Branding for Writers
Why Branding Is Important For Writers
Are you a writer who wants to be noticed? If so, you may want to pay attention.
Most of us have heard the term brand, pertaining to a product or business. When you think of companies such as Apple, Nike, and Starbucks, what comes to mind? You might think of the Apple logo, or maybe the Nike swoosh, or the Starbucks mermaid in a circle. We know these companies because of their brand. Authors are and can be branded as well. But how do you brand a person?
Branding an individual is slightly different than creating a brand for one’s business. I just helped create a brand for my husband, Matt Campbell, author of The Chosen of the Light series. Matt’s journey of self-promotion hasn’t been easy. He’s a new author and much of his time is spent getting his name out to the public. This eats up valuable time he could spend writing. A new approach was needed.
One day I was brainstorming new ways to promote Matt and his soon-to-be-released second novel. The wheels started turning, and I thought to myself, “How can I make Matt and his books stand out in the sea of authors online and in the real world?” This was when I had that AH-HA moment. I thought about creating a personal brand for him. However, I wasn’t sure what that meant or entailed. The thought launched me into a long research journey on what personal branding meant. Let me share my new found wisdom with you.
Who Are You?
First, you need to trust that creating a brand for yourself doesn’t mean you lose your identity. You have to incorporate YOURSELF into your brand. This was something I had to show Matt. When I suggested he start writing under a pen name, I had to give him the whoa!-I-know-but-hear-me-out speech. When it comes to a more common name such as his, using a pen name is a requirement. If you Google “Matt Campbell,” you’ll see multiple Matt Campbell’s in the search results. However, I couldn’t find my husband without scrolling through a sea of Matt Campbell’s! Everyone has the desire to stand out in the crowd, especially new authors.
Once I got this point across to Matt (my husband), it was easy for him to trust the decision to re-brand. After manipulating his name in multiple ways in order to try and preserve some essence of his birth name, it was time to surrender. There were too many people with the name Matt Campbell or close variations. This was when I suggested he write from now on under a pen name.
What’s Your Name?
Finding a pen name can be tricky, and may require you to discover one by trial and error. There are online tools that help you along your way. A nifty website called Namechk.com can help you find if your real name or pen name has been taken on all the social media platforms. I used Namechk and found it to be extremely useful when coming up with Matt’s pen name.
The next step is to lock down the domain to ensure he owned the .COM to his newfound pen name. This is easy if you have never done it before. You can use a domain service such as GoDaddy and buy a domain, or if you have a blog, check with your hosting company to see if you can buy your .COM through them. Matt purchased his domain, but now it was time to do some serious revamping on all his current websites and social media. I won’t bore you with those details, but it is important to unify your social media. If your name is Joe Smith, then use www.facebook.com/JoeSmith, or JoeSmith@twitter, and www.joesmith.com. It’s crucial that you keep your social media consistent with name and appearance.
You have your name, or in Matt’s case, a pen name, but now what? Make your brand visually appealing and easily recognizable by choosing a consistent font. When choosing a font, please make sure it has a free license to use for commercial use. 1001 Fonts allows you to see exactly what fonts they offer and if it’s okay for commercial use modification and redistribution. Note: Commercial use only means it can be used for print materials but does not necessarily mean you can use the font in any manner you wish. Ideally, to protect yourself, you want to use a font that allows for modification and redistribution. You can see below what 1001 Fonts shows for each font they list on their site. The font shown below (CuppaJoe) is only allowed for personal use and print materials. Make sure you read Commercial Use Agreements for any online font company to ensure redistribution is okay.
Tell the World
If your work has already been published, you have to tell the world about your big change. Show the world who the new you is, which includes the font that you’ll use from now on and possibly a new author picture. I had Matt write a blurb on his social media sites to show his audience he is now writing as Jon Carlin Shea:
“Creating a name for oneself in this digital age has proven to be a real challenge. I’ve been thinking about this for a very long time, and starting with Book Two in “The Chosen of the Light” series, I will be using the pen name Jon Carlin Shea.
I assure you my writing and my presence will be very much the same. Thank you to everyone who has helped me, Matt Campbell, stretch my name out into the interwebs. Here’s hoping Jon Carlin Shea can reach just a little further!”
It’s important to fill in your audience as to why you changed, and this is where being authentic really pays off. I wanted Matt to expand on what his personal brand journey was like for him. You can check it out here. Do your best to inform the public of the change and why. They’ll appreciate it.
Now that you’ve completed all the steps, you are more marketable and will hopefully reach a bigger audience.
Let’s break it down one last time.
For those of you that have not had your work published as of yet, I suggest thinking about doing this prior to doing so. It is much easier to create a personal brand from the get-go.
- Search your current name to see if it’s unique. If you choose to write under a pen name, you still need to make sure it is not in use.
- Use online resources such as Namechk to see if your name or pen name is available on social media sites.
- Buy your domain (.COM). It’s cheap, it’s easy, and then it’s yours.
- Envision how you want to be perceived to the world. Pick a font that embodies that, along with a new picture of yourself.
- Unify all your social media. Keep usernames consistent through all sites as much as possible. This allows your name to be easily searchable.
- Announce the change to the world. This step is only necessary if you are choosing to write under a pen name. If you are starting from scratch, you don’t need to tell the world of your journey, unless you want to.
- Reach out to people like my husband or me to help you with your personal writing journey. I can help with the transition.