Twisting Book Trailers to Boost Any Business

Book trailers bring big business. These video spots don’t stand out for their star-power alone, but for their formal inventiveness and willingness to take risks as well. In this guest post, Liam Powel shows how your business can take what publishing houses are doing to market their authors and products and apply those same ideas to your business for big marketing and brand-building benefits through video trailers.

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LITTLE FAILURE’S BIG SUCCESS. 

If you’re not up on literature, you may not have heard of Gary Shteyngart, but odds are you will soon.  The quirky satirist – whose novel Super Sad True Love Story garnered him a spot on the New Yorker’s “20 Under 40” list two years ago – is known for his biting wit, bumbling characters, and stunning backdrops. Little Failure, a memoir released early in January, 2014 by Random House, has already garnered glowing reviews, and if history is any guide, sales are radiant as well.

To hype the title, Random House released a “book trailer” – if you’re not familiar with the form, it’s exactly what it sounds like – and Shteyngart’s are grade-A satire. Little Failure has already made a splash because of its star-studded cast, featuring James Franco, Rashida Jones, Alex Karpovsky, and of course, Shteyngart too. Random House, no stranger to the medium or its capacity to push publicity, had previously released a similar trailer for Super Sad – it’s just as hilarious, and can be seen here.

However, these video spots don’t stand out for their star-power alone, which any hefty budget could use to garner attention, but for their formal inventiveness and willingness to take risks as well. This is what we’re interested in. Let’s look at a few lessons from the art of the book trailer that you can apply to your brand and business.

DON’T BE AFRAID TO BREAK NEW GROUND. 

The vast majority of book trailers are fairly one-dimensional, composed of excerpts from a work read over a series of simple images or videos. Few build a narrative, and among the small number that do, fewer still are as cunning or generally well-composed as those for Little Failure or Super Sad.

So aside from it seeming strange, or stunt-ish, for a piece of literary non-fiction to engage potential consumers through such an infrequently, and often ill-used media form, Shteyngart’s piece distinguishes itself for its wryly inventive quality. Particularly when compared to other book trailers, Little Failure’s comes off as sketch comedy, worrying less about clearly pushing the product (the memoir itself) and more about conveying core value propositions in an engagingly slant, indirect way.

So what if you won’t be able to hire out a Hollywood star to shill your brand anytime soon?  This release, Worst Case Scenario Survival Video Series: BREAKUPS, couldn’t either, nor could this Skagboys video, but each crafted compelling content – well within their means – and made efficient, inventive use of a quirky medium to engage their audiences, new and old. The latter trailer, for Skagboys, is particularly on point, a wonderfully executed example of consistent brand identity – note how the skeleton from the video is modeled after the novel’s cover image, and how the whole tone is very much in line with Irvine Welsh’s writing – that only required a Final Cut video editing program and some papier mâché to get up and running.

Sometimes, especially if you’re a solopreneur, all it takes is going the extra mile, even if you have to run it alone.

SO YOU DON’T RUN A PUBLISHING HOUSE? 

Whatever industry your brand is competing in, don’t be afraid to go beyond convention when reaching out to potential consumers. Brands, particularly emerging ones, too often fear venturing beyond a simple benefit analysis or overt calls-to-action while representing themselves – from taglines and logos to small collateral. Slant approaches aren’t only for the industry bigwigs: they can be for everyone, if you’re willing to take the risk.

Successful trailers use inventive, thoughtful approaches to innovating an established medium.  They convey how their product functions, who uses it, and where it’s used to inform and entertain.

What if a video, or a trailer, isn’t right for you? The point is to reach out to your consumers in engaging, surprising, direct ways – trailer or no trailer. Here are a few tips and lessons we can take away from Random House’s – and other’s – use of an innovative form.

  1. Ask yourself: is there a particular aspect of your brand – logo, tone, media presence – you think could benefit from an overhaul or re-imagining? If so, isolate it and take a moment to ask yourself how it could be better and what could be gained by crossing a line of convention here or there.
  2. Think lateral.  Make a list of potential media you’d like to engage in that you haven’t already. Is it video? A social platform? If media isn’t at the forefront of your concerns, what elements of design, or tones of voice, would be exciting and new for you to experiment with?
  3. Spend the time to develop a high concept, and stick with it. Measure twice, cut once.
  4. Think lifestyle and/or novel, layered tones. Slant, or indirect, approaches to brand development aren’t just for established presences in the market – emerging brands can use them too.
  5. Always assume the most of your consumer, and expect the most from your brand.

