At Ooligan Press we publish about four new titles each year. Each book has a unique aesthetic which is consistent across all marketing, design, publicity, and social media collateral. In order to inform this aesthetic, our team puts together a “branding brief” for each book. This document serves as a way to inform how our marketing should look and feel.
Currently, our team just completed the branding brief for Keepers of Aris, our upcoming YA fantasy novel by Autumn Green. Keepers of Aris is about a young woman, Jay Raremore, who was born with immense and growing magical powers. At the time when our story takes place, Aris Magica, the secretive realm of magic that exists parallel to humanity, is in danger and Jay is the only one powerful enough to save both worlds.
Keepers of Aris touches upon themes such as grief, loss of innocence, and the struggle of battling with real-life and inner demons. Because the content of the story is more advanced, one of our goals is to make it clear in our marketing materials that this is a book that will appeal to an adult audience, as well as to young adult readers. To do this, we need to make it clear that Keepers of Aris, as far as young adult books go, leans more towards the adult end of the spectrum, rather than the middle grade end. Often middle grade novels include cartoonish or illustrated images on their covers or images with recognizable faces or silhouettes, which we have avoided using on the cover. For future marketing materials, we are avoiding bright or vibrant colors and using a darker color palette instead. On the other hand, we also want to avoid communicating that Keepers of Aris is too heavy or dark for a young audience. As a result, we are not going to focus on the violence or bloodshed in the story; this is not a significant focus of the novel, so we don’t want it to be a significant focus in our marketing.
Another consideration when branding Keepers of Aris is how to communicate what type of fantasy the book entails, or what subset of fantasy it falls into. Keepers of Aris can be considered low fantasy, meaning that the story takes place in a world that is otherwise normal, outside of the magical elements that our characters encounter. This is in contrast to high fantasy, in which the story takes place in an alternative world. Keepers of Aris takes place in the modern-day universe, so we want to steer away from an aesthetic that would communicate a medieval, ancient, or futuristic setting.
The plot of Keepers of Aris largely takes place at the Institute, a boarding school for teenagers with magical abilities. To communicate this, we are going to focus on images related to the aesthetic of “dark academia”. Dark academia is typically associated with a darker, moodier color palette and images of gothic architecture, vast libraries, school uniforms, and candlelit study sessions.
All of these things help communicate the tone of the book, which we described as being “serious, somber, dark, and mysterious”. Developing a cohesive brand for a book helps communicate to readers the core message and themes of a book, thereby connecting our book with our target audience.