Cover designs, changes and curve balls

Hello again you lovely guys! Honestly, you wait months for a blog post from me and then three come along at once. Just like London busses… It seems that now the seal has been broken on the blog I just can’t stop writing. There’s so much I want to share with you and today, I’d like to talk about cover designs.

I’ve written before about the importance of a cover. It’s got to be impactful, stand out from the other alternatives and give a flavour of what’s inside the book. It needs to set the tone, create anticipation and desire and, of course, be something I am super proud of.

Matt and I found shooting the last cover immensely stressful and I have to admit, this time wasn’t much different!

I wanted something that felt aspirational, stylish and super inspirational. I was thinking a palette of greens, blacks, nudes and beautiful back light. The biggest stumbling block we always have is making the cover look like a branding book rather than an interiors book. Easier said than done.

So many images nearly made the cut.

Lovely. One of my favourite images. But not enough going on and that light is distracting halfway down the side.

I have a real soft spot for this one. It’s exactly what I envisaged. But it doesn’t say ‘branding book’. We shot another with all the gumpf that you see below and it just looked a mess. It was horrid. I can’t even bring myself to show you.

I really hate this one. It’s messy. I hate the collage and the whole thing just feels contrived and lacking in life.

Too busy, too distracting. No room for text. The light competes with the title, as do the flowers.

The cover design

But this one just felt right. It isn’t bold. It isn’t impactful, but when combined with the beautiful copper foiling it’s going to look incredible. More to the point, it’s going to totally stand out from the other books in its category. A quick search for ‘branding small businesses’ on Amazon turns up an assortment of bold-covered, shall we say, strong, designs, which totally flies in the face of what I’m setting out to achieve with this book.

Brand Brilliance is all about being irresistible. It’s about creating desire, adding value and creating a business that really works for you. I firmly believe that less is more, that you don’t need to bludgeon people into buying from you and that you don’t need to shout. At all. So not only does the cover stand out for looking quieter than the rest on the page, it also sets the tone nicely for the book.

It also feels like it’s come from the same company as How to Style Your Brand, but just as the content and tone of my book has subtly shifted a gear, so too has the cover. This one feels really, really me. I love How to Style Your Brand. I’m immensely proud of it and I still get a real buzz from knowing how useful you find it. But honestly, writing this book has totally shifted my perspective. I really think this is going to change the way you do business. And I’m really, really excited to see what you think.

I sent the cover over to Jo Copestick- publishing stalwart, editorial consultant and all round brilliant person and she loved it. Phew! So far, so good.

The curve ball

Don’t curve balls come when you least expect them? It was Nicky, at the printers, who ever so gently and kindly said: does it look different enough from your first book? Good Question!!! I’d made sure it looked different from the competition. I’d made sure to create impact. I’d made sure it was on brand. I hadn’t even considered whether it needed to look different to How to Style Your Brand!

Most days I’m asked: How is this book different from your first? It’s so different! How to Style Your Brand covers one, very specific area – styling your brand, really comprehensively. Brand Brilliance is designed to help you define your values, refine your message and take your business up a gear. Once you’ve done that, it’ll help you communicate that through everything you do: your website, your marketing literature, your sales tools, your brand voice. It’s a more comprehensive guide to branding in general.

So it’s not really a case of one or other book. It’s both.

In my mind, I’m happy with the cover. But to satisfy my own curiosity, provide a little entertainment for you on a snowy day and just because I can, I’ve mocked up a dark cover too. I do love a dark cover, don’t you? That, combined with the beautiful copper foil could look absolutely stunning. It certainly has impact. But is it right?

Here it is against the other books – it doesn’t stand out as much I don’t think? But I do love it. And it looks classy.


That light is kind of annoying isn’t it? So for the purposes of a fair test I’ve done a dreadful job of cloning it out. Matt will freak. But if it works, he could totally do it properly. I do love that dark cover…

And here it is against How to Style Your Brand.