About the author: 

Liam Powell is Lead Copywriter at Imagemme, a Brand Innovation Lab based in TriBeCa, NYC. He recently received a Masters from Columbia University, where he would catch the occasional glimpse of the man himself – Gary Shteyngart – walking the long, marble halls. You can connect with Liam on Facebook, and on Twitter he is @YazooStScandal (from the Dylan song).

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Twisting, Moving and Shaking Your Brand

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Imagine what would happen if you really dove in and started to twist and shake up your brand and business? That’s what visionary entrepreneurs like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Gary Vaynerchuk do. Listen to the “OnBranding by BRANDFEVER” podcast with conversation about the far-reaching power of a strong brand and ways you can dive in and add a little twist to strengthen your brand’s reach.

Listen to the interview at BRANDFEVER, HERE.

If you have not tuned into OnBranding’s interview series, you are missing out on an amazing resource. These are high quality, in-depth audio and video interviews with top industry leaders, businesses and entrepreneurs about branding and marketing.

During this rich, one-hour podcast we covered how I became interested in branding, lessons I learned from Richard Branson during my history as VP of Brand at Virgin, how I became an entrepreneur and developed BrandTwist and Brand School Master Class, but most importantly – we dive deep and give insight that can really help you grow your brand and business right now, like: the difference between marketing, advertising and branding; what’s important in branding today; tips on how to relate your story and social media; ways that brands can stay fresh and how entrepreneurs and business owners can generate new solutions to their business challenges and reach more customers.

Some takeaways:

  • Make sure there is an audience for your idea.
  • Rather than focusing on  innovation, focus on usefulness.
  • Put your consumer at the heart of your ideation. What do your customers need?
  • Ask your market what is wrong with today? What’s missing? What do you enjoy in other industries? What are you tired of?
  • Know your brand promise for leadership positioning and an edge-up over the competition.

Listen to the interview at BRANDFEVER, HERE.

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Essential Branding Lessons with Jennifer Love & Julie Cottineau

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Your branding questions answered!

I recently was interviewed by Jennifer Love, Founder of JenniferLove.com and Co-founder & CEO of NibMor, the yummy and successful organic chocolate brand, for her weekly video series on business building. If you are serious about your brand this is a session you won’t want to miss. You can watch the video chockfull of tips HERE. Read below to learn how knowing your brand well can help sky rocket your business.

As a followup to the video Jennifer and I answered branding questions in a Twitter chat, using the hashtag #Branding101. It was great fun connecting with Jennifer and the Twitterverse.  If you haven’t already connected with us on Twitter, please stop by for a little brand talk at @JCottin. You can connect with Jennifer Love at @JLoveBiz.

Here are some excerpts from our chat , we covered everything from the right time to start thinking about your brand to how to take a page from Richard Branson and rock your personal brand…and most importantly how great brands WALK THE TALK.

@JLoveBiz – Welcome! To get started today >> @JCottin Many have asked: How & where do I start developing the right #brand for my #business?

@JCottin – Start TODAY. If you are re-building your #brand or #business, start defining your brand promise right now.

@JLoveBiz – @JCottin YES!!! Great tip. Start today, start where you are. Also, know who your consumer is and get intimate with them.

@JCottin – Your #brand’s promise will be a decision-making filter, to help attract the right investors, employees & #customers.

@JLoveBiz – Entrepreneurs want to know: What mistakes are made when starting a #business & developing a #brand?

@bevisible – RT @JCottin #1 mistake #entrepreneurs make is not enough time & energy really defining their #brand.

@JCottin – If you spend enough time upfront building & understanding your #brand well it will help the rest run smoother.

@JCottin – Small businesses should add more personal story into their  #brands. That’s why people choose small. They want authenticity.

