author branding

31 03, 2014

Color Me What Color?

By |2018-11-15T09:52:08-06:00March 31st, 2014|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

After five years, I’ve decided it’s time to revamp my website.

Branding has been a big component of my thought process as I work with a web designer to create an updated site.

I’ve written several popular blogs on the topic. You can check out the three part series (1) here or (2) here or (3) here and another here.

I thought I had a good handle on branding until the designer asked me a basic question. What color scheme do I want? 

Now, I’m thinking lots about color.

Research shows

  • Strong color elicits strong visceral responses. For example, red is energizing, blue affects introspection, and golden light inspires the spiritual or enlightened.
  • Using colors can set up an audience or a reader to anticipate particular actions and/or things.

Ever notice how movie producers employ color to set the viewer’s expectations. Gwyneth Paltrow’s bedspread in Shakespeare in Love and Nick Cage’s bedspread in Moonstruck were a hot orange-red…a color which suggests heat and activity. And, guess what – lots of lusty activity happened on those orange-red bedspreads. 

Colors do symbolize and, either blatantly or subtly, enhance the mood of the reader or viewer.

Suddenly, color became be a critical component for my new brand. I found a color symbolism chart on a fascinating website and a . Canva also offers a page that teaches you about colors and color combination meanings. There’s another excellent explanation of color meanings here.

Only trouble is, with all that knowledge, I’m having a hard time deciding what color would make a viewer think of women’s fiction with romance and literary flair?

Here’s the list. You’ll see what I mean.

Red: Excitement, energy, passion, love, desire, speed, strength, power, heat, aggression, danger, fire, blood, war, violence, all things intense and passionate, sincerity, happiness (Only in Japan)
 
Pink symbolizes love and romance, caring, tenderness, acceptance and calm.
 
Beige and ivory symbolize unification. Ivory symbolizes quiet and pleasantness. Beige symbolizes calm and simplicity.
 
Yellow signifies joy, happiness, betrayal, optimism, idealism, imagination, hope, sunshine, summer, gold, philosophy, dishonesty, cowardice, jealousy, covetousness, deceit, illness, hazard and friendship.
 
Blue: Peace, tranquility, cold, calm, stability, harmony, unity, trust, truth, confidence, conservatism, security, cleanliness, order, loyalty, sky, water, technology, depression, appetite suppressant.
 
Turquoise symbolizes calm. Teal symbolizes sophistication. Aquamarine symbolizes water. Lighter turquoise has a feminine appeal.
 
Purple: Royalty, nobility, spirituality, ceremony, mysterious, transformation, wisdom, enlightenment, cruelty, honor, arrogance, mourning, temperance.
 
Lavender symbolizes femininity, grace and elegance.
 
Orange: Energy, balance, enthusiasm, warmth, vibrant, expansive, flamboyant, demanding of attention.
 
Green: Nature, environment, healthy, good luck, renewal, youth, spring, generosity, fertility, jealousy, inexperience, envy, misfortune, vigor.
 
Brown: Earth, stability, hearth, home, outdoors, reliability, comfort, endurance, simplicity, and comfort.
 
Gray: Security, reliability, intelligence, staid, modesty, dignity, maturity, solid, conservative, practical, old age, sadness, boring. Silver symbolizes calm.
 
White: Reverence, purity, birth, simplicity, cleanliness, peace, humility, precision, innocence, youth, winter, snow, good, sterility, marriage (Western cultures), death (Eastern cultures), cold, clinical.
 
Black: Power, sexuality, sophistication, formality, elegance, wealth, mystery, fear, evil, unhappiness, depth, style, sadness, remorse, anger, anonymity, underground, good technical color, mourning, death (Western cultures), austerity, detachment.

So what colors would you choose?

 

17 06, 2013

Primal Branding your Author Brand – Conclusions

By |2013-06-17T06:18:21-05:00June 17th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday|4 Comments

Metal Branding Brand FrontBrand is both a noun and a verb. The verb suggests you do something to be branded.

Once you publish a book, a writer is automatically branded, but branding is a fluid, ongoing process.

The techniques of primal branding that we’ve been discussing for the last few weeks offer a method to develop your author brand along with ways to stand out in a flooded market of book choices.

Primal branding uses what writers are best at—storytelling with certain added visual components. With branding, an author presents to the buyer, aka reader, what they can expect when they purchase your book.

Trouble is, writers equate branding with marketing and balk. Writers  (me included) would rather be writing than spend time on marketing!

Unfortunately, marketing is a necessary task. But selling your book shouldn’t be about flooding the Twitter feed with book promo tweets.

When people believe in you through your author brand, they become part of a fan group that surrounds your book. They are willing to advocate their belief in you to others.

Think about the last time you moved. How did you find out about the best grocery store? The best church? The best doctor or dentist? The auto mechanic who wouldn’t rip you off?

