Five Things to Remember When Developing a “Brand”


December 27, 2013 by Mod

The life blood of indie authors is the repeat customer. The most successful indie authors out there are the ones who know how to manage their “brand” and a big part of brand management is to nail the brand look. This is also the case in mainstream publishing. Think about the Fifty Shades trilogy for example.

It’s a simple design, maybe even a bit banal, but tie me up and beat me if it’s not recognizable! Another series that pulled off the same trick extremely well is the Twilight series.

VERY simple covers. Very recognizable brand.

So how do you develop a brand look? There is no one way, but there are several issues to bear in mind. Here are some things you can discuss with your cover designer:

1. Color

There are two approaches to color when developing a brand. One is to keep all the covers within the same color range, to repeat colors over covers as the Fifty Shades and Twilight covers do.

Another approach is to develop your series with a range of colors. This is the approach I took with CC Mackenzie Ludlow Hall books – each cover highlighting a different color.

banner copy

There are no hard and fast rules to determine which approach to take with color, only that if you DO decide to use a range of colors, your series or brand look should be harmonious in some other way.

2. Image Choice

With the range of stock imagery available, it is very easy to choose images that are harmonious with each other to help define your brand. Consider these premade series covers for example, which also demonstrate a varied color approach.

sfs1-1 $49

sfs1-1 $49

sfs1-2 $49

sfs1-2 $49

Another option might be to line up several images all from the same shoot, or using the same stock models. Here is another premade series in which I recolored the dress to create variety:

3. Continuity

Covers should work harmoniously, and continuity is one way to achieve this. If one cover has a close-up of a model, and the other cover has a full body shot for example, the series might not have the harmonious look you want to aim for. You’ll notice that in Cyndi Tefft’s Between series I choice images that were all approximately the same scale – a man’s torso, waist to head.

cyndi3final-lflip copy-sm cyndi2final-repair copysm cyndifinal1fix copysm

Other small elements can create continuity. The small Celtic symbol appears on all three of Tefft’s covers. The Ludlow Hall covers all feature a “flare” (evoking an engagement ring as these are HEA books) in the lettering.

4. Lettering and Fonts.
Fonts are a great way of creating your brand look. They are particularly useful for helping to create an author brand across several different series. Notice, for example, how CC Mackenzie’s name appears in the same font across both her Ludlow Nights, her Ludlow Hall series and her new Desert Princes series.

5. Layout

As far as possible design elements such as titles, images, series names and blurbs should all be laid out in the same positions or in harmonious positions across the series. Notice how in the beachy premade covers above, the layouts mirror each other rather than match. In contrast the elements of the Ludlow Hall series are all in identical positions.

I’m always very careful ask my clients about their branding issues. Are they writing a series? Are they looking for a an author brand? These are decisions that should be made at the beginning of the cover design process. I hope the above will help you to discuss the branding issue with your cover designer.

5 thoughts on “Five Things to Remember When Developing a “Brand”

  1. Aurora says:

    I am really liking the set with the female model in different colors, just wish I had a set of books that needed something like that.

  2. lost_limey says:

    Interesting thoughts on branding and especially covers and unity for indie authors. My one question is simply: What’s your “go to” site for stock/royalty free images and what do you feel is an appropriate amount for an indie author to pay for a cover image?

    • I use Bigstock mostly. Stock images are surprisingly cheap if you are okay with non-exclusive use. I rarely bill clients more than $15 per image but most of my covers use at least two images.

  3. […] Five Things to Remember When Developing a “Brand”. […]

  4. […] to make sure you’re getting the cover of your dreams. I have posted about this here, here and here. And please, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any […]

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