Every author should think about their online reputation and personal branding.
When you hear the word branding, you probably associate it with companies such as Apple, Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Nike, Toyota and Sony, which are great examples of iconic corporate branding.
Their logos are the pillar of their marketing strategy and consumers instantly recognise them as almost a trademark of quality and popularity.
Large companies spend millions of dollars on brand messaging and long-term brand identity.
Of course, corporations use advertising campaigns to promote their products, but it is the instant brand recognition that makes this short-term publicity expenditure more valuable.
But there are some famous brands that are not corporate in the strict sense.
Name brands that we all know
You do not need to think for very long to make a list of famous people who have created their brand based on their name.
The big ones very often only need one name to create a strong personal brand. Think here about Madonna, Elvis, Cher, Pelé, Boyoncé and Sting. You could add Voltaire, Michelangelo and Cleopatra.
It is hard to avoid mentioning Donald Trump when talking about name brands. He has taken it so far that he has now seemingly relegated POTUS to a limited and secondary sub-brand of himself.
When it comes to authors though, two name brands are more common. Douglas Adams, Steven King, James Patterson, John Grisham and Agatha Christie for example.
One author who is a cross between corporate and name branding is J. K. Rowling. Her name is famous for sure, but her brand, Harry Potter, is equally, if not even more well-known.
How does branding work if you are not famous, or a corporation?
Personal branding can take many different forms.
But generally, it means developing your personal brand and trying to build an online, and perhaps as well as an offline, presence aimed at a particular target audience.
The quickest and easiest way for most authors is to start building a solid social media platform to interact with people on a personal level.
But this does not mean mixing professional and personal accounts.
It might sound contradictory, but creating a personal brand is all about your profession as an author and not about your personal life.
Your online profile should be all about how well you write books with no mention at all about how well you bake cakes.
Ideas and tips for building a personal brand
The key ingredients for effective personal branding are the same for authors as they are for any other professional pursuit.
Consistency, clarity, reliability and honesty are essential elements of strong personal brands.
If you are a new author, the best way to build your personal brand is to start with four basic pillars.
1. A personal brand website.
2. An active and effective blog
2. Selected social media accounts.
4. Your look, style and behaviour
A static website still has great value
Creating a standalone website which presents you and your books is one of the best ways to get your name indexed by search engines.
If and when someone is doing an online search for you, you really want them to find you.
You should have at the very least a well-designed home or landing page plus separate pages for each of your books.
You definitely need to add an about page and write it with the thought in mind that it will be your personal branding statement.
You will not need to update your website unless you release a new title, so it requires almost no work once it is set up.
While it is quick and easy to use free online websites, they have very little SEO value.
A blog is an absolute must
Creating content is how you can quickly enhance your reputation and build your brand. Not only as a writer and author but also as a way to become one of the thought leaders in your target market.
You need to select the core topic of your blog very carefully and stick to it.
If you are a science fiction author, do not write occasional articles about rose gardening and how good your chocolate brownies are.
Find a topic theme you are knowledgeable about, such as mid-20th-century sci-fi, and stay on topic. Your reward will come in time as you get known by people as an expert in your field.
Post articles regularly, or even on a schedule, and slowly build your bank of quality content and online presence.
Every article you write will be another small addition to the definition of your brand, and again, they will be indexed by search engines.
Think of a blog as a way to be a public speaker. If you do it well, people will listen to you.
Related reading: How To Write An Article That Will Rank And Be Read A Lot
Avoid creating a personal profile on social media platforms. Or at least, only use these types of accounts for your friends, close acquaintances and family.
You can add professional Pages on Facebook and Linkedin. You should set up a new branded account on Twitter.
Or if you already have a couple of Twitter accounts, you can rename a Twitter account and re-brand it.
Pinterest also has the option to create a business account.
Once you have established your branding accounts, make sure you use them to promote your author brand.
Use social media to promote your blog articles and always add links to your website and blog.
Like your blog, the best advice on how to use social media is to stay on topic and concentrate on enhancing your professional profile.
Be consistent and create your look
Your behaviour is of the utmost importance in creating and maintaining a great personal brand.
This means remaining polite ALWAYS, being calm and never entering into petty online spats. Make sure that people perceive you to be informative, civil and decent.
Doing something stupid, just once, can be a total reputation killer. A perfect example is how much one dumb tweet cost Rosanne Barr.
Another consistency you absolutely must have as a writer is the accuracy of your writing. I never take chances, so I use Grammarly to help with all of my online and offline writing. I call it cheap insurance.
Typos, grammatical errors and poor spelling are reputation killers for a writer or author.
One overlooked component of an author brand is how you want to look, and be recognised and remembered online and offline.
One possibility you can consider is the font or fonts you use. Think about your blog, website and even emails. Selecting a classy font says a lot about your style and will create an image that is memorable.
You could also standardise the colour of your online text. Dark grey is far more appealing on the eye than black.
While on the subject of fonts, another great idea is to design your author name so that it can become your brand logo. You can then use it on your books, website, blog and social media headers.
You might want to use a graphic designer to help you out and make it powerful, stunning, unique and above all, that it really stands out and is very memorable.
While not every author will want to have a graphic logo, it is still not a bad idea to consider. A good example is Rachel Thompson on her blog, Bad Redhead Media.
Consistency and predictability are the key attributes of all the branding examples I have used in this article.
When this is broken, such as with Rosanne and even Facebook any hard-won reputation can go down the tube very quickly.
It takes years to build a brand and trust, but it can take only seconds to destroy.
While you certainly will not be as famous as some, it is not difficult to create an author brand that will work for you and help your reputation as an author and writer.
Create your look, stay polite and be patient.
Related reading: How To Use Your Amazon Author Page With Amazon Author Central