Most likely, from someone willing to advocate for their preference.

In other words, they delivered the form of marketing that traditional wisdom tells you money can’t buy.

Word of mouth.

Author branding offers a means to provide resonance and meaning for what we believe in and what we write about. A way to develop a fan base willing to sell our book, which is our product.

The question to ask yourself is whether you want to be just another book on the shelf, or do you want to become a desired and popular product?

If your answer is the latter, then author branding is for you.

10 06, 2013

Primal Branding your Author Brand Part 2

By |2013-06-10T05:12:28-05:00June 10th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday|0 Comments

In Author Branding Part One, we discussed of how to cultivate your author brand using principles found in Primal Branding.

Readers have zillions of books to choose from these days. Author branding is important if you want readers to choose your books.

primal branding

Primal Branding defines a code of seven elements needed to launch new products and services that people believe in – and it helps re-engineer existing products.

In Author Branding Part Two, we’ll discuss the final three codes Hanlon describes: rituals, anti-believers, and leader then identify ways to use with author brand development.

5)  RITUALS

According to Hanlon, rituals involve a repeated experience associated with the brand, whether it’s positive or negative. The kind of engagements build up a certain expectation about your brand and future experiences they can expect to have.

Rituals are important to an author’s brand because they provide interaction and a bond of togetherness between author and reader.

Sharing experiences and events through blogs, FB, Twitter, and other social media is the means for developing author rituals.

With all social media, reader expectation is important. Regular posting is important. Posting often is important too.

Do you share pictures of your writing desk, your pet, or other life events for your readers? These are part of your story. (Remember Hanlon’s first component-STORY? If you don’t, check here.)

Posting excerpts from your WIP, celebrating a new release or revealing a cover  makes readers a part of your writing process. How about sharing great reviews or fan comments?

Each of these, while we might not think of as rituals, add to your brand and offer a marketing tool for your books.

  • Step FIVE to develop your author brand: Share life events with your readers through social media.

6)  ANTI-BELIEVERS

According to Hanlon, for every belief system there is a group of anti-believers (ie Mac users vs PC; Republicans vs Democrats). Anti-believers identify who and what the brand is or is not. Anti-believers are folks who don’t agree with us. 

But without anti-believers, our standard is undefinable. We want to stand for something and our brand to mean something.

Anti-believers  can also give you a good idea of the direction you want to take your brand or which directions to avoid.

Readers have preferences. Romance genre vs literary mainstream, e-reader vs hard cover vs paperback. Our author brand should reflect those preferences we want to attract and entice the “anti-believers,” the ones who aren’t buying our work.

 Personally, I’ve discovered that my blog commenters more likely to share a contrary opinion than simply agreeing. Opposition can be a powerful connecting factor.

  • Step SIX in developing your author brand: Don’t limit yourself to only those who agree with you, but do make very sure your likes and dislikes are clear.

7)  LEADER

According to Hanlon, there needs to be a brand leader. Someone who sets out against all odds to recreate something from their vision.

Think Bill Gates, Steven Jobs. For your writing, it’s you.

You have the power to shape your brand the same as you create your plot and characters, your theme and opening lines.

  • Step SEVEN in developing your author brand: Your brand is like your writer’s voice. Voice develops the more your write. Your brand develops as you learn to tell your story.

Next Monday, conclusions on author branding with Primal Branding code.

YOUR TURN: Do you use Hanlon’s seven components in defining your author brand?

20 05, 2013

Your Name’s on the Book Cover. What Does it Mean? Author Branding Part 1

By |2013-05-20T05:41:57-05:00May 20th, 2013|Make Me Think Monday|3 Comments

Nothing is more exciting than seeing your name on the cover of a book you’ve written. You’ve devoted hours and hours to the creation of your “baby.” Holding that book in your hand or seeing the listing on an ebook seller site validates your hard work.  

 I still get excited when I hold my debut novel in my hand.

books_pendant

But what can a reader expect to find inside when they see your name on the book cover? 

Authors aren’t products like Pepsi or Coke, but readers do develop expectations about the content of novels based on author brand.  For example, what do you expect from books by Mark Twain, or Stephen King, or J.K. Rowling?

Me, I expect a southern tale from Mark Twain, a horror tale from Stephen King, fantasy and magic from a J.K. Rowling book and find exactly that.

 My TBR (to be read) pile is filled with all genres. On close examination, the highest stack is romance/women’s fiction books by authors like Debbie Macomber, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, or JoAnn Ross. These authors’ names on a cover promises a certain type of story and they deliver.

Their name is their brand.

Debbie Macomber will offer a story of relationships and enduring friendships. The reader will finish with a sense of love and hope.

