By Rachel Thompson | Blog

Jun 20

What is branding? 


I’m asked this question a lot by authors.


It sounds painful and scary, doesn’t it? Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not and you’re probably already doing it.


Have you identified your genre? Sure you have! Do you have topics you’re passionate about? Of course you do.


That’s part of your brand.




Branding is not something you create; it already exists inside you. What you have to do is identify the main words or concepts that define you, focus on them, and viola! You are branded. (Okay, that’s simplified, but you get the idea.)


These main words you will use are called keywords. Your keywords will help you figure out how it is exactly you want people to identify you.


You’re thinking okay. I get that. Kinda.


So, here’s an example: I’m RachelintheOC. The OC is Orange County, CA, home of Disneyland, beaches and blondes. I’m the anti-OC: a pale redhead in a sea of blondes, who couldn’t give a hoot about the House of Mouse.


My social media, blog and books cover topics like: being a redhead in a sea of blondes. (See how that works?)


I also write about men, women, love, relationships, sex, loss, snark, and okay, coffee, Nutella, and vodka. These are my main keywords. You know when you come anywhere on my author platform, this is what you’re gonna get.


I’m also BadRedheadMedia. The focus there is totally different! Social media, marketing, branding, writing, blogging, business, Amazon…these are my main keywords.


One chick, two brands. (And sometimes the snark comes out in both. Oh well.)


Great. Keywords. Got it. Now…what do I do?


I spent fifteen years as a pharma rep, trainer, and ad account exec. Putting together stories for products is what we did.


Most authors rebel against being a product. But I’ve got news for ya: you are.

Readers love to find out about authors: coffee or tea, chocolate or…not, when we write, what inspires us…and on and on. Writing your book is the easy part (and I say that with much sarcasm). Now you need to create your story.


Which isn’t that hard, is it? Nobody knows you like well, you! Pick six to nine words that describe who you are: as a person, author, parent, friend…whatever.


Once you’ve settled on those, now start creating content (tweets, blog posts, Facebook status messages, LinkedIn profile, Pinterest, etc.), to reflect those words.


Okay, so wait a minute. Isn’t my book the product?


Yes. Yes it is. Kinda.


Sure, the goal is to sell more books. But do you think people really care which book they’re buying from say, Chelsea Handler? NO. They just know she’s that funny blonde chick with the razor sharp-tongue.




Handler is a brilliant marketer (on top of being brilliantly funny). She makes the most of being an intelligent blonde in Hollywood. Do you ever see her without a smirk on her face? No. That’s her trademark.


As authors, it’s our job to make people interested in our content and we accomplish this by branding.


Okay, I think I have it. But why is branding so important?


Your keywords will help you in the creation of your author bio, Twitter & Facebook profiles, your blog (you want to tag your posts using these words), website, and even your Amazon tags and categories!


All of this goes to your SEO and SMO – Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Optimization – which, even if you don’t understand those terms (and I’ll review them in future posts), all count toward how people discover you in Google (and other search engines), and Amazon (and other online stores).


And if you decide to do any advertising (i.e., Google AdWords, Facebook or Goodreads ads), these keywords become even more important – they help people to discover you.


These are the simplified basics of branding. Not as painful as you thought, right? I hope this article has helped you understand it a bit more, and why as authors, we need to not only understand it but embrace it.


I welcome your comments and questions below! 


Find both my bestselling books on Amazon exclusively. If you’re still in search of more detailed information on branding, I’m available for one-on-one consultations.


Budget an issue? Check out this fab book by author and marketing expert Lori Culwell: HOW TO MARKET A BOOK. Easy, practical tips with lots of great information you can use now.


Next up: Why blogging is critical to your success! 


About the Author

Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month – created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader’s “Best of 2015” top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed.

She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…),,, and Self-Publishers Monthly.

Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs,  #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with Melissa Flickinger) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with certified therapist/survivor, Bobbi Parish all live Twitter chats.

She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.

Leave a Comment:

(31) comments

Kristin June 20, 2012

I devour everything you have to say! Branding is so very important! Thank you!
Have a pretty day!

    Rachel Thompson June 20, 2012

    Oh, thank you, sweet Kristin! It is important and I think people think it’s a harder, more difficult concept than it is. Thanks for commenting!

Ciara Ballintyne June 20, 2012

Yeah, branding is still hard LOL. I GET it, I just struggle to make the connection between me and my writing. I think perhaps that’s easier when you write non-fiction about yourself – you write about the things you are. My lack of tolerance for idiocy, however, seems less relateable to dragons and magic.

I also think you might shoot me if I ask who Chelsea Handler is…

    Rachel Thompson June 20, 2012

    Love your comment, Ciara. I do hear the ‘it’s easier cause you’re nonfiction’ quite a bit. But the same concepts still apply: what interests you? what do you write about? People know you as a fantasy writer and someone who blogs (winningly) about writing, an Aussie, an attorney, a strong female voice (positive traits I might add).

    All those elements help identify who you are and we know what to expect when we visit you in various places.

