With Katie Birks Branding & Design
As an author there are many advantages to building a brand early on in your writing career. In fact, creating a brand is relevant before you even publish your first book: it will support you while you’re growing your audience and establishing yourself as a professional author. In this blog, we’ll take a closer look at what branding is and how it can help you.
A brand is created and developed from the following:
The perception of your business (author)
The overall experience a customer has (i.e. buying your book, community activity)
Everything your business is and does… (as an author)
Author branding is a combination of how you connect with your readers and the experiences your audience have, online and offline. Whether they’re buying your books from a local bookshop or the e-book version from Amazon, Roku or similar, you’ll want to consider every experience your customers could have and how you can improve that. Your branding will help determine how you present your books and image to the public, so it's good to be clear on where you have a presence and consider that when building your brand. For example, the genre you write will be important to consider too – how should the genre and style you write effect how you present yourself to your readers?
Creating an author brand gives you a solid base that can support you across digital and print, as well as in-person and online opportunities. It gives you everything you need to build your audience authentically, from your mission statement all the way to the colours and font you’ll use when sharing your message and story.
It's not just about the logo…
You may have heard this before, but your brand isn’t just a logo. It’s also not just your pen name existing in signature format – although this looks great as a visual brand element! A brand stems from perception and association, which should be developed at the start of your journey. Before you jump into any visual design, decide on the customer journey you want to create for your readers, then decide how you’re going to do that.
Your brand consists of many parts, but
we can put them into two sections: brand strategy and brand identity.
Brand strategy is the brain behind your brand. It includes things like your mission statement (where you are now and what you do), brand vision (where do you want to be in 5 years), your messaging (language and tone of voice), your author values, ideal customer and much more. Your strategy helps you to form a structure for the basis of your brand and helps inform how you interact with your customers going forward. This is where consistency is key. The strategy doesn’t have to be complex or overly detailed, but by going through the process you’ll gain a clearer idea of what you want to share with your audience. This will help bucket loads when you start to think about colour, logos and graphics!
TOP TIP #1: Finding and keeping your audience When you find where your ideal customer hangs out, start to engage and deliver what you set out in your brand strategy. This will provide value to your audience and help them gain confidence in you quickly, which will lead to trusting your brand.
Consistency is Key
Next up is brand identity. This is where you align your strategy with your visuals. The visual elements can be anything from your logo or favicon, colour palette, photography, printed materials and much more. The brand identity is where you show your author personality to the world and give a hint of your author style through different visual elements.
Together the brand strategy and identity determine how your readers, publishers and other authors see you. If you don’t present yourself using your own branding and leave it to chance, someone else (or the internet) will decide what kind of author you are. By being intentional and public about your mission and values, you’ll help yourself build a loyal and trusting community.
There’s good reason for this: 87% of consumers will purchase a product solely because of brand values. What you do and say through your brand can determine your success. For example, think about a purchase you did (or didn’t) make based on the message, ethics, or values of a company. It could be an airline, cosmetics, or even a celebrity who endorsed the brand that did (or did not do) something to influence you making that purchase. It’s the same with authors. By controlling your brand, values, and messaging, you can consistently show up in the way you want to present yourself and your stories to the public.
TOP TIP #2: Creating a consistent online presence Using your visual identity after writing out a brand strategy is one of the best ways to create a consistent online presence and engage with your audience. Brand consistency (such as colours, photography and messaging style) will help you improve recognition and form trust to connect with your audience on a deeper level.
As we talk through what branding consists of and how it can support your author journey, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t all have to happen at once. For example, you may not know yet where your target market hangs out, where you want to be in 5 years’ time, or be in a position to design and/or finance a large brand and strategy project. So, it’s important to remember that you can focus on the “right now” and build and develop your brand over time. As your business grows, your audience, book sales and online presence will grow too. That’s when you may feel ready to develop your branding further. That’s all part of your unique author journey.
TOP TIP #3: Bridging the gap between the real world and online Branding helps to create an experience for your readers and supports you being found for new opportunities across all kinds of platforms (both online and offline). Your brand can improve customer motivation and direction, so don’t limit yourself solely to the digital world.
First steps for building a brand
Building your brand and a consistent online presence before you’ve published your first book may feel overwhelming. To get started, here are some simple steps to start your brand journey.
1. Start by asking questions that will help you form a brand strategy (this is just a short list to get you started).
Why is being an author important to you?
Where do you want to be in 2/5/10 years’ time?
What do you want your readers to hear/feel/think when they see your brand/name?
Who is your ideal customer?
Where does your target market hang out? (offline and online)
Put your thoughts together in a document which you can later build out into a full brand strategy over time.
2. Decide how you will move forward. Once you have a basic brand strategy mapped out, you can decide on the visuals.
Make a vision board somewhere like Pinterest (or by hand) to work out the type of colour, imagery, fonts and mood you want your brand to have.
Do you have the skills to create this yourself or will you outsource your branding?
Are there some things you can do now and then improve over time.
3. Move the needle bit by bit!
Branding is something you can do one step at a time and continue to develop alongside your growth as an author. Do one thing today to begin your brand journey!
Thanks for sticking with me and I hope you found this article helpful.
Would you like to hear more?
I’m in the process of building a resource hub for authors, focused on brand and website design. What do you want to hear more of? Drop me a message here if there’s something you’d like to ask. I want to hear from you!
Hey! I’m Katie, I create websites, branding and book covers to help authors,
individuals and professionals share their story.