Yesterday, in its first monthly San Francisco luncheon co-sponsored with the Association of American Journalists and Authors, theNorthern California Book Publicity and Marketing Association invited RobertFriedman, founder of Fearless Branding, to speak to its members about one of thebiggest buzz words in the book business these days: branding.

"Brand isnot the same thing as marketing," said Friedman, who worked at advertising agenciesin New York and then on such brands as Kraft and Nestle, early in his discussion.He explained that brand "becomes the foundation on what the marketing is built."

He said itstarts with a "who are you" kind of conversation, and the further it isexplored, the more companies (publishers and authors in this case) can uncovernot just the unique value of their offerings but also the market that wants that value most. The next step in branding, said Friedman, is to segment that market.

He usedseveral examples of good branding to make his points. Take Ralph Lauren's Polobrand: Friedman pointed out that the archetype behind the brand was the conceptof a lifestyle that could be labeled "aristocrat"; he then showed how Polo kept thisarchetype message consistent in its advertising.

Tiffany'slittle blue box was another good brand example Friedman examined. The brandprovides an emotional, functional, and aesthetic appeal that helps to establishbrand with the consumer. Or in other words: a brand can't just have meaning; it mustalso deliver on a promise.

In books,Friedman suggested that publishers and authors first consider the needs oftheir consumers. Next, he said, they should examine the consumer's first introduction totheir product (e.g., the book jacket) and whether that helps break the product out of theclutter. Finally, they should determine what they (publisher and author) want the customer totake away from their product—it could be the content of the book or the type of story, like Dan Brown's brand.

Friedmanpointed to Malcolm Gladwell's consistently designed and branded titles, from The Tipping Point to Outliers. He said whatGladwell offers is "understanding" of complex things, and the books arepackaged in a consistent, recognizable way.

What successful brands (like Polo,Tiffany's, and even Malcolm Gladwell) have in common, Friedman said, is thatthey are all built upon a single meaningful idea relevant to a specific market."When a brand is that simple andthat clear, then the audience will have a very clear and simple reaction to it,"he said.

Publicists in attendance, like Ulysses Press's KarmaBennett, believed Friedman provided some food for thought.