Category Archives: Brand Publishing
I always like scouring the top 100 best-selling titles on amazon.co.uk on the first day of the New Year. All life is there. It’s the publishing equivalent of seeing the leaves fall from the trees as the seasons change. There are still some celebrity memoirs and humour books hanging around after their Christmas gifting peak. And the colouring books of course. But they have now been joined by a host of self-help, diet and detox titles, jostling for prominence after the excesses of the holidays.
It was hard to ignore the overriding sense from all authors attending the recent Bookseller Author Day conference of the desire for greater transparency, regardless of whether you are traditionally published or not. So it is in that spirit that I tell of a conversation this week with a writer whitefox has worked with over the past year, someone without an agent but with a finished manuscript, looking ideally for a traditional publishing partner. Through his own networking, he seems to have found someone potentially interested, a known publisher with many years of output. This publisher has offered him this proposal: they will publish his book, on the understanding that he contributes £9,000 towards the editorial process.
Alejandra Rodriguez Creixell was an intern at whitefox and a Publishing MA student at UCL. She is currently designing a booklet for Waterstones Gower Street and searching for a job in publishing or marketing. Here she shares some key findings from her MA research on publishers’ websites and their effectiveness.
Yesterday it was reported that Amazon was in the midst of R&D for one of its most radical projects to date. Seemingly expanding the footprint of the brand as far as it will go, the blueprints for the project were unearthed by GeekWire and would make the launch of Kindle, Prime and maybe even Amazon delivery drones pale in comparison. So what is this new top secret project?
Marketing has become personal. There have never been so many ways for brands to directly access their audiences. However, there have also never been so many ways for audiences to choose not to acknowledge marketing content. We can ‘skip’ adverts, mute the TV, or just plain ignore the plethora of blogs, videos, images and articles available. People are no longer passive spectators, they are choosing how and what media to interact with, and are exercising this power.
Brands are fighting for attention. This doesn’t just mean measuring the number of ‘eyeballs on content’. Now it’s about ‘likes’, ‘followers’, ‘subscribers’. It’s about being seen and seen again. Popularity drives distribution. To survive the crowded marketplace, a brand needs a loyal following that identifies with their brand image, and loves the content enough to want to share it with others. How do you attract the ever-wavering attention of an audience basking in the wealth of available content? Be consistent, and engage. Don’t let them forget you. Be their morning espresso.
It appears less about directly meeting consumer demands with goods; that comes later. Sometimes what a brand is selling is not even determinable in their content. What is evident is their ‘identity’, and this is what they are asking consumers to stake their share in. Consumers read, watch and listen to content that they identify with. They ‘subscribe’ when they no longer want to live without it, when it is part of how they see themselves and how they want to be seen by others. By following content, people are, in a sense, buying into a ‘way of life’, and perhaps (hoping for?) popularity by association. They are picking teams in the digital world. Essentially, when people share branded content, they’re building their online identity, and making a statement about who they are.
To be successful, content therefore needs to be easily accessible for it to take advantage of being shared. Take memes, infographics and videos; they are made to be spontaneously ‘clicked on’ and quick to digest. Branded content that lasts, like all enduring stories, needs a clear, consistent purpose and a relatable narrative arc that makes people care. It needs to offer the implicit hope of an improved way of life.
Successful brands stay close to their audiences, know what they like and dislike, and tailor content to the needs of each individual ‘follower’. One meaningful connection is stronger than many fleeting perusals. They prey on the predictability of human nature. If content connects deeply with just one person, who will then share it with their ‘friends’ and ‘followers’, it will be more effective than if the same number of people came across that same content without it being preceded by personal recommendation. It’s human nature; trust your friends.
Like all progress, we are testing the waters and experimenting with new realms of multi-media potential. At whitefox, we put the jigsaw together, embrace new digital possibilities, and in so doing, create personable identities through story. We ensure that content is too good to ignore. It’s not just seen, it’s seen again. People crave content that is as reliable as an old friend, but as exciting as a new lover, but there’s no need to choose between the two; we’ll still be surprising you long after the honeymoon period.
whitefox CEO John Bond describes the age of the specialist, where there is real value in exact knowledge and skill. In a world obsessed with peer review and a marketplace driven by innovation, the big winners will be those who aspire to be better than the rest. This article first appeared in the Publishers Weekly London Show Daily on April 16th 2013.