Category: Branding

Successful book design

A recipe for successful book design

Nada Backovic is an award-winning book designer, graphic designer and illustrator with more than 20 years’ experience working with major publishers and self-publishers in Australia and the UK. Find out more about Nada and her work at

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Production Controller

Junior Designer [JOB POSTING]

Quintet Publishing, part of The Quarto Group, is looking for a Junior Designer to join our busy team based in Brighton.

The Quarto Group is the world’s leading independent publisher of illustrated books; our mission is to educate, entertain and enrich the lives of readers. Quintet creates non-fiction books across subject areas ranging from creative technology and activity, to travel and design. Our titles maintain the highest editorial, design and production standards, and we work with co-edition publishing partners worldwide.

We are looking to appoint a creative and proactive Junior Designer as part of our in-house team. The ideal candidate will be enthusiastic about illustrated publishing and possess excellent InDesign skills. Bursting with ideas, you’ll be keen to make your mark on our successful and diverse list.

Assisting the Art Director with the creation of 50 live books and 80 new presentations annually, a key part of the role is liaising with freelancers and working closely with the editorial team. This varied role could see you creating PDFs for a sales presentation in the morning, conceptualising a cover design by lunchtime and preparing print-ready files in the afternoon.

• Good organisation and time-management skills
• Strong interest in illustrated non-fiction publishing
• Meticulous attention to detail
• Excellent knowledge of InDesign, Acrobat and Photoshop is essential, Illustrator would be a benefit
• Creative and keen to learn

To apply for this position please send your CV and cover letter to:

(Deadline for applications: Friday 2nd February 2018)

The successful candidate must possess the right to work in the UK. Quarto Publishing plc. is committed to a policy of equal opportunity and treatment, ensuring an inclusive and diverse environment.

Getting on the brand wagon

When you decide to buy a product based on name rather than on price or other factors, when a product or company name becomes so familiar that it’s the first you think about and you know you needn’t look any further as the features, quality or customer service will justify any price difference, when you know that the name alone guarantees great value for money and no-frills functionality, these are examples of successful branding at work.

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Brand: A key tool in your marketing strategy

Whatever the format or platform you use, every time your business communicates, you have an opportunity to strengthen your brand. Each communication is also an opportunity to further your strategic marketing objectives.

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Brand building for publishers: It may not be what you think

Publishers spend a lot of time talking about building their brands, but most of us know in our heart of hearts that – for most of the readers most of the time – our brands are pretty much irrelevant. Some have nailed it – Penguin, Oxford, Nature, Rough Guides, Wiley’s Dummies Guides – but they’re the exceptions that prove the rule.

For the most part, the real brand in book publishing is the author. Which is a potential problem for publishers, as it leaves them vulnerable to disintermediation.

This week in The Extraordinary Business Book Club I talk to Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting. Brand is central to who Alan is and what he does, and he offered two succinct definitions:

1) Brand is a uniform expression of value (as he put it, ‘Nobody goes into McDonald’s to browse, they know exactly what they’ll find in there.’)

2) Brand is how people think about you when you’re not there.

The first is where publishers have traditionally focused their brand-building efforts. They have positioned themselves as gatekeepers, curators, a guarantee of quality in a sea of indifferent (or worse) content. Nothing wrong with that. But does it go far enough?

I think that second definition is a great challenge for publishers. It carries a couple of implicit questions. Firstly, ARE people thinking about you when you’re not there? (For most of us, the answer is, not much, probably.) Secondly, WHO are the ‘people’ we’re talking about here? Publishers need their brand to have value for two (usually very different) groups: authors and readers.  And thirdly, WHAT is it they’re thinking about, exactly – your company, or your products?

Alan was clear that for him, the ultimate brand is simply his name. He wants CEOs to yell ‘Get me Alan Weiss!’ But he adds, ‘Beneath that, covered by that umbrella, you can have a multitude of brands.’

One is the ‘Million Dollar’ moniker itself, which now features not only in other books such as Million Dollar Maverick but across a whole suite of products and services including an annual convention, a regular newsletter, an online community and a training college. Daniel Priestly did something similar with Key Person of Influence, which has become a franchised business accelerator programme.  When you’re thinking of titles, it never hurts to use one with the potential for this kind of immediate recognition, something distinctive and resonant, with the ability to flex and extend beyond the book itself.

