designing ebooks and other fun things

Ask a designer: my name is my brand

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This post is part of the Ask a Designer series. You ask me questions, I answer them to the best of my ability. The questions can be about design process, branding, software, technical things – or even completely unrelated. Want to play? Leave me a comment here, or use the contact form.

 

Question:

If my name is my brand (as an author), how do I build on that visually to create a brand image?

by Christy Bower

Answer:

Using your own name as a brand isn’t really all that different from using a separate name, not in terms of branding. (Except for the fact that you don’t get to choose your own name — which can be an advantage or a disadvantage, depending on how you look at it.)

You still get to choose what you stand for.

That is what you are want to build on visually. It’s not about the collection of consonants and vowels in the words Christy Bower; it’s about what Christy Bower stands for.

In the ideal brand-building scenario (one with lots of planning time and an unlimited image-building budget), this is something that would have been decided and put into action before your first book manuscript was even edited. There would have been interviews and brainstorming sessions, and you would have had a logo, a strong visual identity, and an identity manual to work with for your future books, websites and projects before you book had even hit the shelves. There would have been a uniform look for your book covers and the layout, a sleek bio that built off of that, and the branding guidelines, do’s and don’ts would have been packaged in a nice little manual that you could apply to anything.

Of course, this isn’t one of those scenarios.

To tell you the truth, I think ideal brand-building scenarios are a myth.

Nevertheless, it seems like you know what you stand for. And even though your books may not have a uniform look among themselves, or with your website, it would seem that the main message is the same.

And that is what you want to represent visually as well. It really is the same process as for any other kind of a brand — except for the coming up with the name part.

There are some elements on your site that are trying to capture the vibe. The leaves above the name; the grapes; the quote that ties it together; the color, likely chosen to represent spirituality — and of course the teeny-tiny book covers that are rather difficult to recognize, but that is a separate topic.

The problem is, they are all separate elements. It’s pretty difficult to get them all register at the same time and merge into that main message. And that’s what missing:

A simple, clear visual representation that hints at what you stand for.

Yes, this could be a logo. Yes, you can have a logo with your own name. And it can be developed further, into a visual identity you can easily apply across different materials – and use in your future books.

And, as with any other kind of brand, the most important thing is to make sure this identity easy to recognize and remember — and that it represents you. (Not because of your name, but because of what you stand for.)

This is not something that is to explain with just words. It’s one of those things that is begging for a show and tell approach. But that would be the job for something like a Style Analysis Session, if you ever want to explore the possibilities.

In the meantime, just to sum up: the fact that your name is your brand is not a limitation.

You can use it just as effectively as any made-up brand name — if not more so. It’s all a matter of showing what you stand for in addition to saying it.

4 Comments on this Post.

  1. Thanks, Lisa, for your thoughtful and thorough answer!

    When I started as an author, I wish I had known about the imporance of branding. Now I’m trying to regroup into a consistent message to move forward with…and a new website design is in the future, which is why I’m thinking through all of the related issues now.

    I appreciate your insight. You’ve given me several thing to begin thinking about.

    • lisa

      You’re welcome Christy, and I am glad that I have given you some starting points to start exploring.
      I honestly don’t think many people understand the importance of branding when they start — be it as authors, or any other profession — so you are in good company. The important thing to remember is, it’s never too late to change.

      And if I can help you with this exploration in any way at all, let me know!

  2. BTW, I don’t have any say the design of my book covers. The publisher designs each book without my input, involvement, or approval. I don’t even see the cover until they have approved the final design. So, of all the things you mentioned, that is the ONE area that I don’t get to control.

    But that’s also another reason I’m looking at doing more self-published ebooks and so forth. That way I control both the message and the presentation to create a consistent image across multiple products and platforms.

    • lisa

      Yeah, I figured. That’s how it usually works; each publisher tries to outdo the other. It’s even worse if you have more than one — no consistency whatsoever.

      Still, the message should be recognizable. And thanks to that, also the name.

      And you can establish the branding through the site and future self-published books — that sounds like a great idea!

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