Updated: May 12, 2022
What you need to know about branding and how/why you're doing it wrong.
In the last few years, one of the newest trends has been brand-building for authors. I think it's a great idea. Had I discovered what a brand was and how to develop one earlier, there's no telling the heights I could've reached in years 1-4 of my career, versus the years 5-7. Now, this is in no way to distastefully tell someone that they're wrong for the way they choose to brand. This blog is simply to bring acknowledgement and awareness to the multi-faceted beast of BRAND BUILDING.
I see so many authors/writers who think their brand is just about their logo, their aesthetics, their "graphics". Now, I won't say it isn't a part of it, but it isn't the biggest/largest part. When building a brand, it's almost like building a person. You have to decide what this person is made of. I like to think that when God created us, he looked over the characteristics and traits that could be given and decided which ones to give to each of us for our specific needs/purposes in life.
Branding is the same.
When building a brand, yes it's important to know what, visually, your audience will be drawn to. Branding is about setting yourself apart from the rest. It's about showcasing what the fuck you bring to the table. But, it's also about your voice. It's about your message. It's about how you convey that message. It's about the "promise" you leave behind for your readers, customers, etc.
I see authors/writers who seem to know "visually" at times, what they want. But their message, aesthetic, etc isn't indicative of what they're hoping to showcase. A lot of authors are building collaborations without even knowing it.
For example, if there are five people in a room, who work in the same building, it's likely that they dress similarly perhaps because of their choice of workplace. It's likely that they have similar routines, again, because of the workplace, but those five people are NOTHING alike, so why would they operate the same and hope to stand out?
If you're branding, and your logo looks the same as everyone else's, you're not branding--you're collaborating. Why? Because you didn't do anything to "stand out". You did everything to "fit in". Your brand is about showcasing YOU! How can you showcase YOU if you don't even know who you are individually?
I like to say branding is equal parts introspection, transparency, beliefs/morals/values and authenticity. A lot of authors/writers struggle to build brands because they don't know who they are as people, and I'm not talking about titles. You're a mother. Great, but that's not "who" you are. You're a hairstylist. That's great, but that's not "who" you are.
Who you are is what you believe.
Who you are is how you conduct yourself.
Who you are is the person you and you alone wake up and go to sleep with. YOURSELF.
Now, this isn't to say that you can't build a brand by "fitting in", because of course you can. But long-lasting brands praise individuality.
If you go to the same cover designer as 50+% of the genre you write in, how are you building individuality? Readers will forget the cover because it blends in with the other 5,000 they've seen that day.
If you're using the same logo designer as 50+% of the authors of the genre you write in, what is helping you stand out? How can your logo be any different if you're getting it from the same person who has the same "style". Every designer has a "style", and instead of being praised for YOUR individuality, all you did was help someone else build their brand and portfolio, while you have a logo and brand aesthetic that looks like everyone else's.
A lot of authors/writers are struggling to build brands because they don't want to step outside of what they know to get what they need. Trends are important to follow, but trends fade. Can your brand withstand the tests of time?
Remember, your brand has the power to hurt/help your career. Here are a few tips that can help you with branding.
Figure out your voice. Your voice should ring bells. People should see your posts/words and KNOW you wrote/said them without you being attached to them physically. This will come with consistency.
Identify who you're trying to reach. Your target audience might change if you're not a niche author, which is okay, but instead, identify a brand audience, instead of a niched audience.
Understand your message/promise. What is the promise you leave behind for your readers? What do you want them to take away from your brand? the way you communicate this is important.
What is the purpose of your brand? Are you writing just for the hell of it? What is your purpose?
Most importantly, every logo doesn't need glitter and shine. Just like wearing your bonnet to the grocery store screams GHETTO, all that glitter and shiny stuff says "amateur".
It's important to know your audience, your competitors, and your successors to learn/build on what has been laid before you. You don't have to reinvent the wheel; you just need to MAKE IT YOUR OWN.
Branding is the first step in marketing. A lot of authors/writers are struggling with advertising because they're trying to push a product, instead of introducing a brand. :)
If you're ready to identify your brand, schedule your brand consultation today to get started. Literary GPS would love to help you identify brand strategies and help you build a brand that will withstand trends, fads, and slow periods. :)