The Dark Magic of Branding

Brands are quasi-magical shape-shifting entities that control your mind. If you own a business, freelance or work in marketing, you need to have a good idea of what a brand is.

Brand Definition

There are so many technical ways to describe this, but you’re not getting one right now.

A brand is something evoked when you look at a logo or hear the name spoken. Just one look at a particular yellow sign on a red background immediately causes a mental encyclopedia to emerge of every quality and characteristic. It should also carry the essential truth of the company. The essential truth. That’s about as close as you’re going to get to understanding the universe.

Why Does So Much Work Go Into Developing a Brand?

Believe it or not, brands affect your purchases or investments far more than you think. You might think you only buy the lowest price or the best quality or the most convenient, but you don’t.

Even though you might go shopping for the cheapest food, chances are you have your eye out for the brands that you know which typically offer lower prices. So when they slip a more expensive bag of parakeet feed on the shelf, you will probably buy it unknowing of the lesser expensive one.

parakeet

Basically, good branding is a powerful voodoo that draws you in without having to advertise as much. Alternatively, you can see it as that reliable love of your life who you appreciate for their personality instead of needing to be constantly reminded of why you should stay.

Branding Yourself

Okay, put down that hot iron. The only tool you need for personal branding is the Internet. Forbes actually has a phenomenal piece on how to do this which you can find here.

Much like a business, people will be confused about what you have to offer if you haven’t spent time on your own personal brand. It’s not just one more thing to worry about–it’s one more thing to tinker with and have fun with.

“Peril”

I felt like I found “the One” moments ago.

Reading through a slew of blog posts I overwhelmed my browser with, I came upon a word that caused whiplash in my eye sockets. Well, almost that dramatic. Once I read the word “peril”, my mind’s eye created a quick crack of close thunder in a very dark, scary place. That place was probably my own head, but I digress.

goldfinch

Sometimes a tiny word in the right place can provide very enjoyable communication for the reader. I wish there was a database containing all of these words, but alas, these word preferences really vary from person to person.

Asking one of my sisters what word gave her the “chills”, she told me, “clock”, an everyday noun.

“Clock” is indeed a satisfying word. It really perfectly captures the staccato of the ticking hand. It doesn’t do me any favors when I’m reading, but that’s the ol’ variation from person to person at play.

Dear “peril”…where will you be next? Part of the excitement for me is not seeing you too often. While I hope to be at peace tonight, maybe you will pop up in a future blog post and perfectly convey the dangers of abusing SEO tactics once more.

 

Do you Want Your Work Skipped Over or Read?

Would you rather eat dirt or a sandwich?

This post concerns the marketing world, the field I spend the most time in. If you’re looking for a path or are just curious, then come on with me and learn about “readability”, something useful for mostly web material. Novelists, poets and academic writers might scoff at it.

What is Readability?

It is how easily the message of your text is understood. Things like long words and long sentences can deter the average Internet user. This is not because the average user is incapable of understanding your brilliance. It just jogs their brains a bit. Anything that slows down reading also tests patience.

If someone is snuggled up with a cup of tea ready to delve into a story, they want to savor the artistry of writing. If someone is navigating web pages, they want a quick dump of information. And that’s just the way we are.

seedy_bird

How Simple?

If your article/blog post can be easily read by a 7th or 8th grader, you have good readability. The Flesch Reading Ease Test measures several factors to determine this. Generally the more you can chop up a sentence, a paragraph or phrase, the better your score.

The Price of Ignoring It

Does Google look for readability when selecting search results? How big a factor is it? We just don’t know. Google likes to be mysterious. It is unrivaled, though many hardcore technology geeks use other search engines along with their Linux setup. And their Tor browsers. (We love you).

What to Choose

I am not a stickler on readability for this blog. For one, it’s actually about writing, and most people reading it are at least college-aged. This post in particular measures on an 8th grade level. My main concern is paragraphs. No one likes a text block.

Writing for other websites is a different story. Web writers need to dice up their material before submitting. Add subheadings. Throw out the passive voice. Stir in a few connector words. Make sure you don’t sprinkle in too much of the keyword. Viola, an omelette. Um, article.

Test your readability: 1

If you want to learn more: 2

How to Stop Going on Autopilot

“I’ll bet a fiddle of gold
Against your soul
‘Cause I think I’m better than you”

You had a five-page assignment due and managed to squeeze it in in a solitary day. You feel proud that you’re so efficient and are one click away from turning it in to your professor or employer. You feel as confident as Johnny taking on the devil on the fiddle. You reluctantly give your work a quick skim and even more reluctantly come to the realization that writing has to be original to be impressive, not just speedy.

