You might ask why a brand is important for an author or self-publisher. In 2012, a study released by Bowker, the company that issues ISBNs (book identifier codes) stated that the number of self-published books has increased 287% since 2006. That translates to over 235,000 titles in print. Add in print-on-demand and e-books, and the estimated number of books published in the United States each year is over 3 million books.
How To Stand Out From The Crowd
As a self-publisher, you are in business. Your business brand is an asset. Your brand can help you sell books, get recognition, speaking engagements and multiply the effect of your marketing.
Your Brand Is Like A Bank Account
First you open your account by creating your brand. Next, you make deposits into it. Your deposits accrue interest. Your nest egg grows over time. Your account grows in value and builds equity as you engage your audience and they begin to make comments, give testimonials and endorsements of your offerings. You can use this brand equity to leverage your efforts. You are building a resource that you can tap into when you need it.
Your Brand Grows In Value When You Invest In It
Devoting time and energy consistently in actions that have measurable results is a smart way to go. Some of the best practices for adding value are:
- Staying in touch through regular communication with your audience
- Engaging in conversations with your customers.
- Your audience also adds value to your brand when they take action:
- Buy your books
- Give you an endorsement
- Recommend your book to their friends
- Write reviews that they share with others
- When they encourage others to like, follow or read what you have published.
Who Knows You?
As an author, you want to reach as many interested, potential readers as you can. A strong brand makes it easier for your audience to find you. Some of the ways you can make your brand/books discoverable include building a strong identity across media channels.
Where Readers See Your Brand:
- On your books
- Your website
- Business cards
- Trade show graphics
- Social media channels like YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+
Your brand projects the essence of what you offer to you to your readers. Design your brand with a specific person in mind. The more your know about your intended audience, the better you will be at creating a brand they can engage with. When people identify with a brand, they develop strong loyalties to them, like Apple, Volkswagen, and Levi’s. These companies also excel at conversations with their customers. They don’t just transmit, they dialog and are responsive to their customers feedback.
Think beyond your book. When developing your visual brand, think about how you might extend its use beyond your books. When selecting the elements that will go into your brand, visualize how you might use it, how long you plan to be in business, and how you would like people to remember you.
A Flexible Brand
When I design logos, I consider how they will be used, the size at which they will be seen most often, and, if it make sense to create a suite of designs based on the primary logo that includes subtle variations in anticipation of future needs.
See examples of the Grantham Press logo I created. There are four variations, suitable for different types of display.
I created several vertical and horizontal treatments of the logo I designed for Grantham Press. In each orientation, there is a version of the logo with the name of the company, and one without. This gives flexibility depending on where the logo is to be used. The icon can stand alone or be paired with type.
Your Brand Is More Than Your Logo
Your message, how you interact with your customers, what you sell, how you sell, your affiliations when you are wearing your publishers hat, all of the actions you take in the marketplace are part of your brand. Its what you stand for, hence, your “platform.”
Build a strong foundation with your brand and your “author platform” can soar to great heights.
Judy Baker uses engaging stories to build brands. Authors and speakers look to Baker for luscious logos, delicious designs and marketing strategy. Baker is the chief brand evangelist at brandvines, based in Sonoma.