Pen and Pixels: Designing an Irresistible Author Brand Identity for Your Author Platform
Updated: Jul 3
Developing a cohesive brand identity is crucial for self-publishing authors who aspire to stand out and connect with their readership. Your author brand identity combines the power of strategy with the artistry of visual storytelling to solidify your platform.
Like a compelling book cover entices readers to delve into your story, a well-crafted author brand identity establishes your author persona, setting the stage for a profound and lasting connection with your audience.
In part three of our author branding series, we’ll delve into author brand identity design, providing invaluable insights and practical guidance to help you forge a compelling and memorable presence on and offline.
Understanding Author Brand Identity
In today’s digital landscape, where authors must navigate social media platforms, author websites, and various promotional avenues, building a recognizable brand identity is no longer a luxury but a necessity.
It goes beyond selecting an appealing author photo or a catchy pen name and tagline; it’s about curating a cohesive image that represents your unique voice, values, and literary style.
Definition and Components of Brand Identity
Brand identity refers to the visual design elements or assets you create to reflect your message and brand personality. These tangible elements span two categories:
Visual Identity: Visual elements such as logos, colors, typography, and imagery are necessary for conveying your brand’s personality and leaving a lasting impression on your audience.
Online Presence: Your online presence encompasses your author website, blog, social media profiles, and other digital platforms where you interact with your readers. Create a consistent and cohesive online experience that aligns with your brand/visual identity.
How Brand Identity Impacts Your Writing Career
Now that we understand the components of brand identity, let’s explore how it can profoundly impact your writing career.
Differentiation: A strategic author brand identity helps you stand out in a saturated writing market. It allows you to carve a niche for yourself, highlighting what makes you unique and compelling to readers.
Recognition: A well-crafted brand identity makes you easily recognizable. When readers encounter your branding across various platforms, they should immediately associate it with you, increasing familiarity and trust.
Professionalism: A well-established and consistent brand identity conveys professionalism and expertise. It instills confidence in readers, publishers, and industry professionals, leading to more opportunities and collaborations.
Align Your Author Brand Identity with Your Author Brand Strategy
While designing your brand identity, ensure it aligns with your vision and aspirations for your writing career. Your visuals should reflect and support your author brand strategy, creating a cohesive and purposeful image that resonates with your target audience.
Consider how your brand identity can complement and enhance your career goals and brand strategy. For instance, if you aim to become a leading voice in romantic fiction, your brand identity should evoke romance, passion, and emotional connection.
By aligning your brand identity design with your writing goals, you create a consistent presence that helps you attract the right audience and opportunities.
Author Brand Identity Elements
Your brand elements fall into two categories: core and extended brand touchpoints.
The core elements of your branding are:
Your logo suite (with a primary logo, variants, and submarks)
Your extended brand touchpoints are the graphics you create using your core elements:
Social media graphics
How to Design Your Strategic Author Brand Identity
Let’s recap the stages of building your brand:
I. Create your brand strategy: outline the intangible elements of your branding and how they intertwine (target audience, brand story, purpose and mission, unique selling point, etc.)
II. Design your brand identity: design visuals and tangible elements that illustrate and build on your intangible elements (logo, color palette, branded imagery, etc.)
Once you’ve completed stage one and cemented your brand strategy, you’ll have all the tools to tackle the design stage.
You can learn how to design your branding or work with an experienced graphic designer. Whichever option you choose, you’ll need to do some research. Learn about the basics and visualize what you want your branding to look like.
Step #1: Choosing the Aesthetics or Theme of Your Brand
Pinterest will be your best friend when creating your author brand. It’s a visual search engine with millions of inspirations.
Create a board and populate it with color palette inspirations, logo ideas, and images that spark ideas for your visual elements and illustrate the overall vibe of your brand. Consider the adjectives you listed to describe your brand personality, your genre, and what visual would draw the attention of your ideal reader.
Look at branding designs from other authors in and outside of your genre. Seeing examples of the needed elements will give you somewhere to start and generate ideas.
