How to Style Your Brand: A Year On
This is a story about believing in yourself. A story about 'going for it' when the experts are telling you no. It's a story about following your dreams, challenging the norms and the power of creative vision. Just a year ago I was quite literally trembling in my boots. The day had finally come when I was launching my book, How to Style Your Brand, into the world.
Timing is everything
I'd dreamed of creating a coffee-table style business book for at least five years. I'd had several, failed, attempts at writing the book before - getting so far and then getting blocked, losing momentum, never finishing. For that I'm so grateful because clearly the time just wasn't right. Everything happens for a reason and How to Style Your Brand is the book it is today because of where I was in my life. It was the right time.
Selling my business and taking some time out finally gave me the time, perspective and confidence to write the book I'm immensely proud of. Determined that there was a need for my book, I boldly self published a very different sort of book: a business book that combined style with substance. A coffee-table book for entrepreneurs.
Excited about creating something different and something I felt sure there was a need for, I took on board publisher's rejections and dismissals of my woefully small 'platform' and instead focused my energies on making my project work.
I created a business plan, a marketing plan and a beautiful book. I employed a top editor, a brilliant photographer and an army of proof readers. I collaborated with some of the best designers in the business and featured a wide range of entrepreneurs across many genres.
How to Style Your Brand might have been self published (and I'll share on Wednesday why I think that's been one of it's strengths) but I didn't want it to look self published. Instead, I wanted to create a beautiful, creative and professional looking book that could hold it's own amongst some of the most inspiring titles on our bookshelves and I moved heaven and earth to make that happen.
Fiona Humberstone is a brand styling guru. Her book How to Style Your Brand is authoritative, full of advice and exceptionally well set out and well structured.
From the outset, Fiona offers clarity. She'll help you focus your ideas, explore your brand identity, she'll help you think about your message, your strengths, your selling point, as well as discussing logos, colours, fonts, illustration and design.
How to Style Your Brand is almost like a brand styling consultation, in book form, and you can carry out the consultation at any time - preferably at the outset, though this book is also relevant for anyone re-branding or changing direction, too. You can dip in and out or follow the book from beginning to end.
I wish I had read this book when I first started out in my journey as a food writer and blogger, because I think I would have had more focus from the start and would have saved costly mistakes with designers. However, it's never too late to take on board Fiona's advice and even just a few tweaks here and there (perhaps with colours, font or your message) can make all the difference.
I am not surprised that How to Style Your Brand has become a best-seller and it is perhaps the strongest example of successful self-publishing in its genre and indeed, across many more.
Ren Behan, via Amazon.co.uk
In short, I'd done everything I could to make the book a success. But even so, a year ago today, I was absolutely terrified.
Terrified because I'd just sunk a whole heap of our savings into a modest print run (of 2,000 copies) that I'd been advised I'd do well to sell within a couple of years.
Terrified because in the course of selecting submissions for the book I'd featured some of the most awe inspiring and talented designers in the world. Would they like what they saw? Would they like the design of the book? Would they like my process for styling a brand? Would they agree with my approach? Would they ask themselves: "Who does she think she is?".
Most of all I guess I was terrified because I was doing something very, very different to anything that was out there.
Dreams do happen
This year has been about believing in myself, growing in confidence and thinking bigger than I ever thought possible. It's been about finding strength from rejection and sharpening my focus. Publishing How to Style Your Brand has opened doors to some truly wonderful things: new friends, new clients, new collaborations and new projects.
The book has been a success in more ways than I could have hoped.
This book is everything I hoped it would be and much much more. It balances practical advice with inspirational quotes, beautiful images and real world examples. It's written in such a lovely tone that you feel like Fiona is standing next to you, guiding you through every step. And it really does cover every step of creating a brand identity from colours and photography, to logos and websites. I spent 12 years working in advertising and branding and I've learnt a lot from this book, and perhaps more importantly, been inspired and motivated. I wish it had been around when I was launching previous ventures - I will certainly have to hand for my next one.
Mrs K J Tregidden via Amazon.com
I've had amazing feedback - from both my fellow designers and the entrepreneurs I'd created the book for. I continue to be humbled (and excited) by your reviews, instagram shares and blog posts.
Just a small selection of my favourite images on the #howtostyleyourbrand hashtag.
I've been a business owner for many years and read numerous books on branding a business. But this is the book that spoke to me! Fiona brings such a passion and knowledge to the design process and gives you so much to think about, with clear outlines and questions...and then helps you pull it all together to design and brand your unique business. It's very much a workbook that gives you a process to get you to your design. I've bought 4 copies of her book and shared it with friends and they've all agreed...best book out there on branding your business!
Mint Condition Herb Farm via Amazon.com
In terms of book sales it's worked out rather better than planned. My initial print run sold out within six weeks and since then I've gone on to reprint the book twice more - with a fourth run (of 10,000) about to be ordered imminently.
How to Style Your Brand has sat at the top of the bestseller lists in the UK pretty consistently for most of the past year and regularly a top 20 book in America (where I really haven't been terribly proactive in my marketing). The book has been sold in dozens of countries around the world and as you read this, I'll be on a plane on the way to Tallin where I'll be doing a week of book signings and workshops with my Estonian distributor.
In short, this year has been nuts.
You've totally got this
What I hope my story shows is that if you really, really believe in yourself; if you know from experience that there's a need and a desire for what you're doing, then you can make anything happen.
Over the course of this week I'd like to share my experiences and reflect on what's happened this year, so I'm going to share a different snippet with you each day of my journey from trembling self publisher to sell-out sensation!
I'd also like to share as many of your stories as possible, so if you've used How to Style Your Brand to brand or rebrand your business then please do share with me on Facebook, Instagram or email book at fionahumberstone dot com - I'll be sharing my favourites on the blog over the next few weeks.