Publishing · reblog

Branding for Dummies: David Palmer talks about Wiley’s “For Dummies” series

This news is a bit old to the rest of my publishing cohorts, but on Monday, David Palmer of John Wiley & Sons/ Wiley-Blackwell (I never know which one is appropriate) came to speak to our course about branding. More specifically, branding in relation to the world-wide “For Dummies” series. You know the ones. They look like they stole their colour palette from a gang of bumblebees and feature topics about everything under the sun (including beekeeping). 

Branding is probably my favourite part of “marketing” because it relies heavily on having a recognisable design as much as a recognisable name and as I fancy myself the designer (I’m not, but I can dream!) it was great to have a guest speaker who actually talked about maintaining brand values.

Palmer stressed the need for “partnerships” with other companies that publishers might not think of immediately when thinking of a title. Examples of this might include “box sets” involving Guitar for Dummies, a guitar, a DVD and a tuner (or a similar pack involving a ukelele!), or maybe a service like “Tech Support for Dummies” to help people fix their computers. As long as it maintains or improves brand awareness and image, you can do no wrong.

Our lecturers are always talking about how we should be finding potential sponsors or partners to join us in funding our new products, but after a while your brain gets a bit stuck on finding out which societies are lurking around the corner. It’s hard to look at the bigger picture. David Palmer certainly helped shake me out of that way of thinking. Now I can safely dream about a social media book series that comes with a free Mark Zuckerberg to code the reader their own social media website at will.

There’s definitely potential in that.

In addition to gaining a bit of insight (someone get me a thesaurus because I know I keep using that word, but I can’t stop!) into the world of such a heavily branded series, I also learned a bit of trivia.

  • The first book in the series was published just over 20 years ago and was not conceived to be part of a series.
  • The first book was DOS for Dummies.
  • There have been over 1800 books published since the first.
  • Each topic area has a specific group of experts working to figure out what the next big title will be.

Interesting stuff, eh? Now if only I could get my hands on “Surviving your MA in Publishing for Dummies”.


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