Working With a Graphic Designer
Approach a graphic designer with a basic idea of what you want from your design. The clearer you are about the look and feel you desire, the easier it’ll be for you to instruct a designer, making the branding process less tedious.
You’ll receive design feedback, of course, but you know the heart of your brand better than anyone else. A designer is there to help you bring that heart to life through stunning and professional designs.
Be specific with your feedback about what you like and don’t. And don’t be afraid to ask questions. Working with a designer is a collaborative effort.
Step #2: Design Your Branding
Here are the six essential brand-related elements you need in your branding kit.
1 | Logo Suite
Your logo is a central element in your branding. It represents you and your brand in a single focal design.
Types of Logos
Your logo can be a Logotype, which comprises only your logo’s typography. It’s a timeless approach used to promote name recognition. Everything rests on the font or fonts used.
If you’re looking for something more unique and personalized, choose a Logomark. These types of logos feature a symbolic image or icon. Go for something with meaning. Either for you as an author or for the genre you write.
Design Note: Your icon is also helpful as a favicon for your website.
Mix the two (Logotype and Logomark) to create variants for your secondary and submark logos. Variants widen the application of your logo for a variety of purposes.
You won’t always be able to use your primary logo because of the spacing on your website or graphics. Your secondary and submark logos will be helpful when working with limited spacing.
2 | Color Scheme
Your brand colors further set the mood for what readers can expect.
If you write horror, dark, dominant colors evoke a sense of tension and foreboding. Likewise, you might opt for a more subdued color scheme of pastels and calming tones if you write women’s fiction.
Remember the adjectives you listed in your strategy? Think about the colors that would best represent the top three.
3 | Typography
Finding the right font combination is an art. It can make or break the overall design of your branding. The wrong font will stick out in a bad way.
Don’t use the typography of your logo anywhere else. It will diminish the impact. Choose fonts for your headers and body text that complement your branding theme.
4 | Business Cards
Your business card is an extension of you and your business. It keeps you visible when you’re not in the room. It also provides contact points for readers and other interested parties who want to collaborate with you.
5 | Author Brand Style Guide
Your brand style guide displays all of your brandings in one place. It’s your reference sheet for your website design, social media posts, and book marketing graphics, so you’ll maintain a cohesive presence across your various platforms.
Your style guide will keep you on track as you mold your brand’s visual identity.
Other Brand Style Elements
Social media banners
Social media posts
Email newsletter template
Digital media kit
Blog post image templates
6 | Author Blog or Website
Your website is your Author HQ. It’s where readers visit to learn more about you, your books, or what events you’re hosting or attending.
Fellow authors and other interested parties will visit your website if they consider pitching you a collaboration opportunity.
Your website should reflect the entirety of your brand. From your messaging to your visual designs, all in one cohesive presentation.
Design Note: Add a page with your media kit for convenience if someone wants to contact you or feature you in their content. These branded design elements will help keep your branding consistent everywhere you’re featured.
Step #3: Apply Your Brand Everywhere
Apply your brand on your social media profiles, business cards, email graphics, promotional items, website...everywhere.
It’s how you’ll rise above the clutter and reach your target audience by building brand recognition.
Cohesive branding creates a consistent experience for readers and builds reader trust. It establishes how you’re different, bringing an air of professionalism to your author business.
By understanding the key elements of visual brand identity, from typography and color schemes to logo and website design, you have gained the tools to create a brand that reflects your unique voice, values, and literary style.
A cohesive brand identity captures the attention of potential readers and fosters a sense of trust and recognition, ultimately building a loyal and engaged audience.
Start with your fundamental elements.
Author brand style guide
Build and maintain a cohesive identity across all digital and print media platforms. Showcase your brand in every interaction you have on and offline.
Consistency builds brand awareness. It builds trust and facilitates a genuine connection between you and your readership to create a loyal fanbase. This connection is the magic of your authentic strategic author brand.
Designing a cohesive visual author brand identity is paramount for any self-publishing author seeking to establish an impactful presence in the literary realm.
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