A section of Amazon book pages has been catching my eye lately. Authors and publishers have recently been getting creative with the “From the Publisher” section—taking advantage of the space to post some beautifully designed blurbs and headlines.
When I first noticed it, I immediately thought about how similarly designed blurbs would look in a social media campaign, or how elements from the designs could cohere a book’s tipsheets, press release, and other materials. As it happens, other managers at Ooligan had been thinking similarly.
At Ooligan, everyone is a designer, editor, proofreader, marketer, and publicity specialist. So, our efforts, while always noble, are not always cohesive and streamlined. Some book project teams have had beautifully designed social media campaigns (Short, Vigorous Roots and Court of Venom
are recent examples), others have had lovely designed tipsheets, press releases, and other marketing and publicity materials. But it varies, depending on the design interest and experience of each team. How can the design department support all project teams and cohere their design efforts?
A book branding design guide! Each book project team could use a design guide to help make each title’s marketing and publicity efforts easily recognizable, to help define and convey each book’s voice, and to help designers learn to work with design principles and implement brand guidelines—useful skills to have beyond our time at Ooligan.
I have worked with brand guides before in other organizations, dutifully following the guidelines for typography, color, logos, and aspect ratios. But I had never built one and wasn’t sure where to begin. Book marketing is about making people aware of the books they want to read but don’t yet know exist. Who wants to know about this particular book, and what do they need to know about it? And, how do we best speak to them? What is the distilled essence of this book? What makes it special? How can we convey that visually?
I turned to Adobe for help getting started, modifying their advice to better fit with our specific mission. The following elements form the new basic book branding brief for each title.
I began by creating a color palette based on the book cover’s background color, plus a lighter and darker version, adding secondary colors that matched the tone of the book, hoping to keep our cohesiveness from becoming stale and to offer designers a little flexibility. I found through trial and error that an exact match to the cover materials is not as important as conveying the right mood, and made slight modifications to the color swatches used in the covers, including each color’s HEX values for consistency.
Selecting type was more complicated. At Ooligan, we use Adobe Creative Suite programs to design our books, along with the fonts Adobe provides us license for. But most designers in the press don’t have their own full-time access to the software, and many prefer to use Canva. Fortunately, Canva has loads of fonts available for free, and so we were able to choose some similar to what the book designers had used, selecting fonts for headlines and body text that complemented each other and matched the aesthetic of the book cover and content.
We often go to Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels for images. Sometimes our books will have some of their own graphic elements to incorporate into our marketing and publicity campaigns. Canva also has quite a few little graphic elements available for free use. We put together a document with some photographs, png files, and Canva graphics for designers to use when creating their posts and documents.
The project managers can use the above elements to make templates in Canva for their team to use for the various social media dimension requirements, as well as blurbs and quotes for them to feature or incorporate into their designs. These design elements can also be used later in creating other marketing and publicly collateral.
Ooligan is a teaching press, and we are all learning every day. I see this new design process as an iterative one; we are already constantly adjusting what works and what doesn’t, and will do so with each new title. The team for The Keepers of Aris by Autumn Green, our next title to be published, has been busy designing away in preparation for their upcoming social media campaign and book launch. I look forward to seeing their designs!