I showed my friend Ashley the two alternative cover images fresh from my shoot with Matt, a month or so ago and she very perceptibly said, ‘the lighter one is more on brand’. And she’s right. So my heart is probably with the pale one. But I don’t have that same gut-wrenching reaction that I had to the contents page. I’m a little less fixed in my opinions here. So I’vc created another poll. Which do you prefer? Which should I go with?

As always, looking forward to your votes and comments! Oh, and on that note… Thank you for your comments on the Contents page. I am totally going with my gut on that one. I hadn’t quite realised how strongly I felt about it til I started writing the blog post. It’s a no brainer really. I’m sorry for those left-brains amongst you, I am going to take my usual renegade approach!

Over to you. Which cover should I go with?

Have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re up to.

Which cover should I go with?

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    Fiona Humberstone

    No I agree. I love the dark cover. But the light one totally *feels* right. The more I write and think and get the feedback the happier I am! Thanks Nicola xx


    Hi Fiona
    Love both! If I was in Waterstones browsing branding books, the paler one would speak to me more. No sure why as I am about to post myself on darker wall colours and how versatile they are. I think the light one appeals to more people…. it’s universal. Dark wall tones are not everyone’s cup of tea, so they may not instinctively go for the book on that basis.
    Can’t wait to read it!

    Fiona Humberstone

    Thank you! I think it’s because it’s inspiring? So it feels like you can do it. Totally going with light!

    Frau Jona&Son

    Dear Fiona, I prefer the dark design.
    Here are some thoughts I had when looking at your cover ideas:
    First I am not sure if the composition( seat, cardigan, sketchbook…).carry your message strong enough.
    Also the copper colour is not eye-catching enough for me. Copper is a trend colour now but in some years?…
    The style of the cover is quite female and too private for me, a bit too soft. It may reduce your target group and I am sure you want to make a book for different working fields and both sexes.
    The aim of discovering the essence of yourself and developing it to a professional output for your own business…..I miss that aim on the cover.
    But besides all of my notes: You do a great job and this book will be another success, I am sure. Best wishes to you and your brilliant book, I am sure, it will be. and I will buy a copy, of course. All the best, Frau Jona&Son from Austria


    LOVE them both for different reasons and it’s difficult to articulate, but… there’s something psychological about the light cover that makes me feel like the book is going to be easy to take in. Whereas the dark cover makes me feel it might be a little harder? I know what I mean, even if you don’t, ha! Regardless, all the shots look stunning in their own way, and what a great post to show the runners up and how they compare 🙂 X


    Definitely the white one. It fits with your own brand much better and looks more approachable. Also the text is clearer against the white, so you can see what the book is about. I want the light one in my life the dark one I am less drawn too and like Caz says it feels more serious and might be harder to digest. Hope this helps. (I am a summer person so probably why I like the white one too!!!) Love all the styling. xxx

    mercy / The Visual Corner

    I believe the light cover its perfect for your book. I love the idea of a dark – cooper cover, but seeing the two designs, the more attracted to my eyes is the light one. I sure that this second book, it’s going to be a success! 😉


    Wow! TOUGH decision!! Gosh they both look really lovely Fiona!! I like the differentiation of the light cover for your first book and then dark for your second. That concept feels right – but the image doesn’t speak Brand Brilliance to me. So I’d go with the light. The steaming cup of tea makes me think of the energy and excitement of starting a new morning and project vs working late into the night to hit a deadline : D. I think I’m more hung up on the font. The one from the first book feels modern and fresh, aspirational and branded whereas the second feels traditional and a little old : ( Copper is lovely and I enjoy its use as a play on words for the book. Very elegant. Go with your gut!! ; ) This book is going to be so amazing!!

    Steph Eastwood

    On Instagram I loved the dark one however since reading your blog post and seeing it against the competition I’ve changed my mind, it has to be the paler one. Love it. Can’t wait for the launch! X


    Hello Hello there,
    the bright one. That is the book I would pick up and look into if I seen it on the shelves not knowing what I will find inside.

