Before I move along to today's post about branding, let me take a moment to brand this blog. Did you see that I am a Top Writing Blog nominee through eCollegeFinder and voting is open through February 3? Yay! Click on the button at the top of the column to your right to cast your vote. Just scroll down to writercize, check it and hit submit. Reload and repeat. I'd love it if you voted for writercize, but seriously check out the list, there are some awesome blogs on there.
Now, onto branding and today's writercize...
Think for a moment about the conclusions you draw about a person based on material images. Is there a difference between a Ford person and a Chevy person? How about a Hummer and a Prius? Do you make a judgment about what a person is like whether they are wearing Oakleys or aviator sunglasses? How about Levi's versus Guess, Starbucks versus Dunkin' Donuts, Whole Foods versus Walmart? Are there fundamental differences in who we are based on the branding decisions we make every day?
Like it or not, as humans we do use images of these brands to determine a person's character and values. As writers, we can substitute brands for characteristics, if used sparingly. We can also draw on brands to identify location without spelling it outright, by using local chains in a story. I understand this is a technique that Steven King sometimes utilizes in his novels, although I have to admit I have yet to read anything that he has written. Again, I would not litter my prose with brands, knowing that it could date the story quickly or feel more like an infomercial than a novel, but the occasional drop helps the reader understand a character's circumstances.
For example, rather than say a person is concerned about safety on the road and is always thinking about how to make the family safer, you can say she pulled her Volvo out of the parking lot. If you want to make a country boy feel out of place in the big city, have him walk up to a Saks wearing Wranglers.
writercize: Pick three to five adjectives you would use to describe the user of each of the following brands:
- Pottery Barn
- Northface (or REI if unfamiiar)
- Toyota Prius
If you are up for an extra challenge, work at least one into a scene.
Click "read more" for writercizer sample response.writercizer sample response:
Gatorade - athletic, team-player, male
FUBU - young (under 40), urban, ethnic - likely African-American or Asian, style-conscious
Pottery Barn - conservative, upper middle class, fashionable, timeless, muted
Northface (or REI if unfamiiar) - athletic, mountaineering, outdoorsy, adventurous, casual
Toyota Prius - upper middle class/wealthy, trendy, conscientious, economic