In the beginning, the idea of branding had me stumped. I had some expert advice and read up on the subject as much as I could. Still, a lot of it was mystifying and confusing. I had no idea if I was doing it right.
Then it hit me. A brand is simply the very best part of you, your books, and your characters all rolled into one presence.
Recognizing a brand from the consumer side is easy.
Think Nike (swoosh). Instantly, you think of a product that helps you stay in shape. Or at least keeps your feet from hurting.
Think Godiva: rich, flavorful, eye-rolling mouth-gasm.
They have done an excellent job of giving you a mental image that encompasses what they do the second you hear the name. When a business is successful in doing this (and follows up with a quality product), they enjoy repeat business and word of mouth.
For authors, it’s not enough in today’s busy marketplace to have someone say, “Oh, so and so . . . she writes sci-fi. That guy over there, he writes mystery.” You want them to see images, feel emotions, and the more powerful that emotional connection, the more likely they are to share more with whoever they’re talking to.
You want readers to have an instant idea enveloping them when your novel is mentioned.
Nora Roberts. Romance. Red Roses. Steamy, sexy.
Stephen King. I automatically think, Don’t read at night. That’s a powerful part of his brand.
I just typed a few words, but you probably had several images, emotions, maybe even memories cross your mind—all in a flash. That’s the branding I’m talking about.
I have an image of my brand in my head. It’s of small white flowers, vintage lace, old tinny music, and finely dressed men and women, a place to steal away to from the modern world. It has a distinct feel and pulse. It’s of a sturdy generation that fought for a better life. And of course, there are cats just running around everywhere. Because where there are cats, there is happiness. But I digress.
I asked my Facebook fans what word(s) they thought of when my name or the book’s name was mentioned. Here’s what I got:
- Emotionally stirring
- Simplicity at its finest
- Crazy cats (Yes!)
- Black and white movies
- Family saga
- Vintage elegance
- Hard times
- Wild and crazy
- Strong and courageous
- Blue lavender
- Honor and pride
It thrilled me to read the replies. They are all personalized interpretations of the brand I am trying to project.
So, how do you create a brand for yourself? You’ll be happy to know, it isn’t that hard.
To start, fully utilize the era (or world if you play in sci-fi) your book is set in. Share music, pictures, fashion, facts, and history from that time. Create a visual and audible aura around your books—something that will pull people back when they see these things in daily life. Make sure that the visual aspects of your brand match your genre. This includes book covers, website, Facebook background, and any other graphics you put out. Consider using a special font that’s unique to your brand.
Give readers new material to look at, read, talk about, and share without repeating yourself or straying far from your era. In the digital age, this is easier than ever.
Draw from your novel. Was your main character left-handed? Be sure to post on National Lefties Day. (Does that exist?) Was your heroine into knives or swords? Find pictures, products, and articles and share them.
If your novel had a color scheme, what would it be? Create a color palette and use it exclusively.
Draw from the heartbeat of your novel, the main themes, as well as character attributes, and post corresponding material daily if you can.
Weave a bit of yourself into your brand. Me, I like cats. Correction, I love cats. I want to save every one. They’re a big part of my life and, therefore, my brand. Take your hobby or passion and sprinkle it in your postings. Your readers will appreciate knowing you deeper and you’ll naturally attract others that have a similar hobby.
Use your real voice when interacting. Fake is impossible to keep up forever. In this way, honesty and sincerity will be woven into your brand without your even trying. The same with gratitude if you give freely.
It can take awhile to develop your brand. Don’t feel pressured to make this happen overnight. The process will refine over time and you’ll expand your reach. Your words, the theme of your novels, and your own personality will blend together and evolve into an online presence that is your brand.
What does your brand look like? List some keywords in the comments.