Author brand is one of topics I get asked about most frequently, and I’m always happy to discuss. But I’d like to clarify something that I think often gets confused:

Brand vs. Branding

They’re not quite the same thing.

Brand = how people describe you and/or your books.

Branding = the visual element(s) that help people recognize your brand.

Examples:

Tiffany brand = elegant, high-end, classic, luxury

Tiffany branding = that iconic Tiffany blue

McDonalds brand = quick, cheap, convenient

McDonalds branding = those golden arches 

This is distinction is not always well understood. For example, when we use the hear the phrase rebrand, it often refers to a re-branding. True rebrands are more rare.

As a designer of author websites, I’m a big fan of author branding. I really do believe in the power of a consistent logo, fonts, and colors. When on a road trip, I appreciate that I always know what I can expect from McDonalds, but it’s the golden arches that help get me there.

But when it comes to authors, brand is more important than branding. Let’s take a look at Stephen King.

Brand: Horror. Prolific. Opinionated. Marvelously inventive.

Branding …. eh?

His name’s not the same on his book covers. It’s not even close to the way it’s displayed on his website. His book covers are wildly different from each other. His website header features a color of blue not seen anywhere else.  He doesn’t even have a header image on his Twitter profile. The picture used on his avatar for Twitter is different from the headshot on his website.

Stephen King has very little in the way of consistent branding in the traditional sense of the word: logo, color, palette, etc.

Considering he’s a household name and one of the ten richest authors n the world, I’d argue he’s doing just fine without a logo or color scheme. Source.

His brand is so clear, so strong that the only branding he needs is his name in any font. People aren’t Stephen King fans because of his logo, they’re fans because they know what to expect whenever they pick up his books, or watch one of his movies.

Just like McDonald’s arches wouldn’t mean much of anything if people didn’t love Big Macs, and a Tiffany blue box would be just a box if their diamonds were fake.

When authors come to me saying they want better branding, I’m all for it. Visual consistency can be extremely effective, especially for writers that rely heavily on a graphic-heavy social media presence.

But if I were to offer advice based on my tenure as a published author, it would be to prioritize brand.

Figure out who you are, what you stand for, what readers can expect from you. Start showing up as him or her. Logo optional. 

An explanation of author brand