As you may know, Tom Clancy died yesterday. While I was not a fan of his literary catalog, I applaud the vision of his personal brand.
Clancy’s breakthrough moment came in 1984 when he published The Hunt for Red October, which laid the seeds for his 100 million or so books now in print with 17 of them being on the NY Times Best Seller list. He had success in movies as well with nearly $800 million in gross for four movies and had an estimated 76 million copies of video games using his name out as well. (OK, I exaggerate.) There was even a line of board games that bore his name.
Few authors have had this kind of success in such a variety of different mediums. (Stephen King is the other one who comes to mind.) While there have been authors who have been successful in books and in movies, few have moved into gaming, which had something to do with Clancy’s desire to remain consistent and stick to what he knew – technology, military and how to tell a story. Books, movies and games were all related to his core competency. Each allowed him to express himself in unique yet similar ways.
It is this that brands should understand and try to emulate.
One of the primary keys to branding is to remain consistent (along with being meaningful). So is remaining true to who/what you are. In this modern age of viral videos and guerrilla marketing, marketers often forget that slow and steady can still win the race. Preference is not built on the latest YouTube video. It is built on a relationship with customers that must be developed over time.
What Clancy understood was that, if he remained true and consistent, people would know what they were getting no matter the medium. Furthermore, it enabled him to gain greater preference for the brand of Tom Clancy as his customers could approach his brand from a variety of different touch points. No matter how you were exposed to his brand, your next interaction with it, regardless of medium, would be consistent with the last.
Good content and the stringent consistency and drive to stay true to himself were the keys to his success. If businesses could do the same, they too might be so lucky.