Books by Susan Elizabeth Phillips are sure to be a romantic comedy adventure. I’ll grin and often laugh aloud as I follow SEP’s unique heroines to their HEA (happily ever after). 

JoAnn Ross’ stories offer strong, yet flawed women who overcome adversity, to-die for men-either emotionally wounded alpha shell guys or bad boys, and occasionally both, a very strong sense of setting, and a satisfying ending. 

Your name on your cover should signal YOUR author brand. Does it?

 If you don’t have any ideas how to do that, let me offer some suggestions on ways to cultivate an author brand using Primal Branding.

Author Patrick Hanlon, a marketing guru who’s worked on famous brands like IBM, LEGO, and Disney, equates product branding with a belief system. He says a strong brand contains seven primal codes: story, creed, icons, language, rituals, non-believers, and leader.

In this blog series on author branding, I’m going to discuss Harlan’s codes and how those codes relate to building an author brand.

1)    STORY

According to Hanlon, “Your brand needs to have a story or a background. It tells where your brand originated from and gives viewers or consumers something to connect with and something they can believe and trust in themselves.”

Readers especially love to know why and how an author got started writing.

That background story sets the whole idea of author brand in motion and is the chief reason all author websites and/or blogs should/must have about me pages.

The authors in my TBR pile all have their “story” somewhere on their blogs. Don’t believe me, click on the links and you’ll see.

  • Step ONE to develop your author brand. Share the story about how you started writing.

2)    CREED

According to Hanlon, “This tells what you believe in and how you might be different or similar to other belief systems out there.”

Story is not the same for all of us, neither is our creed.

Creed is what makes us, as a writers, willing to struggle to nurse our stories into existence, to persevere against headwinds that conspire against us?

Creed goes deeper than “origin” story, into the inner drive that led us to pursue a writing career. It’s what drives us to write.

Creed might be belief in the power of love. The frailty of the human condition. Comedy. The beauty of fine literature. Your fictional story will reveal what you believe most strongly.

Writers don’t necessarily state a creed, but a reader will pick up on our core beliefs through our story’s theme and premise.

  • Step TWO in establishing your author brand: Understand your core beliefs and develop your stories using those as your framework.

3)   ICONS

According to Hanlon,, “These are quick associations or flashes of meaning that are associated with your brand. They can be visual, a particular smell, sound – things like the taste of McDonald’s French fries, the sight of a Coca-Cola label or Mickey Mouse ears.”

Nora Roberts, bestselling author of more than 209 romance novels, brands her new release books with NR in a circle to clue readers the contains new content and is not a reissue. There may be other author icons, but Nora’s is the only author icon I know.

For most writers, author photos and consistent book cover design become logos.

These images stand for you and your work. It pays to have both your photo and your book cover done by professionals.

  • Step THREE for author branding: Use a professional photo for you book covers and on your website.

4)    LANGUAGE

According to Hanlon, “All belief systems or brands have their own set of language and words with a special meaning for those who buy into the belief system. If someone wants to be “part of the group,” they need to learn the associated words.”

Hanlon is talking about specialized words that denote special meaning for a particular brand group. Think soccer fans, computer geeks, doctors, truck drivers, etc. If you want to be part of any of those groups, you have to know the language.

I believe readers already know some language of authors. Not the craft details like POV, scene and sequence, story structure, etc., but a general knowledge of fiction genres and have personal preferences.

That’s why language is an important component of an author’s brand and why I believe a writer’s language must remain true to genre. Doesn’t matter what genre you choose to write, but you’ll not add readers if your language is not true to the genre you chose.

PhilipMartin in his blog, Discover Your Author’s Brand, offers a different take on Hanlon’s core component language, calling it “sacred words.”

Martin believes language equals “key phrases that inspire you or the mantras that you chant or the slogans that you pin next to your computer” and directs you to Maya Angelou’s website.

He points out that Angelou uses iconic images of herself and the cover of her well-known book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, in addition to a line from that book: “A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song.” on the website for branding.

Angelou use the language code of primal branding. So should you.

  • Step FOUR to develop your author brand: Consider the language of the genre in which you write and use related words for your website/blog and promotions, then model Maya Angelou’s website with iconic images and slogans.

In Author Branding Part Two, we’ll discuss the final three codes Hanlon describes: rituals, non-believers, and leader.

Until then, YOUR TURN: Have you thought about using Primal Branding to build your author brand?

5 04, 2012

Writer Branding Iron Symbols – What’s Yours?

By |2012-04-05T09:39:05-05:00April 5th, 2012|Judythe Morgan blog, Kristin Lamb, Uncategorized, writer, writing|5 Comments

Today I’m on the porch thinking on the idea of brand.

Probably too long-winded, but then it’s a lovely spring day to sit and chat.

Being a Texan naturally the first image of a brand that pops into my head is a branding iron symbol on the side of a cow.

