Branding is a buzzword these days. A friend of mine who’s a linguistic anthropologist went to a job hunt workshop, and was there told to develop a “brand” for herself as she wrote up her resume. If she needs to do it, I daresay we all do, but as an author, where do we start?
The logical place is our book covers. Many of us hire designers for our covers and may therefore hire different designers for different books, so how do we ensure a consistent brand? I went about this by branding the style of my name.
I write romance of various flavors, so I went on Amazon and stared at romance covers until I was crosseyed. I noticed that most names were all caps/small caps, and had a little bit of an extra curve to the letters. Then I enlisted a friend who is a graphic designer to work out the details, and she provided me with a vector file with two versions of my name:
Because this is a vector file (.eps) I can send it to any cover designer and it will render my name in any size, any pixel density, and any color they want.
The next logical place to have our brand is on our websites. Here again, I used my name styled as the designer styled it, but that alone says only a little about me. On my site I had to round out my brand, and my friend, the designer, had me write a page brief on how I wanted people to think of me and my writing. At first a drew a blank, but then the ideas began to flow.
My romance can be classed as “clean” romance, and boy do I not like that label. Too many people think clean romance is for people with “issues,” whereas I want to hearken back to some of the classics. There was the genesis for my site design, which is still a work in progress as I write this. Here’s the header, though:
I wanted to evoke the image of an intellectual woman, someone with a lot of classical training and old world sensibilities who is nevertheless accessible to modern readers.
She might be a little different in her outlook and life experience, but she isn’t closed minded or judgmental.
The final touch for me was the picture of myself. I happen to be very uncomfortable in front of the camera, so I decided to turn this into an opportunity to caricature myself.
I’m no good at a detailed self portrait, though, so I chose a few elements that should make the association clear: the shape of the glasses (which I didn’t used to wear for public events, but will now), the red lipstick (which is easy enough to put on before any author event), the mole on my left cheek, and the square jaw. The other elements, such as the eye and hair color, are mine too, but hardly distinctive. The style of the illustration I took from covers of chick lit books, as many of my books fall in that sub-genre.
And there, altogether, is the brand I put together for myself. My site color scheme and images are also my Twitter wallpaper and my Wattpad wallpaper. The caricature of myself is on my Google+ account, my Goodreads author account, and my Facebook fan page. It’s easy enough to find real pictures of me, too, I don’t want to appear inhuman, just consistently branded. Regardless of where you start in your branding, the most important element is to have one consistent image you want to cultivate.
Once you know what that image is, then you can start to innovate creative ways of getting it across.
What about you? Do you think branding matters? How do you approach the branding challenge?