While some of the feedback on the branding articles has been great, I thought it would be useful if we took a step back and got a little more general, than the specific recommendations I’ve been giving in the ‘Comic Brand-Aid’ series. These are general tips and not a scientific formula – you may come across one that may sound like a “no-brainer” but they’re meant to work together – and it’s important to note: no single tip is more important than the whole group.
- Be Unique – there’s no benefit to naming your comic ‘My Comic’. There are hundreds of thousands of comics out there – what makes your comic unique? Is it about a dog who has two tails? Then why not name the comic ‘Two Tails Tales’ or ‘2 Tails Tales’? It’s unique and the dot-com domain for each spelling is available (see #5). Outside of your comic’s concept, there are many other ways that help your brand stand out. For instance, featuring a unique drawing style (Kate Beaton of Hark! A Vagrant), developing a different type of website (Scott McCloud’s Zot) or having very engaging and interesting characters (Meredith Gran’s Octopus Pie) can help you and your comic stand out – presenting that ‘unique brand’.
- Be Clear – if you’re drawing a comic about a dog with two tails, then you might not feature a dinosaur in a bar in the header of your website or your banner ads. Unless, your comic starts out as “So a dog with two tails walks into a bar and sees a dinosaur…” Another thing often overlooked is using the right font. For example, don’t use a gothic font unless it fits your comic. Is ‘Two Tails Tales’ a comedy? Then use a fun whimsical font (not Comic Sans which is neither fun or whimsical! ;-). Is it a dark tale? Then you might use a distressed font (see here about distressed or extremely unique fonts).
- Be Concise – it’s much easier for people to understand something that you can breakdown into it’s simplest form – aka ‘the Elevator Pitch’. There is so much going on at any given moment when someone is on the web, in a bookstore or at a con, you are going to increase your chances at landing a new reader or making a sale if you can easily communicate what your comic is, why it’s different and why someone would want to spend time with it. Carry that mentality over to your website and your banner ads – even your blog posts and social media efforts.
- Be Professional – I get it – you’re an artist and you need to concentrate on the art – “THE ART IS FIRST!” And it should be, but you need to consider that if you’re going to do this and make any financial headway either now or in the future, you need to be professional. Would you tell a story out of order? Should you insult your readers? Could you miss a post here and there? The answers here should be obvious. It’s more than likely that no one is going to just throw money at your feet so you need to think of your comic in some fashion or another as a business – and no one wants to deal with an unprofessional business.
- Be Easy to Find and Identify – this ties in with the first tip – be unique. Getting back to the example of ‘My Comic’, a quick search came up with over 2,600,000 results. ‘Two Tales Tails’ came up with only 410. How easy would your comic be to find in 410 results compared to millions? In addition, if you’ve done your homework and you’ve built a great logo for your comic, then you are going to be easy to pick out in a bunch of banner ads or any time someone comes across that image. Having a website address that’s easy to remember and is intuitive to the name of your comic is also important. Ask yourself which of the following seems easier to find: “www.twotailstales.com” or “www.sillydiggitydog.org/comics/twotailstales/” – don’t laugh at the latter, some comics are using web addresses like that. If you think you’re being unique by throwing in a cool spelling of a word or a name in your comic title – you’re not. You’re potentially confusing your audience (see the initial diagnosis on this article).
- Be Memorable – This may not be the perfect example of a brand, and I may be dating myself here a little bit – but quickly name all the sitcoms that featured a furry talking alien. If you came up with more than one – you’re watching waaaay to much TV. Of course in most instances that’s not exactly enough to be memorable, but the name was also catchy and easy to remember. If you haven’t guessed ‘Alf’ by now then you’re watching the perfect amount of television – or you’re under 20! The point is, a good brand is memorable. When you see a clown in just red and white – do you think of the circus or McDonald’s? As a general rule of thumb, most companies want to be in the top three of the consumer’s memory recall for ideal brand recognition. Name three brands of toothpaste: Colgate, Crest and Aquafresh are the three out of my head first. I may be able to name more if I REAAAAALLY thought about it (and yours is probably different), but the point is as consumers (and your readers are consumers – see tip #4) we typically lump things together – it’s easier to remember things if we associate them with each other.
- Be Consistent – once you’ve set your logo, your style, your brand – it’s easy to see flaws in it and you may want to change it. Maybe you’re in a fun mood one day and you want to change out your logo the way Google does on their home page when a special event occurs (or more recently everyday). Don’t. If you’re asking “Google’s doing it – why can’t I?” The very next question you should ask yourself is: what’s the difference between my brand and Google? If your answer isn’t the BILLIONS more pageviews that Google gets compared to you then I’ll tell you: IT’S THE BILLIONS MORE PAGEVIEWS THAT GOOGLE GETS COMPARED TO YOU! There – consistency is easy. Set it and forget it. Tweak as a last resort but everything that you produce and present should be consistent with your brand.
- Be Yourself – this one isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s great if you want to represent yourself as something you’re not – the problem is it’s hard to be consistent. At some point you’ll probably forget something, you’ll probably start to lean back to what you know – which for most people is themselves. So start there and end there. Be true to yourself and you will most likely find that some of the other tips listed here fall in line. Besides, you’re unique right? Then be clear, concise and professional, make yourself easy to find and be memorable and you’ll see that you’re consistently yourself.
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.