@JLoveBiz – “Rather than saying you’re a different kind of company. Prove it through every single touch point.” – @JCottin

@JCottin – Definitely @JLoveBiz brands are relationships and you need to know what your consumer needs, what keeps them up at night?

@JCottin – Your loyal consumers are your best brand ambassadors. Nurture those relationships above all else!

@JCottiin – It’s not enough to tell consumers what your product does, bring your #brand promise to life via actions and experiences.

@JLoveBiz – I’m often asked: What can building a #brand do for my #business?

@JCottin – A strong #brand gets people to ask for you by name, minimizes other choices, and attracts the best employees.

@JCottin – A strong #brand helps people get what you offer right away. Helps them see your difference and why they should buy.

@JLoveBiz – @JCottin great point. Standing out from competition is so important & a way to do that is by delivering a great experience.

@JCottin – A strong #brand allows you to charge premium price for your and keeps you from having to get trial by discounting.

@JLoveBiz – A frequent question @JCottin is: How does a personal #brand differ from a #business brand; do I need both?

@JCottin – A personal #brand’s how you tell your own story, what makes you unique and it supports your #business brand.

@JCottin – The more memorable your personal #brand is, the more memorable your #business may become, too. Definitely need both.

@JCottin – #RichardBranson’s personal brand of having fun and challenging the status quo supports the #Virgin promise to shake things up.

@JCottin – #Personal brand matters:  you will have many #jobs over time  but you will always be you. Need to cultivate it.

@JCottin – A strong personal #brand adds credibility to a #business & helps in repairing glitches.We all mess up, even @richardbranson.

JCottin – Be careful. Your #personal brand is not you – warts and all. It need to be authentic but also managed.

@JCottin – Yes! @JLoveBiz the experience you deliver IS your brand.

@bevisible – Like this: The experience you deliver IS your brand. Think we try to reinvent when our strength is what we’ve been doing.

@JCottin – Your #brand is your #business. It’s an entrepreneur’s secret weapon!

@JCottin – Brand = more than logo, website or colors – it’s a reliable promise you deliver that customers can count on.

@JCottin – #Branding for small biz is the same for big biz, but smaller biz need to be smarter with resources. Use their brand everywhere.

@JCottin – Great #brands big or small solve problems. They are useful and help people get more done and feel better doing it.

@JCottin – Great #brands are stories well told. We want to read them over and over and they become best sellers.

@JCottin – Great #brands WALK the TALK!

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All Your Burning Brand Questions – Answered!

Sometimes the terms “brand” and “branding” can feel a bit vague or even overwhelming, particularly for those beginning a business, embarking on the entrepreneur track, or looking to refresh their current brand or business.

Branding is often overlooked as an important initial aspect of building a business or re-building an existing one. Many think that “branding” can be added on after the business gets rolling, but the real value of a strong brand goes beyond what the color, logo, or website offer. If you have a clear grasp on who your business is really trying to reach and what you are promising to deliver, you’ll quickly realize the many ways having strong brand can benefit your business, from taking the stress out of daily decisions, to charging a premium for your product or services, to being forgiven by your following for any blunders. You’ll quickly see why a strong brand can be an entrepreneur’s secret weapon.

But how and where do you start formulating your brand?

Do these questions sound familiar:

  • What is a brand?
  • How does having a strong brand help my business?
  • How do I start developing my brand?
  • I’m not a big business, how can I do what the big brands like Starbucks, Virgin and Zappos! do?
  • How can I make my brand work harder to grow my business?

I recently was interviewed by Jennifer Love, Founder of JenniferLove.com and Co-founder & CEO NibMor for her free weekly video interview series that gives tips and information on building business, sales, and product development. I thoroughly enjoyed  sharing answers to her branding questions and giving tips on how knowing your brand well can help in building your business. There are plenty of tips and takeaways in this fun chat, you won’t want to miss it.

As a followup to the video Jennifer and I answered your branding questions in Twitter chat, using the hashtag #Branding101. It was great fun connecting with Jennifer and the Twitter community. You can read takeaways and highlights from our chat HERE.

If you want to receive notification when Jennifer’s new videos go live, sign up at Jennifer’s site HERE, and you’ll also receive access to special information not available to the public.