s episode, no matter what show I’m doing, I have ONE login. I start the show, and bam. Plus, all of my YouTube views are consolidated, all of my subscribers have only ONE place to go to. Simpler, right? Much easier to handle administratively.
But what’s even more important is how this affects my branding.
Branding, as an independent artist, is more important than a lot of people give a fuck about. So few people even think about their brand and how it will affect their marketability out in the world. And yet, to put it politely, without proper branding you’re fucking yourself in the ass with a jackhammer.
What if you’re a director? Part of your “branding” is the demographic you appeal to. I tend to go for a humor-loving, witty, intelligent audience who are good-looking, wise in the ways of the world and, simply put, better than other people. (You know who you are, fans. Mwah!) If someone asked me to do a kids’ project, I’d tell them that’s not really my brand—UNLESS it’s a kids’ project that also has massive appeal to adults (a la The Ninjabread Man, a book I’m releasing in a few days alongside fellow author Z.C. Bolger). There’s no swearing, cartoon violence only and no sex in that story. BUT, there’s a lot of adult humor that will fly straight over the heads of the younger folks who read it. That’s an exception to the rule, though. My first short film, Prime Effect, had a fourteen-year-old who said “fucker” and a bodycount of five out of its seven characters, gunshots and special effects.
Because that’s my brand.
Hit Girls (my latest serial novel) had two sister assassins, both of them beautiful and utterly ruthless an INCREDIBLE body count and language and themes that actually made one of my best friends (Z.C. Bolger, again) refuse to keep reading the book because he “couldn’t handle the bloodlust.”
But that’s my brand.
No matter what I do, whether it’s a suspenseful sci-fi thriller, an insouciant zombie novel, or a psychotic revenge-assassin death spree serial, there’s a particular voice to it. There’s a quality that is uniquely and wholly MINE.
The thing is, whatever I do and whatever genre it’s in, I hope that people like it for my voice, and not because they just HAPPEN to like things in that genre. To be honest, as long as they’re enjoying it, I really don’t care why. But what I am striving for is an audience that likes my work because of the unique swing I bring to my stories.
LET’S BE PRACTICAL
Whatever art form you practice, you’ve gotta figure out your brand. You can start out doing whatever you want if you’re just finding your voice. But once you’ve found it and you know what you want to do, and you’re DOING it, consolidate everything you’re doing around that brand. Don’t have five websites: have one. Don’t have three YouTube channels like I did: have one, and make everything work around that one. Everything you’re doing is an offshoot of YOU.
Understanding this concept is why people like Johnny B. Truant can write books like Fat Vampire, Unicorn Western and The Bialy Pimps with no conflict. They’re all distinctly Johnny, no matter how different they are. I’m sure there are people who like Fat Vampire because it’s a vampire book and they just love vampire books. But I know there are people who love it because it’s Johnny—not because they’re just so fucking in love with his abs of steel and want to give him rimjobs, but because his voice appeals to them.
FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR BRAND IS, AND THEN PUSH THAT.
Part of my brand is absolutely no hesitation on using swear words. I am restraining myself on two projects, yes, because I’m co-authoring them and my co-authors want these to be kid-friendly. That’s fine. But I will never create a solo project that doesn’t have a tun of fucktards, cuntwhores and fatherfuckers in it. You know that. You’ve been reading my blog, you’ve probably read some of my books (if you haven’t, you really should).
Another part of my brand is body count. I like thinking up new, interesting and hilarious ways for people to die. And unlike, let’s say, David W. Wright, the deaths rarely depress people. Usually, they’re either, “Holy shit!” moments or hilarious ones. Yes, it can be hilarious when people die. Ever see Samuel L. Jackson’s death scene in Deep Blue Sea? How about Leonardo DiCaprio’s death scene in The Departed? Hell, it can even be hilarious with animals: how about the cat in The Boondock Saints?
Massive spoilers on all of those, by the way. Sorry.
I don’t know about you, but those clips are all fucking HILARIOUS. Much more to my tastes than the way Leonardo DiCaprio died in (SPOILER ALERT) Blood Diamond. I loved that movie. The ending was amazing, it made me cry.
But it’s not my brand.
Not saying I’d never do something like that (it was an incredible, emotional scene) but you better believe several dozen other people would have been detonated by a cherry bomb strapped to the back of a chihuahua first.
Branding is taste is style is attitude is BRANDING.
It’s got to be in everything you do, up to and including and ESPECIALLY your marketing.
Bring everything together. Find out what’s the central core of your art and build things around it. It’s probably what you’re good at: after all, it’s what you like, isn’t it? You probably spend more time thinking about it than anything else.
Work on your brand. Put that out there. Show diversity, prove your competence in a variety of styles, genres, what have you. But unify it with your brand.
Want more like that? Check out this post: Keeping it Together.