Tuesday, August 14, 2018


I've just returned from Once Upon a Book Convention in Frankenmuth, MI, where I participated in the Building Your Brand panel. We had such a good time discussing the ins and outs of branding and how it applies in different situations.

I was asked to share a recap of my input, so below you will find the questions and my answers to each.

(Please note, these are my own personal opinions and experiences and can apply differently for each reader and the other panel participants.)

Building Your Brand Panel
Questions & Answers

What is branding? Why is it important?
The definition of Branding is: The marketing practice of creating a theme or design that identifies and differentiates a product from other products.

And that right there, is exactly why it’s important. Having an effective brand gives you an edge in the market place, because it makes you and your products (books in our case) stand out or be instantly recognizable as your own work.

How exactly do you identify your unique brand?
Try naming three things that you want your brand to be recognized for. Three things that describe what you’re trying to convey, then work your brand around those things.

For me personally, it simply developed from the type of books that I write, but also, very much from who I am as a person, which is how I would recommend finding your own.

Because I mostly write paranormal romance, as well as myself being known for my ‘witchy’ ways, those magical elements are what I based my brand on, because it’s what people already recognized about me and my books.

How do you build your brand when you write in different genres?
I think it depends on what those different genres are. For me, because I write in genres that are similar enough to each other (PNR, Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Sci-Fi & Dystopian) I’m able to use the same brand across the board. Also, because I consider myself as part of my brand, and not one individual book, I prefer to keep it consistent. That’s not to say that each series doesn’t have its own theme, or consistent design, but my overall brand remains the same across those themes.

How do you protect your brand?
Trademarking is typical … if done correctly. :) Also, my logo is copyrighted artwork, and thankfully, because I’m the only Tish Thawer in the world (according to Google), that really helps to keep it distinguishable from anything else that may be similar.

When hiring someone to help build your brand—such as a PR company—what questions should you be asking?

1. Are they aware of what you write/sell?

2. If so, what is the first thought that popped into their head about you and your work? (This isn’t meant to critique, but can certainly help identify how you’re already being ‘seen’ and give you a base for what your brand should be or what you might need to change.)

3. And obviously, ask for examples of their previous work, because if you’re looking to build a full ‘brand’ (website, promotional platform, ads, etc.) and all they show you are a bunch of logos, they may not have the extended services or ideas that you’re looking for.

What is a logo and how is it different from a brand? Do authors need both?
Yes. You need both, because your logo is just one small piece of your overall brand. It’s the design or mark that helps identify your brand.

Your brand includes every single touch-point your customers or readers have with you. That means your website, your promo images, your ads, your video trailers, your swag products, even your packaging. Every single point is part of your overall brand, and will most likely contain your logo as the identifier.

In my case, you’ll find my logo on every promo image I create, on my website, my reader boxes, etc. and all have some level of a witchy/magical feel, which makes up my overall brand.

Below is an example of how a logo works as the identifier for your brand and why it's important.

(All images from Gomedia.com) 

Above: Most companies think this is how a logo works: You see their logo, have a positive reaction, then spend your money.
Unfortunately, that's not how it happens.

Above: In reality, you see a logo, which then reminds you of EVERY interaction you've had with that company, which will then hopefully illicit a positive reaction, and then you spend your money.

Above: Problems can arise from an improper logo, which doesn't create any recognition of your brand, which then leads to a negative reaction, which equals lost sales.

What competitive edge can a strong brand image give you?
From my personal experience, it’s been a huge edge. A few examples are that I’ve had bigger publishers (Hachette Group and Orbit - one of their imprints) and author’s who’ve reached out to me to blurb their new ‘witchy’ books, because that’s what I’m known for. Or readers sharing things with me and saying, “These are completely witchy and reminded me of you.” So, in the overall scheme of things, that means my brand is working. When they see something in that theme… I’m what pops into their mind, though I'm sure not all the time, and not exclusively, but in enough instances that means I’m on the right track with my branding.

What’s the importance of showcasing a “personality” in your brand?
I think it lets people feel closer to you. If your genuine personality filters over into your work and brand, and that’s something they see, it creates more of a realistic interaction which hopefully leaves them feeling positive about you and your product, which is exactly what you want.

But on the flip-side, it can also pose a pitfall if you're not careful. If you yourself are a big part of your brand and you have one bad interaction with a person, you risk that having a negative affect on your overall brand. So again … just keep it positive.

Tell us how you make your own brand unique.
I had a custom logo created that features a sigil, which is a magical symbol with a stylized version of my name that I use on every piece of promo that I create. Then, I just try to be consistent with the layout of all my promo pieces, ads, website, etc. so that those things are easily identifiable as coming from me! And again, since I’m genuinely connected to my brand by the person I am, I just try to keep things and all my interactions as ‘real’ as possible.

If an author feels their current brand is lacking or needs an update, how do they fix that and what tips would you have for the unveiling of a fresh rebrand?
I would first start by asking yourself those same two initial questions.
1.   Are others aware of what you write?
2.  And how are you currently being ‘seen’ or thought about?
And again, this isn’t meant to critique or a time to get down on yourself, but to identify problem areas in your brand.

If the answer to the first question is … “Not a lot of people know I write Fantasy and Contemporary Romance – then you may need to rethink your branding, whether across the board or separate for each genre if you feel they’re too diverse.

Similarly, if the answer to question two is … “My readers don’t really know that I feature wings (or magic, or whatever), in every one of my books, that’s something you can change with your branding. Feature that element in your logo, then post about it with images, and other ‘themed’ swag on a consistent basis, until it becomes something they affiliate with you through your brand.

As for the unveiling – I always think it’s best to be honest, and personally, I’m pretty conversational in most of my posts so I may say something like “Hey guys, after taking a hard look at my branding and previous marketing efforts, I’m thrill to unveil my new logo and brand….” Then I’d go on to explain they ‘why’ behind it, like the magic or feather in every book, but be sure to keep it positive. After that, it’s all about consistency and saturation. No one like to be spammed, but out the gate, you’ll want to post a little more often to stay in their line-of-site, and be sure your using eye-catching graphics that include that new logo!

I hope this recap was helpful, and if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me! ~ Tish