How to Create your Author Brand

Hello TWC world!


My name is Nikkita Bell (or Nikki) and I am a science fantasy/fantasy author published in three anthologies! When I am not world building and convincing my characters to ‘do the right thing,’ I am a graphic designer by trade! For the past year, I’ve been helping indie authors all over our community by bringing their visions to life by creating an online presence through branding and marketing!


But what is branding exactly?


In simple terms, your branding is your “look.” It’s what makes you stand out throughout the industry and community. It helps your followers identify you. It’s a logo, aesthetic, and color scheme that you use throughout your website, products, and much more. Today, we are going to dig deep into all aspects of branding to help you bring your author dreams to life!


Your logo/branding is made up of three core elements:

  • Icon/Imagery

  • Typography/Fonts

  • Color Scheme


Let’s break them all down:


There are multiple aspects of putting together your brand and making it unforgettable. One of the most important factors is your aesthetic/look and feel.

But Nikki, how do I know what my aesthetic is?


Well, friend, it comes down to two things:


First, what do YOU like? Do you love ravens and quill & ink pots? Maybe your favorite mythological creature is a dragon or a wolf? Maybe you write stories about space knights with a complex and striking magic system?


Perhaps you love the look and feel of dark academia, the feeling of cozying up with a good book and cup of tea. Maybe it’s cottage core, where you love soft, muted tones and beautiful flowers. Or maybe, you just love every color in the rainbow and want to show the world that you’re vibrant and bold!


Second, it comes down to your genre of writing. There’s a big difference between the look of an author who writes space operas and an author who writes regency romance. You won’t typically see the same color schemes, iconography, or even the same fonts! This brings me to the most important aspect of all:


Fonts


Fonts are a beautiful thing. Whether we realize it or not, the font chosen for a logo or even a sign at a restaurant will tell you what you’re going to expect when interacting with a brand.


Here are some examples of font styles and what aesthetic they typically relate to:


Serifs


In technical terms, a serif simply refers to the little knobbies and tails that hang off on the corners of the letter. These fonts are typically used when wanting to evoke a classical, sophisticated look.


  • Font Examples: Times New Roman, Georgia, Garamond, Playfair Display

  • Genres that Benefit from Serif Fonts: High Fantasy, Regency Romance, Historical Fiction


Sans Serif


This is the opposite of a Serif font. They lack the ‘knobbies and tails’ that I was talking about in the previous section. These fonts are typically used when wanting to evoke a modern, sleek look.


  • Font Examples: Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, Trebuchet

  • Genres that Benefit from Sans Serif Fonts: Urban Fantasy, Contemporary Romance, Futuristic


Script


This is best known as ‘handwritten’ or ‘cursive’ fonts. These fonts are typically used when wanting to evoke a feminine, elegant look.


  • Font Examples: Edwardian Script, Pacifico, Lobster, Windsong

  • Genres that Benefit from Script Fonts: YA (typically YA romance or contemporary), Romance, Children’s


Aesthetic


Next, I’d like to talk a little bit about logo aesthetics and art styles. There are different types of styles you might want to choose when having your logo created. To name a few:


Flat color

This is a simple look, best for modern looks. Great for websites that are very photograph and gallery based. Your logo will serve as a nice watermark, keeping your site straightforward and timeless.

Watercolor


This is a very elegant, creative, and soft look. It is achieved by using watercolor textures throughout your logo, as if it were painted! These are great for Romance and Fantasy genres, especially if you’d like to add a touch of whimsy to your brand.



Watercolor

This is a very elegant, creative, and soft look. It is achieved by using watercolor textures throughout your logo, as if it were painted! These are great for Romance and Fantasy genres, especially if you’d like to add a touch of whimsy to your brand.










Sketch/Illustration/Stamp


Logos that appear sketched or illustrated are very common within the author community and, in my humble opinion, STUNNING! Sketch/illustration logos usually imply that the icon/imagery was, well, sketched or drawn! It is perfect for most genres, if not all genres. They’re usually used with flat colors and no shading. They’d look great as stamps and stickers, as well!



3D Effect

This style of effect is awesome for more of a magic vibe. It’s using multiple layers and shading that suggests that the logo is multidimensional. These types are WONDERFUL for science fiction, science fantasy, and fantasy in general. You’ll immediately know what types of books this author produced by looking at this logo. This author in particular uses a symbol that is widespread throughout their books and series to tie into their branding!