But one of the reasons that Alan knows his name is his strongest brand is that it’s the one to which people can connect most readily on an emotional level. Alan uses this very consciously, featuring his beloved dogs – Buddy and Bentley – in his videos (he even offers credit cards named after them), and often posing in front of his equally beloved flashy cars:

People expect a certain lifestyle from me. I don’t just tell people to create a business and to market better, and to write books and so forth. I help people to understand how to live, and so people are interested in my lifestyle. They’re interested in exotic cars, they’re interested in my travels, they’re interested in how I choose to live. I happen to love dogs… The more you involve your passion in your business, the better you are at it, it’s as simple as that.’

It’s hard for a business any business not just a publisher to achieve that level of emotional engagement. Certainly Summit Consulting Group as a brand doesn’t have the same cachet as Alan Weiss own name.

But here’s the interesting thing: Summit Consulting Group leverages the power of the Alan Weiss brand. The company fulfills the first of Alan’s definitions of brand – the uniform expression of value – and it’s reinforced and magnified by the more emotional connection inherent in Alan’s second definition: how people think about you when you’re not there. Clients know that when they work with the company, they’re getting something of the rock-star thrill of working with the man himself even if they never actually speak to him.

As publishers we can and should build our brands – at company, series, title level – and deliver consistently on the promise that each implies, but at the end of the day how we work to build our authors’ brands reflects back on us more powerfully than any marketing copy we can put out there. Quite simply when they succeed, we succeed.

membership economyAlison Jones (@bookstothesky) is a publishing partner for businesses and organizations writing world-changing books. She also provides executive coaching, consultancy and training services to publishers.

Marketing vs Design: Photo/Twitter blog

If you work in book marketing, your focus is on running campaigns to sell more books. If you are a designer you know that no one will read a blurb, or download a sample without eye-catching covers and advertising material. So which matters more?

BookMachine teamed up with emc design for our event on Wednesday to pose this very question. Kate Roden (publishing, marketing and content strategist, and co-founder of design consultancy Fixabook), Matt Haslum (Marketing Director at Faber & Faber) and Mark Ecob (Creative Director of cover design company Mecob Design) took to the stage to battle it out. Here’s a photo/twitter blog to sum up the night.


Series redesign: Building on a Quite Interesting brand

Like the various stakeholders in a brand, designers are custodians. We’re tasked with giving it the right face, and every so often giving it a facelift.

The same natural cycle to rebranding any product applies to books. A brand look can get tired over time, sales plateau, writers can go in different directions to reach new audiences. When us designers get the call with the word ‘backlist’ in it, our eyes light up – it’s a chance to do an integrated body of work that you can be proud of.

In January 2015, I repackaged the QI paperbacks for Faber & Faber, and blogged about them. It worked so well they asked me to package their new royal hardback, The Third QI Book of General Ignorance:


To establish a new hardback look that nodded to the paperbacks, I kept the circles reminiscent of the TV sets and broke the images out. We see a T-Rex striding out of the central circle, the Rio Jesus presiding over all whilst Sherlock Holmes investigates the murder committed by a hungry robin beyond. Braver colour around the package rather than a single tone sets the whole thing off nicely. It moved the look on just enough to give the hardback something new, whilst referencing what had gone before.

Following that, Faber swiftly looked at repackaging their Facts series: 1,339 QI Facts To Make Your Jaw Drop, 1,227 QI Facts To Blow Your Socks Off and 1,411 QI Facts To Knock You Sideways. Would I do it? Of course. But how would I make it different, again?

The brief was simple:

  • Bring in the colour and joy of the new General Ignorance hardback
  • Give the FACTS books an identity of their own
  • Type led, confident, punchy, grown up
  • Simple and graphic, the small format (104 x 170 ) meant nothing too complicated.

Initially, I played with the circles, taking parts of the hardback and paperback looks forward with large, strong type which was intended to be foiled. Perhaps big type was good enough to take it on just far enough:


As always, I threw in quite a few ideas to see if anything would cross over. Some large, simple type experiments seemed appropriate, leading with the all-important logo and perhaps metallic ink for the backgrounds:


Echoing the type style of the B format paperbacks, I looked at using the magnifying glass as device for figures to peek through. It had an intelligent cheek about it which I felt was quite in-keeping with QI at large.


The first route was liked the most, we experimented with colour and layout variations, all around the structure of the circles, even discussing finishes. It was going swimmingly, but something wasn’t quite right.

