Branding is often considered to be something of interest only to manufacturers of fast moving consumer goods (fmcg) or car companies and the like, but in the crowded market place of books it is of increasing importance.
Branding helps to create and reinforce an identity for a product which places it in the minds of the customer, thereby boosting sales.
With books the branding can include the book's style and/or genre, the quality of writing, the book cover, size, the title, typography, and the quality of the paper. It can also include the imprint, for example the distinctive Penguin brand, or the type of book the publisher is most renowned for publishing. In addition, it can include the author’s name and/or the names of the characters or main character.
How to define the brand starts with who or what you are offering, its uniqueness, who your customers are and what they want. When I started a small publishing company some years ago publishing business books, the brand was the Easy Step by Step Guides. These were written in a straightforward style, practical, with lots of tips, no jargon and plenty of bullet points (its uniqueness) for the time pressed business person (the customer) who wanted to know 'how to do it' simply and quickly (the offering).
The brand must live up to that; it must deliver on a promise.
In books, publishers and authors should consider the needs of their customers. They should examine the first introduction to the product (e.g. the book cover) does it set the book apart from the clutter? One book alone might not do this, but consistency across a series of books can.
The books should be packaged in a consistent, recognisable way: colour, image, typography.
What do the publisher and author want the customer to take away from the product? It could be the content of the book, the practical nature of the Easy Step by Step Guides for example, or the type of story. With regard to my marine mystery crime novels, readers identify with the setting, (against the backdrop of the sea), the genre (contemporary police procedural) the main character (Inspector Andy Horton, a hunky, maverick detective, a loner with a desperate longing to belong but always on the outside).
The brand is the foundation on which the marketing is built.
What reinforces the brand is the consistency of communication across all the marketing channels at all times.