Cohesive Author Branding on a Budget: Tips from a Design Pro

Cohesive Author Branding on a Budget: Tips from a Design Pro

Please welcome guest blogger Dianne Frost to Wordy Speculations…

Did you know that one in three businesses fail within their first year? This is often attributed to business owners not taking the time to define their purpose or sole motivation for their business. As authors, we are pretty lucky. Our purpose, usually, is to sell books and gather a loyal following.

How Does a Cohesive Brand Help?

Having a cohesive and consistent look maximizes your potential for success. It makes your platform stand out as something that is distinctly you, and your content will, in time, be recognized immediately as yours.

Think of your brand as your face, constant reader. Would you expect anyone to remember meeting you if you were wearing a different mask every time they ran into you? Your brand is the face of your books, your swag, and your online presence. Being recognizable is important, and consistency is key to growing a loyal audience.

How Do I Get a Cohesive Brand?

Well, as a professional graphic designer in my day job, I would advise you to hire a professional, which I know is not always an option. Luckily, there are a few key elements to great branding that are pretty easy for an author to develop and maintain without any kind of design background.

Consistency is Key

Not to beat a dead horse but seriously, y’all. Think about how you want to represent yourself visually and stick to that look. Nicholas Sparks is a great example of a best-selling author who has a consistent look and feel over all of his branding. Check out his original covers as well as his rebranded covers and his website.

cohesive branding
Nicholas Sparks Original Brand
cohesive branding
Nicholas Sparks New Brand

If you are familiar with his brand, you immediately know that this content is from Nicholas Sparks.

Tips for Staying Consistent

1. Find a Color Scheme and Stick to It

Pinterest is great for finding colors that go well together. Just search for “color palette,” “color scheme,” or “colorscape.”

cohesive branding
Pinterest Color Palettes

Design Pro Tip: Check out http://color.adobe.com. This site lets you create your own color schemes based on a single color.

2. Choose a Font or Two for Your Brand

Doing a quick Google search of “fonts that go together” will give you loads of font pairings to choose from. Once you choose a couple, think of them in terms of big and little. Use one font for all of your big type—book titles, headlines, and so on—and your other font for all of your little type—body copy, subheads, and the like.

Design Pro Tip: If you choose at least one font with many different weights, you can be more versatile with your type while still staying completely on brand. Fonts like Helvetica, Gotham, and Universe just to name a few all come with fifteen to twenty weights. This allows you to let you switch things up while still keeping your brand consistent.

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Helvetica with Different Font Weight Options

3. Use Photography that Has the Same Look and Feel

Using a lot of dark photography and then suddenly throwing something lighter in can be visually jarring. Look at the composition, saturation and exposure of your images. If you look back at Nicholas Spark’s examples, you can see that the majority of his covers utilize a landscape or setting image, although a few, such as A Walk to Remember and The Guardian, feature people.

This works because all the images have the same low-contrast, hazy look. The easiest way to achieve this on your own is to use the same filters or Photoshop actions on your images.

Design Pro Tip: Don’t have Photoshop? Just run your image through Instagram!

4. Steal Like an Artist

It’s no secret that the indie world (and trad pub, let’s be real) has a tendency to mimic whatever is selling best at the moment. Fifty Shades takes off, and all of a sudden, you’re seeing a plethora of still-life romance covers. This is sticky because, yes, of course you want your book and brand to look like it belongs in your genre (consistency, remember?), but you also want to stand out from the crowd. It’s perfectly fine to take what works from successful authors and apply it to your brand, but always remember to make your brand yours.

Design Pro Tip: This can be as simple flipping dark with light or using a complimentary color if most of your genre is skewing towards one hue. For example if you’re an urban fantasy author, doing a white cover will help you stand out among all the moody, dark book jackets. See how the one white cover catches your eye in this Google search?

cohesive branding
Google Image Search for Urban Fantasy Covers

The white cover has the same look and feel as the other urban fantasy/paranormal books, but it jumps out among its peers.

By following these easy guidelines, you can create an expert-looking, well-developed brand that will stand up against professionally designed work.

What are some other DIY alternatives you have found as an author on a budget?

Find out more about author/designer Dianne Frost on her website.

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