What image do you use for your social media representation? Is it an object you identify with? A photo of yourself? Maybe your pet or family. Many of your friends recognize you by that picture. Currently I have my dog Astrid sleeping in her Santa bed as my “avitar” or avi on Scribophile, and a cute picture of her on a rock at the lake as my “Profile” picture on Facebook. And I have others in other places. So I am not easy to identify outside of one place or another.
Back before social media and even the intertubes (Gasp!), I mean way back when language had few rules and not many could read or write, I mean even a text would have been all pictographs, people (let’s face it, men were the only people back then except for a few special standout women) used symbols and colors to identify their sports teams. Which were really armies. Big, mean armies.
Eric the Reddish Orange would have all his guys show up in whatever they put on that morning (Men have two piles of clothes: Filthy and Filthy but okay to wear to war) and handed out tabards to fit over the armor and weapon straps. These were all the same color and had the same kitten or doggie painted on the front. Meanwhile, Boris the Mostly Bald gathered his tough, underpaid, underfed, decidedly vicious guys on the hillside and they all word black with silver sequins on their tabards. That way Eric’s men would only try to kill Boris’s men, and vice versa. Until one of them got the brilliant idea of putting on a black tabard and sneaking up on Boris.
Cars came along sometime in the turn of the 20th century. These vehicles made it possible to kill a lot more people at one time and not even come up with a reason before hand. And just in case anyone wanted to sue the car makers for creating shoddy brakes and tires and so on, the companies began to put nice and individual badges on each model so there was no confusion.
Oddly enough, some of the elements of heraldry, the system used to create the early armies’ designations, slopped over onto the system of cars’ identifications. Lots of shields, lots of colors related to various geographic areas, and lots of shiny metal.
So then we get to the athletic teams with colors, lions, tigers, bears, fluer d’lis, and so many other heraldic symbols it’s easy to find the similarity between the armies of old and the teams of today. Except I think it’s illegal to put on the opposing team’s uniform and sneak up on anyone. I’d have to check but seems it would have been in the rules by now.
What the heck does all of this have to do with writing? Well. There is something out there called the Author’s Brand. I’m not talking about the beer I drink or the perfume I use. I’m talking about the thing that sets my books apart from the others at a glance. An author who spoke to my local chapter of Romance Writers of America created her brand by being the first one to use only half the front cover for the picture of the hero or heroine or both. She created her own font to be used only on her book covers. And she fought hard for the titles to be unique. You can practically identify her books as her books from 20 paces. (This goes back to the days of the armies when you had to stay that far apart until the coin toss. I think.)
I can’t say I have a brand, really, it’s something I am working on. My Regency books have the same photo of a banquet table, the same silhouette of a couple looking at each other, and are set apart by the color of the silhouette. The Bowman’s Inn anthologies had a tree shown in various seasons until the last two which had beautiful couples in various seasons. As a self-published author, making a big brand impact isn’t easy. Yet it can be done and can be learned through various online workshops. And no, you can’t use some other author’s idea and pretend to be on their side.
Branding is not a new idea and not a simple concept. But it’s doable and totally at the top of my to-do list. Along with finish the books and do more marketing. And eat more vegetables. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday with some ideas for holiday gifts for writers. You can let your family and friends know what you really need.