Over the past few months, I’ve found something odd. I’m getting a mile of questions about logos and colors for websites and blogs. Nothing wrong with that. However, the logos and colors thing has become tied up with writers wanting to brand themselves as a writer. They think that pretty logos, brand colors, and fonts will do that.
If you want to brand yourself as a writer, start with YOU
Years ago, management guru Tom Peters wrote a brilliant article called The Brand Called You. He said:
Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer for the brand called You.
It’s that simple — and that hard. And that inescapable.
Please read the article. It was written in 1997, and it’s more important now than ever.
Let’s look at how to get started if you want to brand yourself as a writer.
1. Branding is about YOUR AUDIENCE and YOU
Another thing that’s getting a lot of traction today is “finding your voice as a writer.” The first time I read that, I was drinking a cup of coffee, and almost snorted it over my keyboard.
I’m bringing it up because the kind of thinking that imagines that “your voice as a writer” is somehow important, is also the kind of thinking that imagines that branding is all about logos and colors.
Your “voice” changes. If I’m writing content for a law firm, my voice is very different from the voice I use if I’m writing for a hotel chain. Similarly, if I’m writing a mystery novel, my voice for that is very different from the voice I use if I’m writing an historical romance, or a contemporary women’s fiction novel.
(Mystery, historical romance, and contemporary women’s fiction are all genres.)
Voice, for a writer, is all about the audience.
Similarly, your brand is all about your audience.
In copywriting, there’s a useful acronym: WIIFM. (What’s In It For Me.) Writers forget that acronym at their peril, because we write to be read.
So, if you want to create a brand, think about your audience, and yourself, in relation to that audience. You’ll get yourself into tangle if you place yourself first. Whatever you’re writing, it’s always all about the audience.
2. What’s your brand like? What do you want people to FEEL?
Your brand has a personality.
Think about your audience, and then think about how you serve them. What do you do for them?
To get a handle on this, it’s useful to think about big company brands. Forbes has a list of The World’s Most Valuable Brands; it ranks Apple and Google as the world’s top brands. What do you feel when you hear the words “Apple” or “Google”? You feel something. That “something” you feel is the brand.
Chances are that you use these companies’ products every day. You almost certainly “Google” things a lot. Perhaps you have an iPhone, or an iPad. Whatever, when you hear the names of those companies, you feel something.
How did Apple and Google brand themselves?
They didn’t. Their brand grew out of what they do.
Similarly, your brand grows out of what you do.
This means that in your first few years as a writer, you’re establishing a brand, and that brand develops organically.
3. Your brand will grow out of your platform
In a nutshell, your brand is you — it’s what you do for your audience, and what your audience feels about you.
Your platform is your readership.
If you’re a new writer, work on building your platform first, and then, once you know the audience you’re targeting, as well as the audience you’re NOT targeting, you can think about your brand.
Today, building your platform often starts with blogging. You’re developing a readership, an audience to which you relate.
Of course, you want a logo etc, to represent your blog, but do remember that your logo etc is NOT your brand. YOU are.
What about logos and colors? How do you create the “right” logo?
Consider your audience, and how you want to appear to that audience. Then choose the images, fonts, and colors which may appeal to that audience. Remember that you can change your logo etc at any time, and if you’re a new writer, who’s been writing for fewer than five years, you WILL change it, as you complete writing projects, write books, and blog.
The TL;DR version: your brand is YOU.
As Tom Peters points out:
It’s this simple: You are a brand. You are in charge of your brand. There is no single path to success. And there is no one right way to create the brand called You. Except this: Start today. Or else.
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