How to Brand an Imprint

Publishing houses employ some of the most creative people around, and that creativity often extends further than just choosing the right books to publish. Marketers in publishing are challenging perceptions in a traditionally conservative industry by implementing targeted branding strategies. Branding is one of the most essential components to a marketing mix, and is usually recognized as an image or symbol companies use to differentiate themselves from other companies.

Brands today reach a lot further than just a symbol, and have a considerable impact on consumers. Brands are particularly important because they don’t only serve as a function to define a company selling a product—they also, more or less, serve as a tool the consumer uses to define themselves. Brands typically function to offer a lifestyle, and consumers who want to identify with that lifestyle will buy the brand. In publishing, the role of branding has not always been so clear, but publishers have recently made strides in creating brand identities for their imprints. When it comes to branding in publishing, there are a few key factors in creating a successful brand identity.

Design

Design is an especially lucrative aspect of branding in book publishing. It sets the tone and allows for an expectation from your readers. Publishers use design as a way to appeal to potential readers and to differentiate themselves from competitors. Consistency is a crucial component in the branding strategy in general, but in the design in particular. Consistent design in books, collateral, and marketing materials helps to establish an identity that readers will recognize and trust.

Voice

Voice is a considerable aspect in the branding mix, and it influences every other aspect of the brand. Branded voice comes from somewhere: the values or the mission of the publisher, a targeted approach to reaching a demographic, or even a real person. Any voice could be created, and voice can suit the publisher in any way they want. Voices can be fun, loud, serious, or professional. Like everything else in branding, the voice should be clear and consistent.

Engagement

Once a publisher finds their voice, they should use it to engage. One of the best ways to build a brand in publishing is through engagement. Today, social media allows for imprints to easily engage with their readership. For businesses large and small, social media is ubiquitous in marketing strategies, and publishers are using social media to show off their creativity. Publishers like Melville House use social media platforms like Twitter to engage with their readers, share information about their titles, and throw some occasional shade. The Riverhead Books engagement platform of choice is Instagram, where they share images of their beautifully designed books.

There are other considerations when it comes to branding, like creating merchandise or offering programs like writing workshops and contests. Publishers and marketers creating a unique branding strategy choose which components of the branding mix will best serve their respective imprints. Regardless of which aspects they implement, going forward with clarity and consistency will always be the most important asset in branding.

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