    Have a wonderful day


    Hi Fiona, I’m sorry, but for me, neither cover does your message justice. You’re in the right direction by wanting to differentiate yourself from other books in the category by choosing a more “lifestyle” look, but the photos you’ve chosen lack oomf, something for the potential buyer to latch onto that says branding, style etc. I’d begin again if I were you The chosen images focus too much on a single decor element and not the overall setting: I find myself wondering if it’s a plant decor book. The dark blue coloured image is close but needs a bit more emphasis on the sketchbook, less on the plants and the chair is oddly distracting/repetitive (too similar) when you look at it in conjunction with the first book. The light image of choice #1 would benefit from the same… it has too much focus on the glass thing and I find myself wondering what it is & what does it have to do with this book. Perhaps use a few more elements that are tools of your trade… pencils, swatches… or just bring the focus back onto a visiin board spread in a sketchbook. And a suggestion: differentiate from your first book through the image, but keep a sense of continuity by using the same typeface and treatment as the first book. No matter what your cover image ends up being, I’m super excited to get my hands on the book: your work is brilliant!

    Fiona Humberstone

    SO many thoughtful, useful and fabulous comments. Thank you so much.

    It’s funny because I really thought I didn’t have a strong opinion, but the more you’ve shared your thoughts, the stronger my views have become. I’m totally going with the pale cover. I adore it.

    I’m happy it communicates my message. I think it looks fabulous. It fits with my brand and it totally sets the tone for what’s inside.

    Sorry, dark-cover lovers! I do take your point, but I’m sticking with plan A!

    Billi Button

    Hi Fiona, I may have missed the boat here…… but I thought I would give my two pennies worth. Firstly I have just finished your book ‘How to Style Your Brand’ and have really enjoyed it and am in the process of applying it. You explain everything in such an understandable way and it is a pleasure to read with all the beautiful imagery. I will be buying your next book regardless of the cover as I rate this one so much. Although both book covers look amazing I think I prefer the freshness of the lighter cover. I agree with Josephine regarding the font, I prefer the font on ‘How to Style Your Brand’, but that said I really really like the copper. Good luck with it all.

    Caroline Job

    Hi Fiona

    I am so glad to hear you are getting closer to the book launch!
    I love the lighter cover – it’s inspiring, it’s fresh but feel the font and title positioning need to be more in line with the first book – for continuity and so that the reader feels they are from the same family of books. Just my opinion but I feel the title maybe should read “Brand Brilliance – how to elevate your brand and enchant your audience”. Intrigued to turn the cover and read on!
    Good luck!
    Caroline x


    Hi Fiona: I’m so thrilled that you’re seeking feedback from all of us. After all, you ARE the expert! That said, I prefer the light cover. As noted above, the words Brand Brilliance don’t pop off the cover as clearly as with the lighter cover. Also, the dark cover is a bit cluttered. I like the fresh, clean look of the light cover. (But I did like the darker version. Really had to think about this.) Glad to see you’ve made your choice. Can hardly wait for publication date!

    Matt Pereira

    Light, Light, Light …. we already looked at a dark cover and decided that it was too “impactful” (is that even a word?)

    I love the fact that we have an overwhelming vote for “light” over dark – not only because cloning out that light would be very hard work 😉 … but because I think it’s too different from Book 1 and too far from brand … i’m happy with the way the decision seems to be going … xx


    The lighter colour is definitely something I would gravitate towards more…. and I love that it doesn’t feature any fluro colours like the other books do. The light cover is really clean!!! Well done x

    Heidi Pähn

    Dear Fiona! As they say, don’t judge the book by its cover, I would definitely go with the lighter cover, since it makes me feel more positive and is giving me better vibes than the darker one. But I must say, that after worked through your first book, I would buy the second one with whatever is on the cover.
    I can’t wait to get it 🙂 do you take pre-orders?

    Kelly Brito

    Oh, I love both covers, of course! If I had to choose a place to work daily, it would be the darker one. I’d feel very relaxed in that space. That being said, I do love bright spaces as well and think the light cover has a bright, positive vibe, as Heidi Pahn said. I also think it complements the cover of the first book well.



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