June 12, 2018

authentic marketing - living your best brand and staying true to yourself - part 2

Blogger's Note: Before you dig into this post, be sure to read Part 1 of "Authentic Marketing: Living Your Best Brand and Staying True to Yourself here. Click here to read Part 3.

Part 2: Building Your Brand

Yesterday, we covered what it means to be authentic, but now it's time to figure out what that means as it applies to building your brand as an author. You may already be well-versed in what brands are and what it means to have one, but in case you aren't let's review.

As an author, your brand is your identity. It tells readers who you are and what they can expect from your stories. It involves other components, naturally. If you think of Nike or Pepsi, you can probably imagine their logos and some of their taglines. Those are part of their branding, but really, the brand is about what seeing or hearing those elements stirs inside of you as a consumer.

Let's think about branding in terms of people with this little game. Take a look at the names listed below, and come up with two to four words that come to mind when you read them. Jot down your answers on a piece of paper (or yell it at your computer screen or mobile device, if you like).

Sandra Bullock

Steven Spielberg


Nora Roberts

What did you come up with? How do those words compare if you run a Google search of their names? I bet you'll find some commonality. That doesn't mean you came up with obvious answers. It just means that each of them leaves a clear impression. We all do, whether it's intentional or not. That's part of our identity and brand.

Now comes the big question: How do I get a brand?

Creating an effective brand that reflects who you are begins with brainstorming. Let's do another exercise, building on the one from yesterday, to give ourselves some background.
Exercise 2: Establishing Basics (continued) 
Complete the following statements. 
Words that describe me: 
I would like people to associate me with:  
Now give some thought to your favorite colors. Your style. Designs that speak to you. Flowers. Etc. Complete the statement: I like:
(Full disclosure: I accidentally included these three points in yesterday's post. I have updated it, but if you were following the activity live, you've already finished this part. Kudos!)

Let's take this another step forward and follow-up with our third exercise . . .
Exercise 3: Create a Mood Board 
Create a Pinterest Board or new document and add photos you find on the website OR cut out pictures from a magazine and glue them to a sheet of paper. Select pictures that speak to who you are based on the answers you came up with during the first two exercises. Find words, colors, and designs that reflect who you are and how you would like to be perceived. 
If you need suggestions on ideas, run a Google search for "mood board" and click images. This will give you some ideas. 
I'd also suggest making your mood board a living creation of sorts. Use poster boards or Pinterest so you can keep updating it. Have it somewhere accessible so you can turn to it when you're developing your brand and marketing. It will give you insight for color schemes, fonts and more.

There are lots of authors out there who do an amazing job tying in who they are with their brands. Lauren Layne is one of my favorites. Based in New York City, she writes sexy romantic comedies. In blog posts and on social media, she describes her style as chic, classic, and fun. Audrey Hepburn comes to mind. If you follow her newsletter, social media, and web updates, you'll find she carries that tone through visually and in her tone.

Don't worry if your own branding doesn't come across polished right away. Like I said in the first picture above, I think of branding as an evolution. Humans change. We have some core values, but we also grow and evolve. So do our brands.

Mine certainly have. Here are a few pictures showing how I've applied my brand at the time to visuals in the form of Facebook page cover graphics.

You'll see it's only been in the last year or so that I have found some consistency. Early on, I relied a lot on graphics and my covers to guide my brand. Now, I let myself and my interests guide it. While books may still appear in the graphics I create, at their core, I like to have natural colors and images that could also work in a lifestyle blog. It's not because I see myself as a great lifestyle blogger. I just found myself drawn to these images. And after writing my home renovation book, Playing House, I
looked at the mood board I'd created for the book and realized so many of the pictures I included resonated with me.

And, if I'm looking really deeply at myself, I also see a lot of who I am (a work in progress) and who I want to be (someone with a nice balance and room to grow). When I look at the graphics I create and the written content I share along with it, it just feels right for me and brings me joy.

Tomorrow, we'll get into identifying the marketing tools that work best for you and a few suggestions on building marketing plans. But first, I'll share a couple of resources I love to use in developing branding. Check out Design Seeds and 99designs. The first is great for visual inspiration and the second is a resource I've used.

(Click here to read Part 1. Click here to read Part 2.)

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