Monday, March 21, 2016

Learning From An Established Brand

A couple of ACFW conferences ago, I went to a workshop led by HCCP editors on branding. Honestly, I had thought my brand was a tagline. A catchy phrase that sums up an author's type of fiction. Some of my first novels were set in different times and cultures, so for a long while, I had figured my brand was, "History where Hearts and Cultures Collide." 


It is SO not that now, ten writing years later. I mean, most of my stories have that theme threaded through them, but as far as branding, that's just a drop in the bucket of what encompasses the brand of Angie Dicken.

What I learned from the workshop, and have been trying to grasp and create my own over the past couple of years, is something not so easily explained in a simple tagline.

The feeling, look, idea an author portrays through their writings and their own personality, is wrapped up in an author's very own brand. It's almost difficult to put into words what a "brand" is, because it's so much more than words.

Recently, I stumbled across a fabulous example of a brand. And it might be an apples to oranges kind of comparison. But none-the-less, it was a perfect little test for this post on brands.

My husband and I were talking about Harlequin. I am writing a proposal for their Love Inspired Historical line, and the topic of their logo came up. It struck me as odd that my husband didn't know that the Harlequin diamond is a play off of the Renaissance character's checkered costume. So I asked my Facebook friends:

And the overwhelming response from non-authors, non-publishing-industry friends was: Romance

I know, the brand of a well-established, humungous publishing house is on a much grander scale
than one author...but still, it is a successful brand marked by an identifiable logo. Harlequin IS romance. Each Harlequin line has a specific brand within itself, too. But they are all encompassed by the cohesive brand of romance.

It's what they are about. It's the feeling you get when you see their name, that immediate connection to romance. And the brand is established in stories that celebrate love.

Imagine being an author and changing the modern public's view of a historical symbol to help symbolize your very own brand? I mean, can you imagine seeing the Tudor rose and thinking Author Angie Dicken instead of it's original tie to the famous, and sometimes infamous, royal family? Dream much? Sure I do.

Okay, that's a little out there.

Seriously though, as an author trying to establish my brand, I need to consider what I am about, what I want to portray, and how memorable I can make my brand.

It takes time, doesn't it? I mean, being established is a huge part of that. There is a sophistication that goes along with this journey toward publication, and then beyond that debut novel to a whole career. Only time will tell. But, a brand should be considered very carefully by an author and go so much deeper than a tagline. It should be in the back of an author's mind as they move on to that next story, that next blog design, that next conference pitch.

As you establish your brand, everything you do as an author should spur the old Shakespeare line in your mind, "To thine own self be true," and you need to remember who you are each step of the wayEverything you are putting out there, are building blocks toward that established brand.

So, can you describe your brand? Do you have one yet? 

Can you think of another author's brand, or a business's brand that comes to mind?

Angie Dicken is a full-time mom and lives in the Midwest with her Texas Aggie sweetheart. An ACFW member since 2010, she has written six historical novels and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of The Steve Laube Agency. Angie also spends her time designing one-sheets and drinking good coffee with great friends. Check her personal blog at and connect at:
Twitter: @angiedicken


Jeanne Takenaka said...

Great tips, Angie! I'm still refining mine. I know my stories are about grace and faith, and that's what I try to convey in my interactions on my blog and social media. But I haven't defined it to more concise than that. :) You've given me some good thoughts to consider! Thanks. :)

Angie Dicken said...

It's tough to sum it up, isn't it Jeanne? I love that you have considered your story themes in your interactions on social media. Sounds like you are actively establishing your brand! Thanks for stopping by!