    Chelsea Handler is a female comedian turned successful cable talk show host (Chelsea Lately) but with a twist: she’s very bitchy and sarcastic. You know her, I’m sure:

    (She’s also now acting).

      Ciara Ballintyne June 21, 2012

      Haha, yes, the strong female voice bit is easy 😉 thanks for the tips Rachel.

Amelia James June 21, 2012

Finally something I’m doing right! Kinda. One of these days all this stuff is going to go *click* and it’ll all make sense to me. Either that or I’ll end up in a straight jacket. Anyway, thanks again for your help!

    Rachel Thompson June 21, 2012

    Sweet! You get it more than you think you do. I think. Much of branding is our natural tendency anyway.

    Okay, now I’m just confused. haha. #kidding


Rachel – I read just about everything you tweet. Even though you write with authors in mind, I am learning a lot from your posts. BTW, I do RT you a lot. Thanks for sharing.

    Rachel Thompson June 21, 2012

    Thanks so much, Nancy. I appreciate your comments and RTs! I do work with many different types of clients — not strictly writers — so much of the basics apply to anyone.

Justin Bog June 21, 2012

I love the idea of branding, but have trouble thinking outside of the brand: Writer. Or Author . . . You’ve given me a lot to think about. Kipling and Zippy need to jump on my brandwagon.

Lorca Damon June 22, 2012

Love this. So many authors (sadly) think it’s all about the art and craft of writing, that if I’m just a “great writer,” the books will sell. Guess what? The dollar bin at the back of Walmart is full of books that were supposedly good enough for a traditional publishing deal. And those books are even really good. They just didn’t sell because there was no marketing drive behind them.

Thank you for keeping all writers grounded and telling it like it is!

    Rachel Thompson June 22, 2012

    Thank you, Lorca! I appreciate your insightful comments about books — the best book in the world will just sit there lonely until someone ‘builds it.’ xo

R J Samuel June 22, 2012

Hi Rachel,

Just wanted to say the advice in the book you co-wrote (Dollars & Sense) was the best I’ve read so far on branding. It will probably take a while to have an effect on book sales etc as I am not great at self-promotion but it really clarified things for me and helped me re-design my website and approach. And the most positive thing is that I’m much happier about my brand as it feels authentic to me.

So, thanks! You make a difference.

R J Samuel

    Rachel Thompson June 22, 2012

    Thanks, RJ! You know, for whatever reason, the book is no longer available. I was cofounder of the IBC and now that I left (in December 11), I’ve no idea why it’s been pulled. I now recommend a terrific book by @LoriCulwell titled HOW TO MARKET A BOOK — great, practical info. Glad you’re here though — welcome!

      R J Samuel June 27, 2012

      You’re welcome, Rachel. That’s strange, I bought it quite recently (trying to remember when..think it was only two months ago..). Pity if it was pulled, really helpful book.

      I’ll get Lori Culwell’s book, thanks for the recommendation, need all the help I can get now 🙂

Joe Brewster June 23, 2012

Great fresh title for this blog entry. ‘Fresh’ is another keyword for your Brand.

Fresh, fast & focused. I feel like I’ve been through a mini-motivational expo the way you present each piece of branding concept puzzle so it sizzles and pops.

I’ve heard a lot of this before but I Totally GET it when you bring it into focus by relating it to yourself because every word you write is validated right there before my eyes.

Branding has kinda been like something on my To Do List as a writer. Reading this I am reminded it should be part of my writer DNA.





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Sandra de Helen August 9, 2012

Thank you so much for this and all your articles, Rachel. Like so many others have said, I now read everything you write. I was so happy to see your article in the SF Review of Books yesterday. I didn’t even know about the Portland Review of Books until I saw that. Shameful! I immediately ordered a sponsored review because I’m just a few days past the 120 cutoff for free reviews. But now I know the deadline for my next book. I’m learning so much about marketing. I’m happy to be in that 20% that sells more than 100 books. I had a great month last month, and am planning for even better sales in the future, as I learn more about who I am (brand) and who my readers are. Thanks again!

    Rachel Thompson August 10, 2012

    Wow, Sandra, that’s amazing! Good for you.

    I’m so flattered by your sweet comments. I too was happy to see the SF Review pick up my article — I didn’t query them but one of their editors found me and I’m thrilled they loved my stuff. I’m writing another one now for them!

    Keep rocking it, and visit anytime! xo


Branding Isn’t Your Best Friend; It’s Your New Lover by @BadRedheadMedia #branding #amwriting


Branding Isn’t Your Best Friend; It’s Your New Lover by @BadRedheadMedia #branding #amwriting


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[…] something to schedule in tweets/shares, etc (I prefer Hootsuite) helps me address a number of my keywords and topics and spread them out also. Sure, I’ll go on a Nutella riff, but that’s not […]

Amelia M. Gobler September 20, 2014

Thanks for finally writing about >BRANDING
ISN’T YOUR BEST FRIEND: IT’S YOUR NEW LOVER by @BadRedheadMedia <Loved it!

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