Breakthrough Branding for Romance Authors. Part Deux. The Brand Signature.

This week, I will be posting examples of the kinds of brand signatures you should be able to formulate by completing the brand profile. So, if you are stumped or have run into a block, this should help. I am going to spend a lot of time with this profile before we move on to other areas of branding and promotion, because the framework is the foundation for everything that comes after–like developing a creative strategy. Strategy is the next phase of your brand work, as well as planning promotion and advertising; what kinds of media to use, print/cyber, whether to twitter or not, holding contests/giveaways, etc.

Branding is emotional, just like romance novels. A reader’s decision to purchase a new release from a branded author is not based on a value proposition or couponing. Whether a reader purchases a favorite author for $6.99 through Amazon or pays $7.99 at Barnes & Noble is irrelevant. Once your brand is established, readers will purchase again because they enjoyed your other novels and you deliver a great read. How did Donald Maass put it, again? “Delight your readers with your own brand of story, then continue to delight them in a similar way (only better) on a regular basis.”

EXAMPLES OF BRAND PROFILE DIRECTIONS: Pull out four or five key words or phrases from your profile, then, create a run-on sentence––string them all together. I have put together some examples below.

Chick Lit Profile: These female survival guides promise laughter, steamy love scenes, sexy infuriating men and sassy smart heroines.

Take away: WOW! This author makes me laugh. She is fresh and vibrant. I love her sexy, infuriating men! I want to look her up on Amazon and purchase.

Erotic Romance Profile: Buttoned-up business women loose their passions with powerful, difficult alpha males and reveal darker, hidden agendas.

Take away: M-mm. Sounds like she sets up interesting tensions. Power chicks, dark sexy heroes and kink. I’m intrigued.

So, what is your brand signature? Dark and erotic? Fresh and funny? Let’s do one more:

Paranormal: Magically-powered heroines pair with ultra sexy/macho mortal heroes for hot sex/adventure.

Take away: I’d love to know how the mortal men keep up, or keep it up? Haha! The brand sentence above seems like it is limited to a series. In that respect, if I was the author, I might want to broaden the signature. Also what is the tone? Is this light paranormal or dark? Could be either.

The place to crystallize your brand is in the signature or tag line. I’ll use myself as an example. I write historical romantic suspense, as well as historical paranormal, on the hot end of the love scene spectrum. My brand signature is:

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

What does this say to you? Well, I am trying for several things. Fields in time says historical, but also hints at paranormal. What about hot or erotic content? Burn with desire. I’d say so! Meet me there. Invites the reader into my world of fiction.

Most everyone I know writes in more than one subgenre, so dig deep and look for the defining characteristics of your work, beyond category.

Go back through your profile and consider your brand signature. If you would like feed back please e-mail me direct or leave a comment on this blog. My website and email address are listed below. Above all, don’t get discouraged. Even if you set the profile aside for a while, keep working on your brand. Eventually, you will hit upon an idea and things will click into place.

Graphics (visuals) as well as copy play a huge role in branding, here is your HOMEWORK FOR NEXT WEEK:

Sometimes concrete examples help with the finer points of branding, so I have created what I hope is a fun exercise. I want you to visit several author websites. They must be sites you have never visited before. And they must be authors who do not have established brands. Click on a few tabs, and gather impressions. TRY NOT TO READ ANYTHING. Now, quickly close up the window.

Write down your impressions of each author. What is the brand personality of the website? Based on your glance at the graphics, what subgenre do they write? Are you intrigued? Now go back to the sites for a second visit, read a few pages. How well did the writers/authors do? Does their site reflect a strong brand identity? Did you guess their subgenre correctly?

I have included a few websites at random. Some are unpublished authors, others are pubbed. They are all in the process of building their brand. How well do we think they are doing? Next week: How to Create a Brand Strategy.

G. Jillian Stone

There are fields in time that burn with desire. Meet me there.

Jillian is a recent Golden Heart finalist for THE YARD MAN, the first story in The Yard Men Series. Set in late Victorian London, Scotland Yard detectives have never been as wickedly sexy or as brilliantly clever. To read more about her latest work in progress, THE SEDUCTION OF PHAETON BLACK, please drop by her website:


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