Ethereal

Similar to the 3D effect, ethereal effects suggest a very magical, spectral aesthetic. It can be used to science fiction, science fantasy, futuristic genres, and much more.


Naturally, there are plenty of other types of designs! These are just a few examples that I wanted to narrow down for you all. These designs were created by me for some of our TWC friends! Others are previous clients of mine.





Color Scheme


The best way to draw in a reader, customer, etc, is having a brilliant color scheme! Different colors evoke different emotions, so it not only comes down to what YOUR favorite colors are, but the PAIRINGS of colors that pull the logo and aesthetic together flawlessly.

Your color scheme usually has 4-6 colors to choose from. These colors can be used throughout your logo, website, or newsletter.


Here are the different types of color schemes to consider when creating your brand:


Monochromatic


The name is self explanatory; it means your color scheme is based on one color and different shades of that color.


Example: A monochromatic blue scheme would include different shades of blue.


This is an example of a blue palette.



Complementary


Complementary colors are basically two colors that complement each other. You can find out which two colors complement each other by looking at a color wheel! The color that is opposite of another color means they are complementary. These are also known as ‘contrasting colors.’


Example: Purple and yellow. Red and green. Orange and blue


Fun fact: Did you know most action movie posters almost always include orange and blue color schemes? It’s meant to evoke a sense of boldness and striking contrast!


This is an example of a teal and orange palette.




Analogous


These are colors that have a close relation to each other and can successfully pull off a gradient, or “ombre” look!


Examples: Yellow, yellow-green, and green. Violet, red-violet, and red.

This is an example of a violet-blue violet-blue palette.



Triadic

This basically means three colors that are evenly spaced on the color wheel. They’re based on a three-color scheme and usually include different shades of the three colors.


Example: Red-yellow-blue. Orange-purple-green.


Fun Fact: Triadic colors are often seen used in food or restaurant logos. Did you know red and yellow are meant to evoke hunger?

This is an example of a orange-yellow-blue palette.



Primary Logos vs. Secondary Logos and Submarks


Your logo is YOUR BRAND! It’s the way you are perceived among your followers and prospective readers. You want your look to not only emulate a specific look and feel, you want to make it memorable. This brings me into the difference between primary logos and secondary logos and sub-marks!


Primary Logo


This is your full logo with your name, tagline, colors and effects. This logo is usually displayed on your website or any larger pieces of merch that you would want to create and sell (t-shirts, notebooks, etc).


Secondary Logo


This is usually a simplified/smaller version of your logo, usually in a circular shape that can be used as a social media ‘profile picture’ or avatar. It can also be used as a ‘sign off’ graphic at the end of your newsletters, blogs, Instagram posts, or certain pages of your website.


Submarks


Submarks are basically other icons and symbols that apply to your brand. These may include the symbols used in your primary logo. You would use these as background elements on Instagram posts, blog posts, etc.


Here are examples of main/full logo vs. secondary logos:


Last but not least, you’re probably wondering: Great, I know all this cool info! But... I have no technical know-how to get it all done! HELP!


This is where a graphic designer would come in handy! If you feel that you need a little more help in putting together your author branding or making it look more professional, seek out the services of a graphic designer. It’s very important to choose a designer who has a portfolio of work with the styles you like or would want to emulate. It’s also important to choose someone you would get along with very well. If you find that you’re a little lost and can’t decide what sort of look you’d like, most designers will provide 2-3 (or more) options to help you narrow it down! They will also provide you with the logos I described above (primary, secondary, and submarks.)


I know it’s a lot to unpack, but these are your go-to must-haves when it comes to knowing all about author branding! Your books are your product, and you are an incredible, creative boss who deserves to have their work shared with the world!



Meet Nikkita Bell

As you can see by her incredible work on The Writer Community branding, Nikkita really knows her stuff. If you’d like to check out Nikkita graphic design business, please give her a follow or visit her site!


www.nicolehayley.com

@nicolehayleyart


Nikkita is also a published author and TWC brand ambassador. From the mystical land of Los Angeles, California, Nikkita is an artist by day and writer by night. She flourishes in creating something from nothing, writing fantasy, & sci-fi (with a subgenre of steampunk), mystery, and romance.


You can follow her @nikkitawrites or visit her website https://www.nikkitawrites.com/

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