What is your Personal Brand? Kurt Sasso News, spotlight I know we have alot of extremely talented writers and artists in this webcomic community. Without a doubt the most talented group of people I have ever been fortunate enough to not only interview but know as well. This information is definitely worth sharing. I was at a recent seminar with a wonderful person named Ed Roach – The Branding Expert. It was very eye opening. It was mainly for businesses and how they are perceived based not on how much money they made or how many awards that they won. Those are all signs of success. No, this was about how they were known for their Brand. Everyone has a brand. Every. Single. Person. But, it is not your logo or your slogan. Those identify you. That is not your brand. Your brand is your reputation. Brand = Reputation. It is up to you to define your brand and your reputation through social interaction: Cons, Social Media, Blogs, et al. How do you define your Brand? By differentiation. Your art style might be second to none or your writing is the best that has ever been put to paper. You might have won awards like an Eisner; Have been in the top ten of listing sites for sixteen weeks straight. But, what make you different from the rest of those webcomics that are in your same genre? Ask yourself that question as you continue to read this article. It’s never too late to really look at what you are doing to put yourself ahead of the pack (or your genre for that matter). Competitive Analysis – compare your site against those that are in your same genre. Use http://www.surcentro.com/ (totally free and brings up your competitors or similar sites.) Colour Analysis – Take a look at what colours your competitors are using. Bring up a colour spectrum like this one. Go to your competitors sites and mark off what are the major colours that you see. Take your top two or three sites if there are alot in your genre. Circle what colours are on those sites. If you see that your colours are similar to your competitors. Change it. It’s that simple. Do you see colours that are not being used in that graph? Go with something totally different to make you stand out. That’s the whole point. These are colours of opportunity. Take Penny Arcade & PVP Online. Major colours there are with PA (Dark Grey, Blue, Orange). PVP (Brown, Tan, Orange). Do they stand out? Not really no. Does that take away from their content? Probably not. Could they try something totally different? I’d like to see that. Is it still a good use of colour? I’ll let you decide. Research what your fans like / do not like about your website: Do a bit of stakeholder research. I mean if everyone says your comic is cool or awesome. That’s wonderful. But have you taken the time to ask them about your website? No? Well rather than calling people out, why not just send them an anonymous survey asking about your website. Survey Monkey does an amazing job of this and it’s totally anonymous: http://www.surveymonkey.com. It takes two seconds to sign up and send it off. Ask them: What do you think of the colours? What do you like about the website? What don’t you like about the website? What would you change about the website? All valid questions that take very little time to answer. Now you have information to go through and work on your website. Brand Image and Brand positioning: What services or products are you offering your readers? Do you provide author congeniality to those that post in your comments or when they send you emails? Do you add in content like streaming videos of your drawing sessions or a video cast about your writing style? Have you been on podcasts promoting your works? What do you offer that other webcomics do not? Take Harley Davidson for example. “They don’t sell motorcycles. They let a 40 year old man wear leather pants and make them the person you don’t want to mess with.” All of these little things speak volumes about your brand and reputation within the webcomic community. How can you take these existing services that you provide and package them into a complete brand and market that. Find out what makes your readers keep coming back and develop this system with the information gathering tools that you have available at your disposal. If you don’t have an idea where to start, the internet is a big place and I’ll have a few people at the end of all this to get you into the right direction. Branding: The Expert Reality Branding is all about a mind-set of setting yourself apart from the rest. Look at your processes and see, how you can improve yourself. How can you speed up you system (be it art or writing). Write out your process step by step. Everything from start to finish and see what is redundant. What can you trim down? The less steps you have to work with the faster the product can come out with the same quality that you are putting into it. Taking the High Ground: To Brag or not to Brag First to Market. It is never too late to market yourself. Word of mouth is king. Twitter, Facebook, Blogs that are similar to your genres. Getting that Google Page rank up (We’ll talk about that in a moment). Webcomic Authors and Artists are the humblest people that I know. I say this with kindness. Get over it. If you are doing something good. Brag about it. Let the people know what you can do, what you have to offer. Brag. Brag. Brag. Brag. If you have a subscription service to your site for exclusive content take the time to see what your subscribers are clicking on through a Google Analytics See how long they are spending on your site, look through where your most popular sections of your site is. If you have to change around your website to make things easier. Go for it. You want your fans / subscribers to have the best time possible on your site. If you notice through your research into your website stats that many people are going to say the wallpaper section or an e-book that you have on your site for some premium content (which is easy to mass produce 10 – 50 pages if you so choose) and a bit of extra branding for your site that they can downloaded onto the portable devices like an iTouch, Blackberry’s etc. Most of all be bold in your brand. Be different.. Building your Brand Online: Using the internet to it’s full potential If you do a google search for yourself (and who hasn’t) Where do you see your webcomic in all of this? Is it on the first page? If not then you have some work to do. Your name (real or handle) = your brand = your reputation = your online presence. Webcomics are broken into one category in terms of content (Yes, only one category) 1) You have a webcomic with alot of comics but very little content. It is great to focus on the comic itself but readers also want to know about you the author. Quiz: Here’s what I want you all to do. Put up a video clip of telling your readers about yourself. No longer than two minutes. That’s it. Simple eh? Use YouTube (Register your brand http://www.youtube.com/) or Ustream it. Link it back to this post in the comments section. Need help with some topics? Ok, try these: Likes and dislikes. Why you got into webcomics. What your comic is about. Something. Anything. Be Creative. You are selling yourself as much as the comic you are painstakingly creating. Think of it as an online representation of yourself. This is your life, your portfolio, your brand. Make it stand out. Use Twitter, Facebook, Blogspot and comment on blogs that are similar to your interests. Be intelligent about it you never know what may come of relationships in the future from this. Also, the more you comment the more your page rank will increase in Google, Yahoo and other various search engine sites. I’ve bombarded you all enough with the Branding of your website and your web-selves. If you like or don’t like what I have to say here use the comments section. Tell me if I’m full of it or add in your own additions to this section. I’d like to thank Ed Roach of http://www.thebrandingexperts.ca for his valuable information in his seminar which many of these key points were taken from. Visit his website and blog for more information about branding.