Credit: Peggy Sue Wood | @pswediting
About the Event
Date: 24 July 2021 | Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yad9Tjnx0ac&ab_channel=Comic-ConInternational
Panel Description: Brian Pulido has been a thriving, independent comic book creator for thirty years, and has a clear easy to identify brand. What role does branding play in the world of independently-produced comics? Through his “branding rules,” case studies, and examples, Pulido will show you all you need to know … and more!
Brian Pulido is back again at Comic-Con 2021 to host a panel on branding. We have notes from two other panels that he has done before, “Calling All Creators: How To Build a Loyal Fan Base From Scratch” from Wonder Con 2021 and “How to Thrive as an Indy Comics Creator Now!” from last year’s Comic-Con (2020). He’s an experienced creator and well-known name in the industry, which makes this panel a must for our “Notes!” style of posts.
What is a brand?
A brand is more than just a color palette or logo. Pulido asserts that it could also include a state of mind for your company. It’s a way to look at what kind of outcome you are hoping to create for your company and audience. For example, his company, Coffin Comics, aims to create fun and excitement in the domain of rock and roll-inspired supernatural comics. That’s what Coffin Comics is about in terms of branding. So content focuses on that, and everything serves that mentality.
If you think of Nike, you think of their logo (a swoosh) and the simple design of it; you may also think of sports and highly physical activity. They focus on the spirit of moving forward quickly and with excitement.
Rule 1: Define Your Brand
You need to define yourself and your potential customer/patron. This could be anything and everything from your name to your logo and color choices–even fonts.
The goal is to create something that is instantaneously definable or recognizable. Think of Google, Nike, or other major brands and how easy it is to define and identify them in comparison to other companies in the same industries.
Rule 2: Create a Value Proposition
What is your brand doing for others? How is it worth supporting? Is it entertaining? Is it educational? What makes you valuable to the audience is the key point. Define it and keep it in mind as you are branding, advertising, and creating.
Rule 3: Find Your Brand Voice
Clarity – Speak clearly, without complicating your message. Select some buzz words that are easy to categorize your content and focus your way of writing/producing things under those categories so that the audience knows what you are about as a person/company.
Consistency & Constancy – The premise of this is that, no matter what, you are always out there communicating. You never stop, and you repeat processes or styles consistently.
Rule 4: Keep it Real & Authentic
Be your genuine self and do what you love. If you hate it, that will show even if you put on a smile. You need to do what you love so that you can push through and use that passion even if you have a rough day.
Don’t guess the marketplace. Following trends might work for a short while, but you’ll come to hate the work if you don’t have a passion for the subject. Moreover, you won’t really build a brand because you won’t have a base to build off of for your content to succeed long term.
Consider being aspirational in nature. The literal definition of aspirational is “having or characterized by aspirations to achieve social prestige and material success.” It’s a good mindset to have and can help you remember that gaining the success you want will mean more if it’s because of who you really are and not who you pretend to be.
Rule 5: Let the Work Rule!
Your purpose and your work should be obvious to people within one second of looking at your website/logo.
Let the work do the talking. For example, it would be better to write in a query letter: “Hi, my name is ___. I have a story about _____, and I’m looking for an opportunity to have someone read it."
This is way better than being boastful and long, like saying: “I wrote the best thing ever and if you need to read it because it will make us rich” or “it’s about [insert long summary].”
Rule 6: Stand Out from the Crowd
This seems obvious, but it’s not always easy. Branding on a personal level and for a company can look different. For example, a personal brand might be a uniform or hairstyle. But a company needs those categorical breakdowns and logos. A key message to stick to and evolve from–think Disney and the “magical” part of their branding. It’s a primary focus, it’s their key message, and it works.
For Coffin Comics, the key message is great customer service and building trust with customers. That’s the key message and what they strive for behind the scenes. Pulido asserts that “there’s no sense in having the greatest book in the world, or anything, unless people really trust you and they could trust you if you are worthy of their trust.”
Branding could also be working inside a particular genre, powerfully. For example, this could mean you work in horror, and your "powerful” approach uses a particular art style that is more so associated with cutesy stuff than typical dark/horror styles. (Like, Happy Tree Friends…)
Carve out a niche in your genre, essentially.
Rule 7: Live Your Brand
This isn’t just image. It’s that key message part. Living the philosophy of what you want your brand to be is part of it.
One way to do this is to tell your story. The more you show, the more people know, and the more likely you are to build trust (look at Pulido’s Wonder Con 2021 panel, “Calling All Creators: How To Build a Loyal Fan Base From Scratch” to understand better what this means.)
You need a website and a presence on social media. Content-wise, it’s always good to do a bit of documentation such as in what you are doing/who you are out with, etc. It’s a powerful way to show your audience the kind of person/company you are without needing to stray from your message or get too personal.
Rule 8: Repeat Rules 1-7!
Like everything, it takes work. It takes time. And it takes passion.