In the past, we’ve looked at a lot of different aspects of branding. After doing a lot of research recently, I dawned on me that I may have skipped over an important distinction – just what your brand is.
Often, when I say brand, people tend to assume that I’m referring to their logo – and they’d be right and wrong. If I mentioned your hand, you wouldn’t assume I was talking about your thumb. Your thumb is part of your hand, but it’s not the whole hand. What I’m trying to illustrate here is that your logo is part of your brand, not the entire brand.
First of all, let’s explain what your brand is, because while overall it can be a detailed formula, it’s easy to figure out. Let’s start with the easy and define it: your brand is directly linked to how someone emotionally perceives and feels about your comic.
The rest of the explanation of your brand is easy too, but what makes it complicated is all the components that it covers. Here is a list and a little description of each.
*Feel free to ask for more details in the comments below and I’ll do my best to give a more thorough explanation. I thought to make the article more readable, I’d keep the descriptions short.
The iconic representation of your comic
- Font – the lettering type you choose for your logo should visually compliment or match your style of comic. And under NO circumstances should that be Comic Sans (Bearman).
- Style – the graphic enhancements that give your logo depth and can represent the complexity/simplicity of your comic. With my comic for instance, Rick the Stick’s logo is as far from ‘a really popular stickman style comic’ as possible because I didn’t want people to lump my comic into a crudely drawn stickman genre. Even if the other comics are overall better and more popular”.
- Colors – define the tone of your logo. Corporations use a lot of blue. Restaurants typically shy away from blue. Fast food employs a lot of red, orange and yellows – these are action colors. Want something to represent earthy or renewable energy? How about something… Um, I don’t know… green?
The visual aspects that include your logo but so much more…
- Your Comic – the look and feel of your comic do a lot to define your brand. You could argue the most, but it’s not always the case. I’m not going to name names here.
- Your Characters – How they represent themselves within the construct of your comic. Some examples are: Do they swear? Is there nudity?
- Your Collateral – everything from your business cards, bookmarks, flyers, buttons, letterhead, stationery, plastic bags, etc. Anything you slap your logo on that is printed.
- Your Merchandise – everything you sell from books, t-shirts, hats, etc. If your building a kids comic, you probably shouldn’t sell those edible underwear.
This is you and the reputation you have with others through:
- Social Media – Google Plus, Twitter, Facebook, etc. (yes they’re in that order on purpose) Are you a retweeter extraordinaire? Are you a content sharer? Or are you passive? For most people, you get out what you put in.
- Conventions – what you put on your table, how you put it there and how you communicate across that table to convention goers and other artists behind it.
- Blog – directly tied into a lot of comics, but also can define the artist. Best not to discuss your sexual exploits if you’re trying to keep a squeaky clean image.
- Comments – how you deal with positive and negative comments. If you decide to get baited into flame wars, that could have an effect on your brand.
- Banners You Create – to promote your comic on both your site and others. Always remember to deliver to the reader’s expectations.
- Banners You Feature – on your site should not exist outside of your brand’s “guidelines”. Probably not good to feature adult or overtly graphic banners on your kid-friendly comic’s site.
- Associations – comics you link to either friends or comics you’re a fan of. I’ll keep using this analogy because it’s easy: not a good idea to link to comics that feature adult content on your (say it with me) kid-friendly comic’s site.
The relationship you and your comic deliver to your readers
- Web – usability. How the reader gets around your site. Is browsing easy? Are there tons of links, long load times, a hundred banners? Is yes to any of these, please insert sound of large crowd booing.
- Store – browsing, buying and delivery. If you’re using a second party (Zazzle, CafePress, Lulu, CreateSpace, etc.) how these sites help and deliver your products are important – as well as the quality. If you’re doing it yourself, are you making the most of your packaging, store’s conversions and delivery?
- Social – how you interact with your readers and other artists through social media. Remember, everything published online (good and bad) is there…forever…
- Conventions – how do convention goers and other artists feel after talking to you or stopping by your table/booth? If you’re dirty, disheveled and grumpy, that may be great for the tortured artist look, but if you’re promoting a cleanly drawn, upbeat comic, then it may make sense to cheer up, buy a razor and take a bath hippie. 😉
There you have it. I think I’ve covered everything that your brand encompasses and hopefully, I’ve help give someone, somewhere a little clarity and insight into what your brand really is.
Again, feel free to ask for more information in the comments below. They mean a lot and may help someone else who’s too shy to post!
This article is a fantastic overview of brand, identity and logo. Worth the read. http://justcreativedesign.com/2010/04/06/branding-identity-logo-design-explained/
My articles on this site that discuss branding: http://www.webcomicalliance.com/?s=branding+ken+drab
Ken Drab (me) has a small brain but a savant-like interest in branding, marketing and design. He better, that’s what he gets paid to do in real life. In make believe – he’s a webcomicker with a mediocre comic but a solid brand. Regardless, this is an ongoing series where we take a look at the concept of branding and how it applies to your comic. We’ll highlight do’s and don’ts as well as look at fixes. We’ll also be taking requests and take a critical but constructive approach to help real comic artists nail down their brand. So if you’re willing to put yourself out there – let me know. Email me directly at rtswebmail [at] gmail [dot] com or click here and add Comic Brand-Aid in the subject line. I’ll contact you if I think I can help you and we can help others by showcasing my recommendations.