CREDIT for photo on right: Fleischhauer, Carl, photographer. “Branding Iron [35mm slide].” Date Recorded 79/10. Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982, Library of Congress.

Cows are products like a writer’s novels are products. Cowboys use a different, very specific iron brand symbol for each owner.

 Commercial product marketing teaches additional ways to brand products.

  • NAME: Unique and distinguishable
  • LOGO: The visual trademark that identifies the brand
  • SHAPES: Think the old Coca-Cola bottle or the Volkswagen Beetle
  • GRAPHICS: The dynamic ribbon is also a trademarked part of Coca-Cola’s brand.
  • COLOR: Owens-Corning fiberglass insulation is the only brand that can be pink.
  • SOUNDS: A unique tune or set of notes can “denote” a brand: NBC’s chimes are one of the most famous examples.
  • MOVEMENT: Lamborghini has trademarked the upward motion of its car doors.
  • SMELLS: I love the rose-jasmine-musk scent of Chanel No. 5.
  • TASTE: KFC special recipe of 11 herbs and spices for fried chicken.
  • TAGLINE or Catchphrase: “The Quicker Picker Upper” associated with Bounty; Verizon brand “Can you hear me now”

Writers and books are different animals than commercial products. Branding irons won’t work. But will any of the other product techniques work to establish our brand with readers?

Books as products lack common distinguishable trademarks unless you count genre. I’m not sure the average reader has any idea what we’re talking about when we say genre. They know the books they like or the author they like.

Plus in this crazy new publishing climate, genre lines have become as crooked as a roller coaster track and about as scary.

Take, James Scott Bell— #1 bestselling author of the writing book Plot & Structure, and thrillers like Deceived, Try Dying, Watch Your Back, One More Lie and many more—has a new series written as K. Bennett. A zombie legal thriller series, which begins with Pay Me in Flesh. Seriously. Paranormal elements combined with a legal thriller. How’s that for blending genres?

Stranger combinations are everywhere. So linking books by genres is not that clear cut anymore.

According to I’m Laura Stack, The Productivity Pro®  “You have to become your own number one product. You must be uniquely you.”

While titles and covers can and do link series. Mostly a novel is a stand-alone work and readers connect by the author’s name.

The other commerical product methods aren’t so easily implemented by writers. Smells, tastes, movement, graphics and/or shapes of product marketing to attract readers to a novel seems a bit daunting. There are some very clever writers out there so I’m not giving up on someone coming up with an idea.

Yet.

As an author, I’ve used the spelling of my name as a brand.  Every teacher, every college professor, every stranger who reads my nametag stumbles over the pronunciation. But they don’t forget the name or me.

For the full story on how I received the name, check my author website: Judythe Morgan

Next I’ve used the color green color for my website and Twitter. With a bit of luck, green brings happy thoughts and Irish to mind.

My blog and my FB pages tie together with the front porch. Lots of greenery in those banners too.

Green=happy thoughts. Porch=down home storytelling.

That’s how I write, that’s what I write—stories about ordinary events in ordinary people’s lives that end happily. Emotional stories about journeys of the heart.

Not straight romance, not straight women’s fiction, not simple love stories. A combination of those genres. See Bell’s not the only one who can blend genres.

My taglines also help readers remember me. “Voices and Views from the Front Porch” tag on my blog allows for a variety of blog topics and lets the reader  “know” me and my varied interests.

My website tagline of “Weaving Love Stories to Touch Your Heart” identifies the type of fiction I write.

Will these strategies work? I wish I knew.

In Kristen Lamb’s course, we learned that getting our names out there with samples of our writing builds our platform. But I have to admit advertising aka branding/author platform still baffles me.

When I had my antiques shop, I had a GREAT location-busy intersection in an active shopping center. My marketing plan was strong. I offered free cookies, lemonade and coffee to customers. A shop full of great merchandise, free cookies and coffee.The people came. Still…

antiques,Most of my customers admitted they came because someone told them about the shop.

So I conclude, a business marketing plan and a writer platform/branding plan are pretty much the same.

Word of mouth
Reputation
Name recognition

Book Industry Study Group’s ongoing Consumer Attitudes Toward E-Book Reading survey in February confirmed my conclusion.  “e-book buyers cite word-of-mouth as No. 2—just like their print book kin.” Read here.

People read a good book; they share the book with others. So a writer’s primary challenge is first to write the very best story they can and second to make readers recognize their name.

Branding is about communicating. Engaging readers.

I’ve shared what I do. Remember I am not a marketing major. My expertise is chatting on the porch, sharing my views. Don Block, founder of WeGrowMedia.com, is a qualified expert and he offers some other specific ways to maximize your branding here.

YOUR TURN: Are you branding yourself? How?