The word “brand” is sometimes, maybe often misunderstood. Corporations use it all of the time. So do authors. But what really does one need to do or say to develop and promote the right brand?
Your brand is your essence – your voice, your appearance, your message your experience. It is who you are viewed to be and it is built on facts and perceptions of those facts. It is a blend of substance and style. It is no one singular thing, but a brand is dominated, by a few key, defining attributes. Brand is about how you are positioned and perceived.
So what is your author brand? Says who?
Your brand can only be based on what people see from you and about you. It is not what or who you think you are or what you hope to become. It is right now. It is what’s out there that shapes people’s views about you.
Authors, too often, live in their own heads. They are clouded by fears, desires, ego, ignorance or over- confidence. They really can’t see what others see about them and they under– or over-estimate the value of what they say and do – or don’t say and do.
So how does one get a more accurate picture of themselves?
1. Ask people for honest feedback. This is challenging because the people we ask are too close to us and don’t want to hurt our feelings or they lack a discerning eye to provide the critical feedback that we need. Further, they have their own biases, weaknesses, or agendas that cloud what they see or convey. Still, some feedback is necessary.
2. Get the advice of a pro. Hire a branding strategist or consultant, or, if working with a marketer or book promoter, get their guidance. Some of them fail to be fully honest or they are just sub-par at what they do. Still, you need some professional guidance.
3. Read up on branding and start to assess yourself.
4. Compare yourself to the images of authors and brands that you admire or find appealing.
5. Think of your goals or mission. What do you want your brand to be? Now test the goal with the reality. Give yourself a report card look at your public footprint and judge yourself the way you judge others, and scrutinize everything from your level of attractiveness, friendliness, knowledge, reviews of your book, the look and function of your site, the size of your social media followers, the feel of your business card, and anything that people can be exposed to about you that leads to an opinion.
You can’t fix everything in a day, but don’t let that be your excuse for not trying.
You can’t spend a ton of money on your brand. You are not Apple, Starbucks, or Amazon, but you need to budget something towards this.
You can’t correct the past, but you can learn to shape the future. Remove stupid social media posts, exit out of groups that you don’t need to associate with, get a new wardrobe, take a course on public speaking, and get savvier about utilizing social media.
The biggest things to do for your brand are:
1. Rally around a specific message and vision.
2. Be consistent in what you say, and how you look. It should all serve the objective of your message.
3. Don’t get distracted or off-topic. Stay within your lane and don’t dilute your brand by going off in other trajectories. You can expand down the road.
4. Determine what your persona/image is going to be. Are you here to be informative, analytical, humorous, inspiring, or intellectual? Are you emotional, energetic, controversial or contrarian? Are you an advocate? Who are you?
5. Do you gain by limiting who you are? For instance, if you want to be seen as the expert, say, on dating, you can’t also be the expert on cars. Well, maybe, since they don’t conflict with one another, but it’s hard to be known for more than one thing, like a typecast actor. And you certainly can’t represent two conflicting areas, such as being known for fitness but being for a substance or lifestyle that is not so healthy, such as promoting a junk food brand.
Author branding takes some thought and effort, but it should derive naturally from whom you have already been. You don’t change overnight, but you try to shape a new message that bridges your past to the present – with an eye on the future.
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Brian Feinblum’s insightful views, provocative opinions, and interesting ideas expressed in this terrific blog are his alone and not that of his employer or anyone else. You can – and should -- follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at email@example.com. He feels much more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog ©2020. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he now resides in Westchester. His writings are often featured in The Writer and IBPA’s Independent. This was named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby http://blog.bookbaby.com/2013/09/the-best-book-marketing-blogs and recognized by Feedspot in 2018 as one of the top book marketing blogs. Also named by WinningWriters.com as a "best resource.” He recently hosted a panel on book publicity for Book Expo America.
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