Firstly, what is branding?
It's one of those typical millennial buzzwords, that's seen a lot of mainstream hype and attention over the past couple of decades. While it's not unusual for technical words to see public attention from time to time, like "quantum", "nuclear" and "SEO", very few of them have seen their way into the casual dialogues of the masses as the word "branding" has. And there is a good reason for that: branding can be applied to the individual just as much as it can be applied to a product, movement, group or service. It is a word that can be used to refer to a dimension that everything shares. Kind of like discussing somebody's walk. While the word itself may be the result of a technical profession, its use case is universal.
Branding is the way something presents itself. The look and feel emanated within the first 7 seconds. You know how they say you shouldn't judge a book by its cover? Well, the reason they say that, is because people do exactly that. All the time! And it's nice to day-dream, head in the clouds about how the world should be, and how people ought to behave. But you know what's nicer? Succeeding in the real world. And in the real world, people take no more than 7 seconds to form an opinion on just about anything new they encounter. That's how much your cover has to work with, to try and impress a potential buyer. Choose to ignore this fact at your own risk.
But then the next big question is: where do you brand out to?
While everybody can unanimously agree on the plainness of a white piece of paper, opinions start to divide as soon as you throw just a dash of colour on the paper. From the colour chosen, to the way you place it and medium used, you will already have people liking or disliking it. The more colour and shapes you add, the more people decide they dislike it, while the ones that remain, like it even more. And you keep sacrificing mass appeal for niche love. Somewhere down that line, your piece of paper will become something so interesting, that some people will downright hate it, but others will absolutely love it and both of them will start talking to their friends about it.
Go too far, however, and you're left with a small "cult" following. But don't go far enough, and you'll end up with a mediocre brand that upsets nobody and impresses just as many people, dragging your words of wisdom down the isles to the discounted box.
As such, it is vital to identify your target audience, and brand accordingly. You wouldn't go to a wedding in trainers, nor would you go for a jog in a four-piece suit. Dressing for the road ahead is important.
Answer the question: "Who are you targeting?"
If your answer is "everybody", then congratulations! You have given the same answer every client I ever had, has. It's understandable, but unrealistic. Like I specified earlier, by getting some people, we lose others. So, we need to clearly define the people we want to "get". Try defining gender, age group, culture, profession, ethnicity, social background etc. If this feels discriminatory, it's not. We are not barring out the people who do not fit in this target audience, and naturally, there will be outliers. But we need to define the target audience, as no matter how idealistic we are, a 47-year-old mother, isn't going to be interested in the same things a 20-year-old boy is. At least, not most of the times.
Once you found the answer to that question, we can go find a graphic designer to help us with our book cover, and any future promotional materials we may require.
More on that next time!