Branding is much more than your logo or your book cover designs—it is the entire experience you create for your readers. It includes your genre, tone, and writing style, both in your books and on your Webpage and social media. It’s how you present yourself at book signings and presentations, at conferences, and on radio or television. Think of it as your fingerprint that you leave behind on everything. That’s why it’s important to be consistent to your brand.
Coco-Cola is easily recognizable. Their brand strategy includes taste, logo, bottling, and slogan. Though the color of the script may change depending on the product, the consumer easily recognizes the drink as “the real thing.” Coke has become iconic because of its consistency. It has not changed its logo script since 1866.
Don’t confuse branding with marketing. Your brand is what the public perceives as your value; your marketing brings this value to the public’s attention. In other words, figure out your core values (your brand), and then hammer them out with your marketing.
“Marketing unearths and activates buyers. Branding makes loyal customers, advocates, even evangelists, out of those who buy.” James Heaton
Can your readers easily recognize your work? Until you figure out what long-term value you offer your readers, it will be difficult to maximize your brand.
How to develop your author brand
Be authentic. Show your personality in your writing and in public. The more interesting you are to your readers, the greater the appeal.
Position yourself as an expert. As an author, you most likely have a passion for your subject and an opinion about the topic. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, you are a subject matter expert. Share your knowledge in forums, on Facebook and other social media, and on your webpage. Engage other experts on LinkedIn or Quora. Sign up to Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Put on a panel discussion with others in your field, and then present these in person or on a podcast. Guest post, give interviews, and sign up with speaker’s bureaus.
Writing and speaking with passion and authority will distinguish from others. This distinction is part of your brand.
Read more. Reading will help you refine your craft and increase your knowledge and opinions about your subject. Use what you learn to distinguish yourself from other subject matter experts.
Write more. The more you write, the better chance you have to build trust among your readers, to show them what makes you unique, and to let them see your personality. This trust, uniqueness, and personality is your brand.
Be consistent. Developing your brand takes time. That’s why it’s necessary to be genuine. If you are not true to yourself, it will be difficult in the long run to maintain your public persona. If you try to be be something you’re not, you will confuse your readers, and perhaps even fail to develop a brand, or worse, create one that is inconsistent with your overall strategy. If this happens, don’t fret. Developing a brand is a work in process. Revise your thinking in light of your long-range goals.
Be consistent not only in the value you offer your readers but also in the way you appear. Use the same photo on all social media. Write in the same style, whether in your books, on a post, or on Facebook. Let your personality shine. If you do this honestly, your brand will be consistent.
If you are writing in different genres, you may want to develop a different pen name. Joanna Penn writes books on writing and the business of writing while J. F. Penn writes thrillers. Joanna Penn not only uses a different pen name, she developed a unique brand for each name. The look and feel of each Webpage is different, as are the blog topics and author’s photo.
Whether you develop such a brand distinction depends on your strategy and long-range goals. What is important is that you develop these goals and remain true to yourself, your passion, and your readers.
Have you defined your brand? How did your brand yourself? How is your brand developing? Please comment.