Why Book Publishers Need a Corporate Image

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1106 Design

September 02, 2011

What is a “Corporate Image” and Why Does It Matter?

A professionally-designed book cover is absolutely essential when it comes to marketing your book. If your book looks good and stands out from the crowd, it has a better chance to sell.

The exact same principle also applies when prospective buyers are viewing the marketing materials of your publishing company. It’s imperative to cut through the clutter, establish credibility, and help busy buyers pay attention to your sales message.

A “corporate image” is a graphic “plan” that  begins with a professional logo and carries on with consistent use of type fonts, colors, even the arrangement of elements on the page, that will identify your publishing company to the prospective buyer before they have a chance to read one word. For an example of this, notice your own response to printed materials, and how you instantly recognize that a flyer or insert is from a particular store, without the need to actually see the store’s logo.

The same principle can be employed to your benefit as a publisher. It doesn’t matter if you publish one book or a hundred, buyers will likely see your marketing message more than once before they buy. They want to do business with a company that will be there tomorrow. Since they can’t meet you personally, the only way they can judge the reliability of your company is from your marketing materials.

Every contact you make with a potential buyer sends a message about your publishing company, whether it is a postcard, bookmark, sell sheet, book signing announcement, letter, or website. If  all of your materials are designed with a “family look,” you can maximize recognition of your company and communicate to your prospective buyer that you are a stable, reliable source for the information they seek. Plopping a professionally designed cover on a homemade flyer sends the opposite message.

Corporate Image Step One: A Professional Logo

The first step to a professional corporate identity is to design a logo that reflects the vision and purpose of your publishing company. The best logos are simple and should be designed to look contemporary for a minimum of 10 years. Your designer will present a number of ideas and refine them until you are delighted with the result.

A logo isn’t just a design for one purpose today, but also for many purposes in the future, so there are some considerations to discuss with your logo designer as work proceeds. A logo should be designed to look good in black and white first, because that’s how it will often be seen (on faxes and invoices, for example). Color enhances, but is never a substitute for, strong design.  If your logo doesn’t work in black and white, it simply doesn’t work. A strong logo design can be printed in black and white or one color, saving you money on printing down the road.

Logos should also be designed so that they can be used anywhere: on a book spine, on a billboard, on a banner, even engraved in metal for an office sign. Once the basic logo design is established, publishers generally need two or more versions of a logo — a vertical logo for book spines, and a horizontal version for brochures and correspondence.

If you’re tempted to acquire a logo on the cheap from a contest site or $99 logo design sites, be careful. Many customers have presented such logos to us, only to be disappointed when we tell them that the type is unreadable on a book spine, or that the logo has been created in a format that is not easily adjustable for other purposes.

Corporate Image Step Two: Written Graphic Standards

Step two in the establishment of a professional corporate identity is to write down design standards so that all of your marketing materials will have a consistent look. These standards define the size and position of your logo, as well as type faces and colors to be used consistently, so that your marketing materials won’t drift into uncharted territory every time a new item is designed. Your designer can write a graphic standards manual that explains how your logo is (and is not) to be used. With this document for reference, every marketing piece you produce now or in the future, either in house or with the help of an outside designer, will be consistent.

How Can I Minimize Costs While Projecting a Consistent Corporate Image?

A professional corporate identity consistently applied needn’t be expensive. While it’s convenient to call a quick printer every time you think of a new marketing piece, planning ahead can save you significant money on printing. Designers can suggest ways to stretch your printing budget that will still allow you the flexibility to update materials on your desktop whenever the need arises.

For example, if you know you’ll be sending out mailers every two months for the next year, you can realize savings by printing “shells” in color and then updating the message in house on your laser printer.

Another way to save money on printing is to produce bookmarks and postcards at the same time that your book cover prints. Not all book printers will do this, but even if they don’t, you can get the most for your printing dollar locally by “ganging up” your printing jobs instead of ordering each project individually.

Someone once said “the most expensive brochure is the one that doesn’t work.” Reserving a portion of your production budget for a professional logo and designed marketing materials will pay for itself many times over.

Follow Michele on Twitter.

1106 Design works with authors, publishers, business pros, coaches, consultants, speakers . . . anyone who wants a beautiful book, meticulously prepared to industry standards. Top-quality cover design, beautifully designed and typeset interiors, manuscript editing, indexing, title consulting, and expert advice. All available from one convenient source. All offered with our most important service, hand-holding. Attractive pricing choices to fit almost any budget. Prompt, personalized service. Satisfaction guaranteed. We’ll take better care of you and your book than any “self-publishing company.” How may we help you? Post your comment here or email us using the Contact Us page.

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