Special Report: The Brand's the Thing
2. O'Reilly Media extends trust to their readers in the hope that they'll be trusted in return. "The fact that we're DRM-free helps show that we're forward-thinking and that we trust our customers," says Wikert. Offering DRM-free books with free updates for life has not only built the brand, it has provided a huge marketing advantage.
Branding for General Interest Publishers
Though proud of O'Reilly's strong brand at the company level, Wikert allows that company-level, niche-specific branding may not be the most effective place for everyone to throw their branding efforts. "Right now the only brands that seem to matter in [general] publishing are the author and the series. The publisher is generally unknown, same for the imprint. It's similar to the movies where you may have loved that Lincoln flick but you have no idea which studio produced it."
Wikert asks in his Dec. 10 post to the Tools of Change blog, "Who goes into a store looking for the latest book from Penguin or Random House? Nobody." While this may be an overstatement—Penguin is perhaps the most recognized brand of the Big 6)—it's one not meant as a slight against Penguin or Random House, merely an observation of structure. Think of it this way: No one walks into a convenience store looking for a Unilever product—they walk in looking for the Unilever-owned brand Ben & Jerry's. Similarly, a person may not sit down to their browser to search for a Wiley product, but they do, however, seek out a book from Wiley's For Dummies series.
General interest publishers may publish books for a wide range of niches. Within those niches, the publishers may have several series of books. The brands promoted by that publisher may be niche-specific—as in the case of sci-fi imprint Tor—or series specific—as with For Dummies.
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