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Portraying brand values

Brand values, in the context of an author's brand are normally associated with the desired reader experience. If you write in more than one genre, then make a list of words for each style of writing, underlining any words that are common to both i.e. exciting; informative etc.

If you're struggling with this exercise, then read through some of your reviews and see if any of the words jump out at you or are consistent with your own thoughts and use these.

There's no exact amount of words required and you may also note, upon reflection that you can group similar words and choose just one that best describes that group. The important thing is to make sure you have encompassed all aspects of your desired reader experience. When you're happy with your list, it's time to work or your brand image.

Clearly, these blogs are not intended to provide a phd in all aspects of marketing, rather to deliver the salient points, so that your marketing activities are relevant and impactful, just as important, to help you prevent costly errors. With this in mind, we will look briefly at design.

Good design or 'art' is the portrayal of a concept without the use of words, anything else is just colouring. I make this point because even in large companies with huge marketing budgets I see a lot of colourings!

With 'good design' there is a reason for everything you see on the page, with this in mind you must first decide what it is that you're trying to portray.

For your author's brand image, first decide what name you will use and how you want it to appear e.g. Sarah Mackie; S. L. Mackie; S Mackie; WhiskyMac etc.

I understand that there is some research to suggest that women writing for a predominantly male audience, should drop their 'feminine' name in favour of initials. I don't know how this sits with my particular brand of feminism but then if the object is to sell books then it's probably worth considering.

Again, if you write in different genres, you may choose a pseudonym; clearly if your name is Fanny Whiplash you might want to choose something else for your children's fiction. This isn't because you can't assocate the name with family friendly children's fiction, it has more to do with what children will see on the screen if they google your name! The point here is to choose carefully and consider the wider implications; the same considerations would apply to anyone called Charles Dickens or Jack Daniels - the opportunity for mis-direction is too great an obstacle! Whatever you choose, make sure it's something that you are comfortable with and most importantly, something that remains consistent.

Once you've chosen how to present yourself, you will need to choose a font or typestyle. There are no rights and wrongs here, it's very much personal taste. My only word of warning is to choose a font that is clear and easy to read, as chances are your book covers will vary enormously and so anything too fine or complex may not stand out well against busy backgrounds. As a rule of thumb, I find it useful to choose something that is legible on your book cover on an Amazon thumbnail listing.

So now you have some brand values, a name and a typeface; you might like to consider another element. Rather like a little heart over your 'i'. It's not for everyone, but if you usually sign your signature followed by a 'dot' you're already portraying an exacting nature. If you normally underline your signature, does the line go up or down? Does it curl or is it straight?

From a design perspective all of these seemingly minor details reveal different aspects of your personality, so give some consideration as to whether you want to include them.

You may wish to include an icon like a flower or an emoticon such as a smiley face. Alternatively you might choose to include a tagline to clarify your values e.g. NIKE - Just do it! If you do choose this route make sure you keep it simple and memorable.

If you write in different genres and have decided to keep the same name, an icon or a tagline provides a good differentiator.

My advice is that you play with all of these options, choose your favourites and stick them around your home and workspace. The ones you like the most will soon make themselves known. Alternatively, ask other people such as trusted friends and readers which treatment they prefer and why?

When you've decided on a style, you're ready to move on to my next blog...

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