Emma Barnes taught herself to code after founding her own independent publisher, Snowbooks. She went on to build Bibliocloud, the next-generation publishing system. Now she’s on a mission to promote tech skills within the publishing industry and beyond.
What an exciting week! On Monday, Bibliocloud emerged from its start-up chrysalis to become Consonance. Along with this new name, chosen to reflect the harmony our software brings to publishing teams, we have a new website, new typography, new logo and new UI. And as part of our new style guide, we have a new colour palette inspired by some of our clients’ stunning books. We have left behind our old, over-literal, name, with its generic-to-the-point-of-meaningless “Biblio” and its rather early-2000s reference to “the Cloud”. We have a consistent, future-proof identity.
And so our eight months of imagining, design and implementation was finally revealed to the world – and it was exhilarating!
But was it exciting for anyone else? A publishing management software company rebranded. Who cares?
Brands in publishing have always had a bit of a hard time. However, the old aphorism that “no one cares about publisher brands unless it’s Penguin” has been challenged in recent years by companies who have revisited what being a publisher means.
There are publishers who increase the number of touch points with readers beyond books, such as through events, podcasts, journals, magazines, courses, film, alliances and outreach. What On Earth?, for instance, publish engaging, large format, fold-out books, and also run “cross-curricular enrichment workshops for schools, museums and literary festivals that promote the joy of learning”. Their customers know they are a company that provide both spectacular events and astonishing publications, and therefore become that most treasured of all things to a publisher: repeat buyers.
Then there are publishers who are part of a wider brand. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the Institute of Physics, RIBA, the British Library, and universities including Liverpool, UCL, Goldsmiths, Purdue, Sydney and more have in-house publishing divisions. These publishers are custodians and promoters of deeply-established brands, and have both an obligation and a platform to further the brand to students, academics and readers.
And then think of publishers who actually stand for something. It’s not a cute marketing line; it’s these people’s life’s work. Think Zed Books (“a platform for marginalised voices across the globe”), 404Ink (publishers “promoting underrepresented and silenced voices”), Unbound (who want to put control back in authors’ hands) and Trigger (the publishing arm of the Shaw Foundation mental health charity). The strength of belief pervades their work, and gives customers a wider mission to subscribe to – sometimes literally (because email marketing hasn’t gone away, post-GDPR).
Diverse these publishers may be, but they share one thing: a core, consistent message. Through more than their publication programme – through all their actions – they promote their “one big idea” at the heart of their businesses.
It’s this power of consistency, inspired by our customers, that is the reason for our rebrand. How much easier we are to deal with if current and prospective customers know that we stand for expertise, modernity and customer success, and if that message is on quiet repeat, throughout our literature, events, software UI, training, documentation, blog, writing, code quality, volunteering and every other thing we might decide to do over the next twenty years or so.
If you’re interested, you can read about how we achieved consistency through the power of Jungian archetypes. But suffice to say: our new branding is quiet, mature, polished and, critically, consistent across all our communications.
And that’s why people have, indeed, cared about our announcement. Those strongly-branded publishers I mentioned, earlier?They are all Consonance customers, and our aim is to make life a shade easier for them and all our customers, present and future, by radically improving the consistency of our message. Because the one big idea at the heart of our mission is to harmonise publishing businesses’ processes, so they sell more books with less effort. And harmony, of course, goes hand-in-hand with consistency.