WHEN I WAS IN THE MARKETING BUSINESS, ONE OF THE THINGS THAT I MOST ENJOYED DOING was helping small businesses with their branding. The principles I used are exactly the same as those that should be used by an author or indie musician.

Did you know that branding is probably the most important factor in giving your business the ability to “Run with the Big Dogs”?

For those of you who don’t know, branding is the visual component of your business image. Your logo, colors, font styles, and images all work together to create a visual connection in the minds of your followers. This visual connection is usually the first thing that pops into someone’s head when a company is mentioned. It’s a subconscious thing, and frequently the person isn’t even aware what is happening. But think about it…

…Apple. If you were in a store looking for an Apple product, would you look for the word “Apple” – or would you look for the image?

What about FedEx? Do you look for the words, or the orange and blue? And Target – is the word “Target” what you look for, or do you look for that red and white circle?


So how can you make that work in your favor? With a properly branded image, your author or indie musician “company” becomes a visual entity that pops into people’s minds involuntarily. It helps to create trust and loyalty. It creates, subconsciously, a conviction that you are the best, whether that person has ever done business with you or not. They have a confidence that, when they are ready for your service or product, you are the one they will go to.

How do you brand your author image? Fortunately, it’s simple. Here are 6 easy steps to branding your author business:

1. Branding with Colors

Choose your colors carefully, because your choice of colors now will become the colors you are known by, and will be known by for a long time. Mine was easy – my favorite color has always been green. Your color(s) should be the background color of your author head shot, or the color of the clothing you are wearing in the head shot.

The color you choose should also be a color that can be incorporated into your book cover graphics, whether it’s the primary image, or whether it’s the title and/or author text.

Ingrid Sundberg's Color Thesaurus / branding

Images from Ingrid Sundberg’s Color Thesaurus.

Use colors that reflect your genre. For instance, a children’s author would use entirely different colors than an author who writes mysteries, or science fiction, or thrillers. And none of their colors would be right for a romance author.

2. Branding with a Logo (your author head shot)

Start with a good photograph that shows who you are. It should be just a head shot, because your primary use is going to be online, where people will frequently be looking at a very small image.

Oh, yes, make sure that the clothing that can be seen in the photo is a solid color, not a multi-colored print. Unless you want to be known by a multi-colored print. 😉

Some people have asked about using a logo instead of a head shot. It doesn’t hurt to have a logo, if you want one. I think of Nora Roberts’ logo, printed fairly small on all her book jackets. But if you use the logo for your social media profile images, people may think you’re a business, and scroll right past your social media posts. Or worse yet, unfollow you because they think you’re spam.

3. Secondary Image

Choose a secondary image that coordinates with your headshot. For authors, this would preferably be one of your book covers, or a collection of covers. With the right image, people will start to associate your title(s) with your head shot.

Dinner Parties by Xandra Nash recipe book covers / branding

Images from “Dinner Parties by Xandra Nash” on Amazon.com

4. Branded Social Media Profiles

When you have your good head shot photo and secondary image ready, use them everywhere. Customize your Facebook business page, Twitter, YouTube, and Goodreads accounts, along with any other place you are online professionally. Use the images and colors on your business cards, future book covers, and all advertising materials.

People will begin to associate your logo and colors with you. They will trust you and feel loyal to you, and when they are ready to buy their next book, you will be the first to pop into their minds.

5. Branded Website

Every author needs a website. Every indie musician needs a website. Every business wanting to do anything in today’s world needs a website. I simply can’t stress this enough. Having a website, even if it’s just one page, gives validity to your author brand.

Having a valid author brand increases your sales and your bottom line.

This brings me to the domain name. Please use your own author name. If you write romance books, and your author name is Suzie Smith, don’t make your domain name “IHeartTennesseeWalkingHorses.com”. People won’t be able to find you! Choose SuzieSmith.com, or SuzieSmithBooks.com instead.

On your website, use your author head shot image, and your secondary image, prominently.

6. Branded Business Cards

We as authors definitely need business cards. When we venture out of our writing nooks into the great big world for some event, and can’t talk because we’re still in the fantasy world we created – we can hand someone a business card.

Have nice business cards made. There are a number of places online where you can order good ones at very reasonable prices. Put your head shot or one of your book cover graphics on the back of the business card.

Hopefully, if you aren’t branded yet, or haven’t already done these things, this information helps you to get yourself branded as a valid author. Tell me how it goes in the comments below – I would treasure your thoughts.

Thank you for reading!