As promised, it’s Thursday and I’m wearing my Communications Director hat to bring you the second of three installments of my DIY Branding Strategy series. Last week, we talked about how important it is to define your product, audience and story. Did you miss it? Check it out here. (Oh, and be sure to read to the end of this post for a fun teaser.)
Once you have a well-defined purpose and direction, you’ve got to create a visual representation of your brand.
DESIGN A LOGO AND STYLE GUIDE
Your logo should aim at making you and your content recognizable at a glance. The at a glance part is key. Consider these logos:
I feel confident that it took mere seconds for you to easily identify the companies these logos represent. Note that each is simple. One predominant color (when does well, a color can be just as recognizable brand element as anything else; case in point, the Starbucks green.) Exemplary logos do not even need words. No doubt the McDonald’s golden arches would be just as familiar without the registered tagline.
The above rings true for just about any individual entity or company. However, because many of you are fellow authors, I’d like to give a few tips for creating a visual brand when YOU are the product. There’s no catchy name or mascot to inspire a logo design. But answering these questions can help lead you to a recognizable brand:
- What’s my name (I know, I know, just go with me)?
- What genre do I write?
- What visuals stereotypically go along with that genre?
- What colors do I like and do they represent my genre in any way?
- What’s my author “hook” and how would I visually represent it?
Brainstorm answers to these questions. If you have the opportunity to work with a graphic designer to help you create a logo and branding strategy, they should be asking you similar questions. If your logo does not help spur a conversation about the “story” you defined in Part 1, then you’re not quite there.
When considering my own author brand, I asked these same questions. I knew I wanted to use my name as the main element of the logo. After all, I am the product that I want people to remember. I want my name to be remembered so when I have books on the shelves they can easily recall it. I write contemporary inspirational romance, with an author hook that reads Charming Southern Romance, Inspired by Grace. Since my name doesn’t mean much without something about my actual product, I wanted to incorporate this. The “charming South” makes me think of farming, beautiful scenery, nature. Grace helps us grow. So for a visual, I chose the stalk/leaf you see below. I wanted a color for the logo that both reflected my own likes and something that could be used during all four seasons. The teal worked well, I think. After a lot of playing around, I worked with those elements and settled on this as my logo:
Supporting & Protecting Your Brand: Style Guide
Think of your logo as the foundational building block of your brand. From there, you’ve got to erect a strong facade to support and protect your image, product, and story. A style guide acts as a blue print for accomplishing this.
Key Elements of a Style Guide:
(parentheses offer a few ways I’ve applied each element to my brand on this site)
- Logo Usage (i.e. can use without tag line, but I don’t use it without leaf element; but on items it’s not feasible to include my logo on, I replace it with “teresatysinger.com”
- Approved Color Specifications (i.e. hex code for teal used for headlines, links, social media accents; dark brown as second accent color)
- Approved Fonts for Collateral* (Bebas for logo and post headers; Slim Joe for sub-headings/accents)
- Writing Guidelines (posts written in first person, bold/italicize key points, bullets whenever possible, use of Chicago Manual of Style formatting, etc.)
- Use of Photographs (photos with earthy/antique filters instead of vectors)
- Consistent Collateral Designs (custom memes, blog post headers, feature ads use teal circle and white text in approved fonts…often over photography)
- Approved Translations/Resources (i.e. my use of NRSV Bible when quoting scripture)
*Collateral is all materials used to represent or distribute information about you and/or your product (business cards, flyers, advertisements, etc.)
If you have a team working with you to manage your brand, say an assistant or even spouse, even a bullet point style guide can help maintain consistency across your brand platform and strategically help others recognize you and your content. At my day job, every ministry and support staff member has a copy of the church’s style guide to refer to so they are equipped with knowledge of how to help support the church’s brand.
Do you have questions about developing your logo/visual branding and how to maintain and support it? The above is a way to get started as a DIYer who isn’t in a position to hire a professional. I’m more than happy to help you brainstorm your ideas or challenges you’ve encountered.
Stay tuned next week for Part Three when we cover implementing, evaluating, and adapting your brand for continued success. TEASER!!! Next week’s post will include a very exciting giveaway announcement!
DIY Branding Strategy, Part 2: Logo & Style Guide — TWEET THIS!
Your logo should make you and your content recognizable at a glance. #DIYBranding — TWEET THIS!
Use a #styleguide to maintain consistency across your brand platform. #DIYBranding — TWEET THIS!