On more than one occasion over the last few years, people have recommended that I write a book. Typically, I would smile and listen to all their compelling arguments to do so: from putting down our specific experiences and putting the spotlight on brand as a process (how sexy!); to personal branding, and so on. It always seemed to be a very noble and exciting idea, but what’s been holding me back are all the stories of writers who’ve gone through the painful process of creating a book - I was afraid of the personal challenge.
Ultimately, as it’s been nagging me for quite a while, last year I decided to embark on the journey – let’s do it! In case I had inadvertently bitten off more than I could chew, I made two key decisions before I began:
- Let’s share the ‘fun’, and ask my partner in business, Laurens Hoekstra, to join me on the journey as my co-author. This required some convincing but I was glad to ultimately have him on board. ,-)
- Secondly, we decided to make our lives easier and treat the book as a project – like we do with our client work - this was going to be an easy ride for us, surely!
So here we are, looking to publish our book on June 29, in Brussels, during the annual Summit of the European Association of Communication Directors, on July 4 in Amsterdam and then in London and Germany after the summer. Looking back, I sincerely believe we’ve made the right choices. And yet – still, it’s been quite an intense journey but quite an enjoyable challenge. Let me share with you some of what I have learned along the way.
Positioning our book
When creating the initial objective for our book, we concluded that we like to position our book for business leaders at C-level. In terms of plotting Future Proof Your Brand, we’d want it to sit between McKinsey, branding-agencies and FedEx, respectively; business impact, branding and logistics. Exactly our cup of tea in how we see the importance of brands rising and impacting business performance. With this positioning in mind, we then created the contents and synopsis for our work. For us, Future Proof Your Brand is not about the ‘Why’ or ‘What’ of branding, but about the ‘How to go about it’ – in real life, and the great market dynamics that play a part.
Having spent considerable time working only with Laurens at the beginning on the ambition and contents for the book, we then created an internal project; with workstreams and a dedicated team to help us get properly prepared. I must say, this was great, as planning always is. ,-)
The real challenge came when it was time to start the desk research; summarising trends and developments, and testing these against our own experience and vision. Not because of the content, but because this was where our heavy involvement was required. Many long nights were spent deciding how to structure our thinking in the right way, and how to demonstrate the models that we apply in real life with clients, in the form of a book. Theory and practice do not always work seamlessly together. ,-) Then the real hard work of writing started. Again, we divided the work, and had to make sure we found time to lock ourselves away in our offices and begin to create content – this is a time that neither of us will forget in a hurry. The next phase was to curate, assess and edit the contents again-and-again, which was very time consuming, but highly rewarding, as this was the phase where the book content really started to come together.
Somewhere during the writing-process we also started thinking about the design of the book. After all, you want it to be appealing and stand out among other books on a shelf or online. This is why we ultimately decided to apply yellow to the book cover, as we haven’t seen this colour on most other business books.
Where are we today?
At this very moment, we’re finalising the design, cover and layout of the book for it to be printed and published on Amazon. I can’t wait until the first stack of books are shipped and we can feel it in our hands, as well as being available on Kindle. Surely, this is not the end of our journey, but only the beginning. We’re in the midst of planning the launch events and PR around the book, which will include speaking activities around the world. All-in-all this process hasn’t been as scary as I had imagined, but still a mammoth amount of work. I’m looking forward to the exciting period ahead, and will keep you posted!