Creating content that matches your audience's expectations while being unique, identifiable and engaging is a difficult but important balance to maintain. Last week we talked about unifying your brand, but now let's talk about the brand itself. The first step to branding is to research your audience and find out what they want to see.
So, how do you work with your audience to create visual branding?
Focus on the genre and age-range
Although it may seem boring, sticking to what works is a great way to guarantee understanding. This is especially important if you're self-publishing, and/or aren't a big name who has a significant marketing budget.
Let's use book covers as an example. When there are millions of books to choose from, a vague or unique cover - however pretty or eye-catching - is far less likely to pique the interest of a reader who knows what they're looking for. A cover that represents the book perfectly is far better.
Your ads, website, and social media all have to follow the same rules. Yes, you should aim to be unique and provide some kind of value that your competition doesn't, but if you don't follow the basic rules of what's expected, no one is going to know who you are or what you're selling.
Poll your target audience
Although creating a poll is a pretty obvious way to get information from your audience, many people struggle to get good or accurate results. The trick here is to ask the right questions.
Instead of vague, broad questions like 'what would make you buy this?', keep things specific. Give the poll takers context about your book and your intended audience, and try to find a range of people to ask - not just the audience you have in mind (because this might change after feedback).
Which colours would instantly show them your genre?
What kinds of images would catch their eye?
What kinds of images would make them instantly know your genre?
What elements do their favourite book covers (in your genre) have?
(And as many more specific questions you can add.)
An alternative to polling is using a/b testing on Facebook, to see which types of posts get clicks and sales.
Discuss branding with your beta readers
Talking to your beta readers about the way they see you will give great insight into the look you should be aiming for, especially if you're a debut author just starting to create a brand.
These readers know your story/stories well, and are also likely to be 'expert' readers in your genre. This means they'll have a unique perspective on you, and may surprise you if they have a very different idea of your brand than you do.
Ask them similar questions as above, but be even more specific. For example, 'What visual imagery does my writing style create in your mind?', or 'What do you consider to be my personality as an author?'.
So, what's your author brand? Head to my socials and leave a comment!
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