The paper is full of cliches and fillers and doesn’t even flow smoothly. Looks like you went on autopilot and just thought you were having a creative streak. It’s a great realization right before a deadline.

Satisfying the Word Count VS Writing

There are no less than five paragraphs in your paper that all say the same thing. When a paragraph ends, the small point should be over. If the reader arrives at the same conclusion multiple times, it’s dull and a dead giveaway that the author does not care about the material.

Genuine Interest

This is the key factor in writing well. You have to engross yourself in the writing. Always make sure you are putting effort to feel something, anything about the topic before you begin. If your interest is being shy and you are tempted to expand contractions to meet your word count, there are a couple go-tos to help make yourself interested.

Compare Statistics

Statistics is a magical world. There’s nothing that sparks interest quite like inferring conclusions from numbers. It is difficult to explain, but you know when an article is backed up by real statistics that that article just came to life.

poowpyouw

Relate Personally

Remember something related to the material that personally happened to you so that you can evoke real emotions to use for solid writing. This goes back to the days when you thought your third grade teacher was very interested in your personal life but really just wanted to prompt you to write well.

Add further ideas in the comments!

Writing for Video Games

It isn’t difficult to see why there might be a need for a writer for video games. There is often a story that needs to be written for the game, usually with character dialogue. The joining of two hobbies, writing and gaming, seems like the perfect pair for many.

How much of a demand is there for video game writers? At the time this post was written (July 4th, 2016), Ninja Division Publishing LLC is seeking one position as a game developer and studio writer in Garden City, ID. The requirements seem easy for the average creative writer: good communication skills, knowledge of basic programs, good organization (arguably the hardest one for creative types) and good customer service. The applicants only need a high school education as well. Just send a 500 word prompt for a specific choice in their game and your resume and cover letter.

As most applicants will quickly realize, writing video games is a competitive field. Yes, yes, most jobs are. Even your local restaurants have people fighting over dishwasher positions the moment one comes open. However, video game writing is on another level. The closer a field is to a popular hobby, the more difficult the jobs are to obtain.

Always apply anyway. Do not get discouraged if you get rejected/ignored by every single opening you apply to. Just move on and keep writing and playing video games. Rejection is the most frequent response even the most successful people get. You’re not a failure just because you haven’t achieved getting paid for your ultimate passion. Remember my previous article about fame-seeking?

And for the sake of your self-esteem, measure your success realistically. If you fail at being a video game writer, welcome to the majority of the population that succeeds in other fields. It doesn’t really mean anything to be rejected. I doubt I could bird watch for a living, but I can still do it my way on my downtime.

birdwatch

For any video game writers who may be reading–how did you break into the field? Do you still enjoy it?

What Bird is the State Bird in Seven Different U.S. States?

Answer: the cardinal. This red or brown pointy-headed bird is the state bird in Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky and Illinois.

Each of these states are probably not concerned with their individuality being compromised, because the cardinal is said to have an “accent” when it sings. It sounds strange and incredible, but it’s a commonly observed phenomenon among birds. Bird songs tend to vary from region to region among the same species of bird.

Some birdwatchers have a cult-like following to this bird. Think about it. The songs of these little fellas have probably permeated every outdoor event in sections of the United States for as long as you’ve been alive. I bet this video below sounds familiar to you.

Compare it to the blue jay to get a small picture about why so many birders despise blue jays. (It really doesn’t help that they eat paint off of houses).

Personally, I think they are hilarious. They remind me of crows, which many think of distastefully. The reason why they are such big bullies in the backyard is because they really are big brainiacs and know how to get what they want.

Cardinals may be birdbrained, but they have a sweet, inoffensive tweet, and the males are breathtakingly beautiful in the snow. I truly believe their winter beauty is why they are such a popular state bird. Observe in the next snow.

The Pursuit of Technical Writing

“If you want to become a technical writer, get an engineering degree.”

I believe there is much truth to this statement. Technical writing does not rely on writing skills so much as an understanding of material. While a technical education may not necessarily be a job requirement for technical writing, it would almost certainly be more valued by employers than creative writing. However, if you choose this route, keep in mind that any writing opportunity is going to pay less than other options in your field.

This advice is mostly applicable to recent graduates or those just starting out. Once you’re in a field, it really doesn’t matter if you majored in music, happy baby birds or only have a high school education. If you can slap 5 years of experience on the table in, say, pharmaceutical technical wtiting, you are pretty much golden.

nest

I am not one to put down a creative writing degree, for as long as you are resourceful and determined, you can find something to suit your needs. Many journalistic opportunities, for example, prefer a journalism/mass communication background, but they will gladly accept a talented creative writer.

Technical writers, feel free to comment and share your career path!