You're not building a brand; you're collaborating.
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.