Wednesday, November 15, 2017

How Beginning Writers Can Build a Platform P.3: Benefits of Branding

In the previous two posts of this series, I shared with you the purpose of a platform and how you can find your core readership on social media. In today’s post, I want to help you understand the benefits of branding yourself as an author—and how doing so can help you establish your author platform.

First of all, what is an author’s brand?
The term “brand” might bring to mind visuals of logos and advertisements of companies. What comes to mind when you think about McDonalds? Probably the golden arches, a (rather frightening) clown, and happy meals. This is the visual aspect of McDonald’s brand. It’s the image that comes to mind when we think of that fast food chain.

However, brand reaches deeper than just surface-level appeal. Brand is the reputation that a company establishes for itself. McDonalds has established itself as an inexpensive and quick fast food restaurant that accommodates to kids and families. This brand doesn’t just reflect the company of McDonalds, but it also tells the customer what they can expect from it. Customers know the benefits they’ll receive when choosing to eat at McDonalds.

That’s what branding is about: 1) Creating an intentional reputation with customers, and 2) Catching target customers’ attention by offering something of value to them. (Which is usually stemmed from asking the question, what does my target readership need, and how can I provide this for them?)

Now, let’s apply this to our brand as an author.

Even if you aren’t a published author, everything you post online—and even the presence you carry at conferences and events—will contribute to your reputation whether you like it or not. So why not be intentional with this reputation? Why not use it to garner attention from your target readership in a way that will contribute to your overall platform?

If you have no idea what your brand is, it’s never too late to begin establishing one. (Just keep in mind that, as an aspiring author, this brand might transform over time as you begin to discover yourself as an author.)

Here’s how aspiring authors can approach the branding process…

1. Create a visual that reflects your genre and brand.

If you write thrillers, consider sticking with a dark color scheme on your website and social media. Your visual brand is a combination of your color scheme, designs, images, and fonts you choose on your website and social media.

Consider researching various colors so you can select the ones that subconsciously give off the reputation you hope to establish. (For example, the color blue is calming, and it’s often associated with faith. This is why I chose to use it for my online visual brand.)

2. Portray your unique characteristics, personality, interests, and hobbies in a way that will set you apart from others.

Another benefit of branding is the opportunity it gives us to stand apart from the crowd. This is especially useful for the aspiring authors who hope to make a unique impression to readers, agents, and publishers.

Thankfully, each of us have been gifted with uniqueness, so we don’t have to try hard to allow these unique traits to shine through. Be yourself, because this authenticity is what will appeal and connect with your readers.

For example: Are you obsessed with cats? Don’t be ashamed to post cat pictures and videos. You might even consider including a picture of a cat in your website theme (perhaps one that’s sitting next to an old typewriter and a mug of steaming tea).

Your readers will connect with you because of who you are, so don’t be afraid to embrace this when it comes to establishing your brand!

3. Offer value to your reader.

This is probably the most important aspect of branding. Why? Because the core purpose of creating a brand is to hook your target readership into following you and purchasing your books. In other words: Creating a brand isn’t about the author. It should instead be focused on meeting the needs and interests of your target readership.

This is why authors create taglines for their websites; they want their readers to know what they’ll glean from their books.

My tagline, for example, reads as the following: Inspirational yet authentic young adult fiction. I want to be known for writing books that inspire teens yet remains authentic when it comes to reflecting their youth culture. On my website, I wrote a brief “introduction” (for lack of better word) to my reader. I tell them what they’ll get out of the books that I write, and I did this by approaching a need that many teens have—and that is the longing to feel accepted and understood. (You can read this on my website by clicking here.)   

To summarize: It’s tough for today’s author to break into the crowded marketplace. That’s why it’s important now more than that us writers effectively brand ourselves in a way that sets us apart, contributes to our platform, reflects the books we write, and offers value to our readership. If this is done successfully, then the online platform we build will consist of potential buyers of our books—and the time we spend building our platform will be effective and worthwhile in the long run.      

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How do you brand yourself? Have you struggled with effectively communicating your brand? Leave your questions and thoughts in the comments!

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1 comment:

  1. I have definitely struggled with effectively communicating my brand, though I think it's something I'm getting better at. I really adore the sea,so I've been trying to incorporate that into my brand.

    Then I also adore medieval England, and some of my stories are set there as well, so I struggle as to what I ought to stick with.

    And I really adore cats, and have one of my own, I just don't want to spam my followers with cat pictures.


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