Extreme Makeover for a New Generation
Procter & Gamble Co. acquired vernerable Old Spice in 1990 and has since transformed the small stagnating brand into a men's personal-care powerhouse. In the past 18 months, Old Spice has inched by Gillette's Right Guard to become the nation's leading deodorant and antiperspirant for men, with 20% of the $1 billion market. P&G worked to design a more modern take that would appeal to teenage boys, leveraging the original packaging’s reliance on the color red, pumping it up to a truer red for a more masculine, aggressive visual message. The designers transformed the logo to be a sleeker and less stodgy sloop, and added muscular, motion-infused typeface to present the product name.
Book Cover Makeover
How a rough-looking book turned into a great-looking and successful seriesMarty Clarke is a dynamic and humorous professional speaker whose “wickedly funny and painfully honest” keynote speeches on the topic of corporate communications draw large and enthusiastic audiences. As is typical with speaking professionals, Clarke wanted to write and publish a book to use as a marketing tool for promoting his speaking and coaching career.
He wrote the book, designed his own cover, and self-published Communication Land Mines: 18 Communication Catastrophes and How to Avoid Them, based on his years of experience communicating on both sides of the decision-maker's desk. Unfortunately, as is also typical of books designed by their authors – this one just didn’t hold up to the design standards of books in the genre.
Our story could end right there, with a great public speaker and his mediocre-looking book, but Marty is too savvy a businessman to settle for mediocrity. He decided to seek help in redesigning the book to a level he could be proud of, and made the necessary investment of time and money to achieve that goal. Here, in his own words, is Marty Clarke’s “book makeover” story…
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"The Biggest Lie in Bookselling”
In the beginning, I actually had no idea that the first edition of my book with the original cover was unappealing. I thought it looked great. I designed it myself. Plus, I subscribed to the idea that if the book itself was solid, if the content was compelling, than the cover didn’t matter.
That was before I learned that the biggest lie in bookselling is “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Actually, that isn’t a lie, it’s just inaccurate. What I learned was the truism of “You really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover but everyone does anyway so make sure your book cover rocks.”
But I didn’t realize that until someone laid out about six or eight books from my genre on a table and then put my book in there with them.
It was painfully obvious that mine looked like an amateur production and this reflected poorly on the content and the effort I put into it (see image above). It was an unpleasant but necessary experience.
It’s All About the Packaging
Think about it, as an author, all you have is concept, story, plot, teaching points, etc… all you have are intangible things. Your book is the physical embodiment of these ideas. It’s the packaging. If you dropped a great engine in a lousy looking car, nobody would buy it. So if you are proud of your work and want the world to read it, wrap it in as attractive a package as possible.
So, I decided to get a "book makeover." I found a company that had helped many other speakers with their books, the Jenkins Group in Traverse City, Michigan. Jerrold Jenkins and his team showed me samples of what they could do – and what my book could become.
Six months later we had a whole new look, with captivating cover art, new typeface, interior layout, and a rich, professional design that completely fit the content and feeling of my writing.
It’s been night and day. I started sending out the books with the new cover and the response was overwhelming. My goal was to get picked up by a major speakers bureau and it worked like a charm. I doubt they would have even cracked open the old book.
Let the Professionals Do Their Jobs
How does an author/expert avoid having to get a “makeover,” and go about getting a great book cover the first time? I can tell you my own personal stance on this: let the professionals do their jobs. In creating a great-looking book cover, you must resign yourself, as I did, to the fact that you probably don’t know too much about it, but you might be able to spot a great cover if you saw it.
And that’s what I did. I gathered the design teams (inside design/layout and cover design) and let them run. And let me tell you, I do love it when my ideas start to look better than even I imagined they could when they were in the hands of professional designers.
Jerry and the Jenkins Group team treated me with respect and best of all, patience. In the beginning, we all knew I had no idea of what I wanted for a redesign. The JGI approach was to show me about 12 – 15 different design ideas. That was fun. From the extremely conservative to the way, way out there, I had my choice of directions. I was able to narrow the selections down, one by one, borrowing elements from one to another, until we had the makings of a classy design. Then we just kept refining it until we had what we have today, which is a book I’m very proud to show off, hand out, and sell.
Though the process took a while, the JGI staff never made me feel bad about revisions or different looks. They were a pleasure to deal with and I also felt comfortable to be in the hands of a team that had done this before plenty of times.
Unexpected Benefits of a Great New Design
I received an unexpected bonus from my from my book design overhaul when I realized how it could carry over to the rest of my marketing materials. Since that time I’ve keyed the color schemes of my website and collateral materials to the design of my book. My book was always supposed to be the cornerstone of my speaking and consulting career, and ever since I got the cover redesigned, I’ve been able to use those design concepts everywhere. It’s made things easier for me in that regard. I like the fact that the book design is the ribbon of consistency through my materials. It shows that I’ve put some forethought into my work and this reflects very well on me and my work.
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Marty Clarke's books are Communication Land Mines: 18 Communication Catastrophes and How to Avoid Them, and the second book in the Land Mines series, Leadership Land Mines: 8 Management Catastrophes and How to Avoid Them, which focuses on the eight specific behaviors that cripple a manager's ability to emerge as a true leader. Visit his website at www.martyclarke.com.