With so many other authors vying for the same readers, what's the best way to stand out from the crowd? ALLi Partner member Leila Dewji offers some simple advice to help you develop a distinctive brand, inspired by some familiar names…
Branding: How the big companies do it
What values do you think of when we say ‘Rolex’?
OK, now try IKEA, MTV and. Nike.
Most of you will have similar answers because these organisations spend millions creating and conveying their brand values.
And why do they spend so much? Because they know how important it is to be in control of your image. They want customers to know they can rely on them, whether that is for good customer service, performance or fun etc.
Why Authors Need Branding
I’m just an author. What does that have to do with me?
Whether you like it or not, all authors have a brand that will be judged by readers, media and booksellers. Actively positioning and presenting yourself as you wish to be seen is much better than taking a back seat and waiting to see how people label you.
If you want people to think you are funny and who read your book for a laugh, you need you be creating funny content, and your design needs to be lighthearted. If you want to be seen as a financial expert, you might want to leave the jokes out of it and comment on what is happening in the markets instead. You would also need a crisper design and more business-like tone.
How to Create and Maintain Your Author Brand
Sounds good, how do I do it?
Your brand is made up of many aspects that you can be in control of. The downloadable worksheet below will help you establish your brand values and identify what it is that readers will most want from you.
View or Download the PDF version of the Author Brand Worksheet
Download the Excel Version of the Author Brand Worksheet
Keep Your Brand Values Close
Once you have completed the worksheet and established your values you should CONSTANTLY remind yourself of them. This is just simple psychology that makes you more likely to deliver them.
- Write them on a Post-It note and stick that to your computer.
- Set a weekly reminder on your phone so they flash up every Monday.
- Read them before you create any content to make sure you stay on message.
It’s All in the Delivery
It’s not just what you say but the way you say it. Think about how your target readers like to speak and be spoken to. Think about the types of media your target readers like to read, and copy that tone. If you are targeting readers of The Economist, you will need a different style and tone than if you are targeting readers of Good Housekeeping. Whether you decide on a formal or chatty style, you will need to be consistent anywhere you are communicating, eg your blog, your Amazon page, your tweets, etc.
Look the part
Your visual identity needs to be consistent across your whole author platform. This helps build reader recognition, especially for an unknown author. Your visual identity should reflect your values and attract your target readers – your designer knows your values.
Your identity needs to be uniform throughout:
- Your book cover
- Your book interior (fonts etc.)
- Your author website/blog
- Your social media profiles
- Your business cards
- Any promotional materials eg postcards, bookmarks etc
- Your email signature/letterhead
Branding Case Study
One of my favourite branding projects was The Young Officers’ Compendium of Mess Games by Captain Stanhope.
The book is a parody of a Victorian gentlemen’s pocket book, which celebrates army bar games. The tone of writing is witty, posh, cheeky and very British. We wanted the brand to make people think of: formal dinners, British institutions, mischief and British nostalgia. From that, we developed a quirky, cheeky, chappish, British brand that permeates through everything, from how the book looks inside and out, to the design and tone of the website and marketing. materials.
If you would like my company to help you develop your author brand, or any other element of author marketing, please feel free to get in touch – email [email protected].
(Editor's note: As the BBC likes to say in the interests of impartiality, other similar companies are avaiable!)