Welcome back to this Black Ship of ours! As the Indie Comics Gauntlet continues, today we look at branding — a must do for any real comic creators that want to build an audience, a following, and a style.
So what’s branding? And why does it matter to the comic game?
Branding is a business term that’s used to describe the efforts businesses go through to generate a form of recognition for who they are and what they offer; it’s much like tattooing, a way to assert one’s identity. It’s through branding that people should get a feel for what you’re offering, and if you do it well you will create a feel that people trust and seek out.
Now if we hold onto those ideas and apply it to the comics game, we find some ideas that will help us boost what we’re doing.
For instance, it’s easier to brand yourself as a company. Given, some of us do not have the capability of creating a fully staffed company, but we all have the right to a DBA (Doing Business As). I’ve had many people remember Feral Publication, but forget my name. Richard Larios is a hard thing to sell and a harder thing to remember at a con where you’re meeting so many people. My personal name just doesn’t pop.
Now, when people hear ‘Feral Publication,’ they may not know what I am offering but they might be inclined to check out the humor and attitude of the art I’m offering. Many people have asked me, “so what’s feral about these comics?” Anyone in sales will tell you that’s the hardest part. To get someone to listen to the sales pitch enough that they begin to wonder about your product. After that you state your readymade sales pitch. If it’s for them, then it’s for them.
Feral has more personality than Richard, and Feral makes it sound confrontational, makes it sound counterculture. And guess what? Feral Publication is the name I use to sell my punk comics. Not too far off the mark, right? But that’s only the beginning. After that my vendor table also has to look punk or I lied. Nothing will lose you a customer faster than failing to live up to your name.
Now why did I go the route of Zines instead of the traditional comic? Well, I am of the opinion that Zines are a working-class form of literature. And when I state that point to anyone stopping by my table, I re-emphasize my brand identity. At that, I usually get many punks walking by and then stopping at the table when they see I’m peddling Zines. Then when they see the content, when they read the anarcho-feminist superhero zine comic, they’re more than willing to support the art. Meaning my brand called out to them, and they found it was indeed to their liking.
You have to understand this point. If you go to a con and think your comic is for everyone, you don’t understand your own art. It cannot be for everyone. If it is it means it lacks personality. Your goods have to have a home audience. Find out whether you resonate with the sci-fi lovers, romantic comedy enthusiasts, crime noire buffs, etc., etc. This process will also help you put together your sales pitch. You should be able to tell anyone in two sentences what your comics are, and after hearing that they should be able to decide if it’s for them pretty quickly.
Lastly, proper branding will result in just that, a brand. You will mark all your products with a uniform style and logo. My branding can be found in all the shirts I’ve made, on all the comics, on all my social media outlets! I have had folks google Feral Publication and have no confusion about which site, Instagram, twitter, and FB page belonged to me. That makes it easy to re-connect with people who were interested in my work. Imagine them googling Richard Larios — I just googled it and a whole bunch of other Richard Larios popped up, and that’s on my own laptop!
So please do yourself a favor and properly brand your table and products, and properly understand your audience. It’ll make going to cons more fruitful. This of course will only help when the con organizers do their job right too. Next week we’ll look at cons: proper etiquette, when to stick it out or when to throw in the towel, which cons to attend and which to avoid.
Thanks for stopping by again and, as always, all hands on deck. Let’s keep this Black Ship of ours sailing.