Most people understand branding a product - Campbell's Soup, Coca-Cola. When developing the brand for a product you have a few things:
- Consistency of design
- Consistency of tag line/messaging
- Ability for easy classification
- Ability for easy recognition
- Cover design (product)
- Title of book (product)
- Tag lines (product)
Is what I've been focusing on in my other posts: Branding where to begin & Branding Part 2 The Basics and we'll have more on this important topic but for now I just want people to realize that there is a distinction between the two so let's get back to product branding.
Everyone will tell you that a good cover is a key to success and I couldn't agree more. I'll actually do a lot more on covers but today I want to focus on one thing in particular...series. If you are responsible for the covers (self-publishing) the cover is going to be your MOST important branding signal and if they are in a series you have to spend more time planning them out.
I'm going to pick on A.P. Stevens for just a minute. I bumped into him on facebook (which reminds me...please "like me on facebook" as I need to get to 25 likes to add a username (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-Sullivan/177995785609073). In any case he was speaking about his books and a promotion he did and I asked him for a link. here are A.P.'s first two books in his "White Wolf Series":
I gave A.P. a ton of advice about these covers, and I won't repeat it all here except to illustrate one particular point which is I would never think that these two book are book 1 and book 2 of a series.
Messing up the "in a series" branding is not limited to self-published titles. I publish, through Ridan, a great set of books by Leslie Ann Moore. Originally the first two books were published through a company called Avari Press. Here are their covers:
Again, I would never think these are the same two books. Even though the publisher used the same fonts for the titles and author's name the graphics are so different that I can't make any connection. Moreover, the first book looks like some kind of young adult book and the second looks like a Gothic vampire novel.
Now let's look at what Ridan did when we re-released this title.
Now these, not surprisingly are reflecting a single product brand. My litmus test on branding is that if a table was filled with 25 stacks of books could you tell which ones went together. I think people would pretty easily pick these out as "together". They would struggle a bit with the ones from Avari, but because both books start with Griffin and the fonts are the same they might eventually figure it out. In the case of AP's books. I'm not sure I could ever connect the two.
We'll be looking more at covers in future posts but for now these are the points I want you to walk away with:
- Your author branding is all about "you" - who you are, what you believe in
- Your product brand is separate and you need to present consistent visual cues to the brand
- If you have a series of books you have to apply additional care to make sure that your cover design can be coordinated across all the books.