I read a news article recently about Beyonce winning a legal battle to trademark her daughter’s name, preventing a wedding planning company from calling themselves “Blue Ivy”. Although some people will roll their eyes and say, “this is nothing more than a celebrity stunt to get press coverage!”. However, Beyonce understands the strength of a brand and Blue Ivy is not just her daughter’s name it is her brand and this is the reason why celebrity parents give their children unusual names like Suri, Rumer, North, Stormi and Harper Seven. The celebrity parents know that their children are born into a privileged position and having a strong brand name and identity will set those children apart and give them a platform to launch their careers. If you are a relatively unknown or new author trying to make a living from writing books or at least recoup any money you spent to bring that book to market, then you must understand how to market yourself by building your brand. People don’t buy books based on who published it, they buy brands, publishers invest in brands and agents represent brands. Therefore, authors must spend time defining and building their brand identity. Here are five things to remember when building your brand.
Understanding what a Brand is.
A brand is an intangible asset that holds value. A brand is everything that people perceive you as. It should reflect your personality and align with your genre and the message you wish to spread. It is everything you stand for, how you make people feel when they interact with you in person, through reading your book or visiting your website and social media channels. Every word you write, the colour and font you use, tag lines and your logo. These are all brand elements that should be kept consistent over time to help people recognise you.
A brand is essentially a promise to customers about what they are going to get in terms of quality and how you are different from the competition. If you have not considered the brand elements you use, it is important to do so, as collectively this communicates a message about who you are.
Strong Brand Storytelling Will Help You Stand Out from the Crowd
We are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages daily through the internet, on the radio, print media, billboards, posters, in stores, etc. To make your brand stand out from the crowd, you must connect with people on a deeper level. This is where brand storytelling comes in. It is the cohesive narrative that you develop over time to convey the facts and emotions that gives customers reasons to buy your book and become a loyal fan. This means that some planning will need to happen in terms of scheduling content to share with your audience. For example, if you have a blog, you can decide how often you want to upload new content (once or twice a month) then make a list of topics you would like to cover, so you know what you must write every month. Posting good quality content will help your website rank higher on search engines and make your website more visible. The same is true for running successful social media campaigns; having a plan in place so that you know what you will post when you will post it and what you wish to achieve from that post, will help you make your efforts more targeted. Just posting a picture of your book cover and a link for people to buy the book, is not going to get enough engagement and will not lead to book sales. Posting the kind of content that your target demographics enjoy, will lead to a larger following and help you sell more books. This all sounds like a lot of work, but once you have a solid strategy in place, planning becomes easy and you will see that it is more achievable than you first thought. Lotus Sharp can help you create a strategy and plan to ensure your brand storytelling is consistent.
Understand the Difference Between Brand Voice and ToneOnce you understand who your target audience is (who you are speaking to), you must then decide how you are going to speak to them. Your brand voice refers to your mission statement and message, this should be unchanging and consistent. Your brand tone may differ slightly according to the emotion you wish to invoke to deliver a specific message. Having a clear understanding of your communication strategy before you start, will help you to remain consistent with your brand voice and tone. For example, if I was promoting a book aimed at women to promote body positivity my mission (brand voice) would remain the same; I want to help women, who do not conform to unrealistic beauty standards, love and accept themselves. However, the tone of my pitch to young millennials on social media will be completely different from my pitch to a woman’s magazine.
For the young millennials I might post:
“OMG Ladies!! Who would’ve thought that I could start loving my stretch marks!! This book is EVERYTHING! Let’s promote body positivity by leaving a comment about what parts of your body you want to love more?
My goal for this post is to increase engagement and to identify potential customers. Whereas my article pitch to the woman’s magazine might be more formal.
Can Hollywood do more to encourage diversity in female leads and help combat the unrealistic beauty standards that contribute towards poor female mental and physical heath?
My goal for this article is to gain coverage in a woman’s magazine to increase my brand visibility and improve my brand reputation as being an authority on the subject.
Body positivity is at the heart of both messages, but the tone is completely different because I understand the target demographic and what I want to achieve from each communication.
Protecting Your Brand Reputation is Vital
When someone mentions the name Stephen King, Dan Brown, JK Rowling, Danielle Steel, James Patterson, or Benjamin Zephaniah, you make an instant association based on your own experiences reading their work or based on what others have said about them. If any of these successful authors published a new book using a different pen name, regardless of how strong the narrative is, that book would be unlikely to sell as many copies then if they used the strength of their brand. Equally, if any of these authors said or did anything offensive, controversial or illegal, it would damage their brand reputation and it would negatively impact their sales. We have seen this recently with the backlash JK Rowling received due to her views about trans people and single sexed spaces. She went from national hero to an evil villain with just a few Tweets. People were calling for her books to be burned and to boycott the sale of future work. So, you must remain mindful of protecting your brand reputation at all times.
Your Brand Will Take Years to Develop
If you research any established author, you will see that their journey to building their brand reputation was not straight forward, it did not happen overnight, and they all overcame many setbacks and disappointments along the way. If you are serious about pursuing a career as an author, you must commit a great deal of time and effort into building and nurturing your brand. You must also remember that this will likely take many years of hard work, persistence and above all resilience. It is unrealistic to expect to build a massive following in your first few years as a published author so do not give up if you fail to see results, there is always something else you can try. You must spend time gathering evidence and developing content, so you must consistently allocate time to do this. Even if you aim to secure one result every month or two, you will slowly build up a bank of evidence. Lotus Sharp can coach you and help you set achievable goals to focus your time and efforts each month. If you had time to write a book, then you have time to promote it! As your brand recognition improves, so will your book sales.
If you need help or advice on building or improving your brand, Lotus Sharp is happy to help.