The number one question I hear writers ask is this: “Do I have to have a brand?”
It may come in the form of, “Do I really need to care about marketing?” Or, “Why should I worry about self-promotion?”
But really, they're all saying the same thing: “I don't want to do the work.”
It's a subtle form of arrogance to believe your work can stand on its own without any help. Sure, you might get lucky (which is rare). But if you're like most writers who make it, you'll have to hustle. And branding yourself is part of the process.
For some reason, a lot of creative people push back on the idea that they need a brand. It feels gimmicky and non-artistic. But the truth is you already have a brand; you just need to do something with it.
Why everyone has a brand
A brand is exactly what it sounds like. It's an impression you leave on a customer or reader; it's a mental imprint. We all have them.
You've likely heard some adage about the importance of first impressions. This is branding — the belief that people get an idea in their mind of your personality based on an experience they had.
Sometimes, the impression is accurate; sometimes, it's not. But it's never the full picture of the person, (that's impossible). And that's okay. It's what branding is all about.
A brand is the simplest, most memorable part of yourself you can give.
People are forming an opinion of you right now. You can either participate in what they think, or not. Either way, you're going to be stuck with a brand.
Brand yourself. There are three elements of every brand (which I talk about in my eBook, You Are a Writer). You need to pay attention to each one:
- Pick a name. This is what you call yourself (e.g. Copyblogger or Anne Lamott). It may be your given name or a pseudonym; whatever it is, make sure you're consistent. Your website, business cards, and social media all need to say the same thing.
- Create an image. This can be a logo or headshot. It's whatever you want to use to make people recognize you. If it's a photo, people ought to be able to recognize you in real life from it. Also, make sure it's on your blog, Twitter profile, etc. Don't use different images; make them all the same. Michael Hyatt does a great job with this.
- Find your voice. This is more than how you sound. It's your style as a communicator. If you aren't confident in your unique voice, go through these 10 steps to find it.