Donna Payne, Creative Director at Faber and Faber, summarised the feeling between QI and Faber beautifully. Essentially, they felt the covers lacked the punch and confidence of a standalone series. Time was marching on, we were late for the May 2016 print deadline, and the sales force had nothing.

I turned off my email, cleared the decks and spent next the day rendering a single rough which I hoped would knock it out of the park. I started with a blank document, placed the logo slap-bang in the middle and built a new cover look around it. By losing my beloved circles, I had to link it some other way, so I chose trusty old Clarendon to lead a typographic look, centred around the logo. It read as part of the title – in itself a differentiating factor. I chose bright colours for the backgrounds and then started to bring in objects based on the books facts to integrate with the typography – comets passing through, monkeys hanging off and cute little hedgehogs getting shot (yes, I get paid for doing this). After putting the finishing touches to just a single rough, I sent it off and kept everything crossed.

After a couple of days agonising wait, we heard back that QI loved the new look. A home run indeed. It was full steam ahead on the rest of the covers, so I jumped on it. Ten days later, after some minor image issues (each had to be justified by a fact within the book), ably handled by Faber Studio Manager, Paddy Fox, we had three approved covers ready for press:


Here’s what QI thought:

‘These are all absolutely MARVELLOUS! I mean, really exceptionally good fun and truly enticing. A real cut above, no question.’ John Lloyd

‘Im trembling with excitement, love and every type of happiness. Its our best cover ever.’ John Mitchinson

And Donna Payne on the secret to branding a series like QI:

“Choose an intelligent designer and arm them with a thorough understanding of the brand and the ambition you have for it. Give them the creative freedom to do it justice, while keeping a dialogue going along the way.”

In book cover design, there aren’t brand guardians or teams of design Oompa-loompas who spend months creating a handbook for you to design by. It’s often crashed into a publishing schedule, and changes as you go. The single thing that made this rebrand work, was everybody being open and working together. We discussed ideas, experimented and listened to each other until a strong look came out of the design mist.

Top rebranding tips

Here are some other things that might help if you have a cover rebrand on the horizon:

  • Assess whats gone before, find the core identifiers that the audience respond to.
  • At the outset, throw mud at the wall. Include your rejects alongside your lead ideas, you never know what might come out of it.
  • Be receptive and listen, put yourself in the clients shoes. Read and re-read emails, speak to them direct.
  • Fresh eyes – leave a problem overnight if you can, and come back to it (preferably holding a cup of tea and listening to Miles Davis).
  • Get your sources right, with varied content you have to be diligent with image rights.
  • Front-load the work, start early and make the best of the time you have – you’ll need it later on.

Mark EcobMark Ecob is Creative Director of cover design company Mecob Design Ltd, and Associate Art Director at Unbound. After working at Hodder & Stoughton, The Orion Publishing Group and as Art Director for Canongate Books, he set up Mecob and now packages books for everyone from Amazon to your mum. His work has been awarded and exhibited, he teaches young creatives and lectures older ones. If you want a book designed, he’s your man.

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The power of colour for your brand


Webinar date | June 25, 3:00 pm BST

Join Rebecca Swift and Laurie Pressman as they take a look into the psychology of color choice and see how you can use that information to select the right imagery.

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Self-employed in publishing

WYSIWYG: The growing importance of visual branding

Having a recognizable iconography associated with a brand has always been a crucial marketing techniques to draw in consumers. Yet, in a world where we are bombarded by an increasing number of advertisements every day, standing out and having a consistent visual brand is becoming harder, and more important, than ever before.

The stats: how much do we really see?

Every second, our senses receive over 11 million pieces of information from our skin, eyes, ears, sense of smell and sense of taste. Of these, the average person can handle a maximum of 40-50 pieces in their working memory, which means that we ignore 10,999,950 bits of data every single second we are awake. The job of a visual brand is to be interesting and engaging enough to become part of the 40-50 pieces of information committed to memory, and then draw the consumer towards its products.

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Two more Terry Pratchett novels set for posthumous publication

When Terry Pratchett died last week at the age of 66, he left behind a body of work that includes 40 novels set in his beloved Discworld, alongside a couple dozen further titles. It is a substantial bibliography by any standard, and one that his fans will no doubt take great comfort and pleasure in revisiting over the coming months. Those fans, however, can take further solace in the knowledge that the day when they have no more Pratchett left to read hasn’t arrived just yet: the author completed two final novels that are both likely to see publication this year.

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