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Less is more but more can be less

January 7, 2011

Penguin - legacy brand with simple values. Less is more.

Seth Godin’s blog today about juggling says how juggling would be boring if there was never an expectation or a worry that something might go wrong. Perfection, therefore, comes from practice and, as the old saying goes, practice makes perfect.

But, with perfection comes complacency and with complacency comes decline. So it is with many companies in the publishing industry – and in particular with publishers who negate brand strategy, happy to sit back on what they have achieved by pure will power. Unable to respond to the market they invaded and now reside in, seeking relevance.

In brand management, the more pure the brand, the more likely brand recall. To use the old adage, less is more. But the “more” depends on what the “more” is. A brand of substance has much behind it so that it is possible to distil into core values. Usually brands such as these are legacy brands of quality. But not necessarily so – just look at how Apple promotes itself.

But copywriters will always tell you that you should only stop writing when you have nothing more to say. In other words, long copy is preferable to short copy.

Horses for courses I suppose. But what is clear is that customers can spot junk brands anywhere. Dodgy logos, poor typography, unsubstantiated claims, shoddy product delivery, lamentable customer service.

For publishers, less can be more. Like Wiley’s Dummies series, or Penguin’s classic orange and white paperbacks, or Dorling Kindersley’s illustrated tomes. But for many publishers, more can be less.

I’m not going to name and shame but publishers should look at their portfolio and if there is no brand consistency which is easy to understand, is it any wonder that customer loyalty, higher revenues and stronger profits elude them?

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