Rebranding Rethink Press with Lucy McCarraher

brand strategy branding podcast rebranding Mar 10, 2022

Lucy McCarraher: Because I mean, the important thing to remember is that a book is, I mean, it's an iconic product a book. And you don't want as an author to undervalue that to devalue. I mean, some people are paying for your book, we, you know, suggest that people give away a lot of books because that gets the book into the right hand. 

Shireen Smith: Hello and welcome to the Brand Tuned podcast, which discusses all things brand related, including the essential trademark and IP dimension. I'm your host, Shireen Smith, IP lawyer, brand manager, and author of Brand Tuned The New Rules of Branding Strategy and Intellectual Property. Before the episode begins, I just want to mention the brand tuned accreditation course, which is in the pipeline, it will cover how to create a brand strategy, taking account of intellectual property as it arises during the process brand protection considerations impact the choice of names or other brand identifiers. So to make better branding decisions, register your interest at brandtuned.com. That link is in the show notes. So welcome to the brand tune podcast. Lucy, it's great to have you here. Tell us a bit more about you and your background and what you do, please.

Lucy McCarraher: Well, what I do now is I'm mostly a publisher, and I founded Rethink Press with Joe Gregory 10 years ago. And actually, we're kind of celebrating our, you know, the end of our 10th year. So we started Rethink Press as a two person business with Joe and I doing absolutely everything. And we now have a 50 plus strong team of coaches and editors and designers and publishing professionals who work all around the world. And we've published over 500 books. So we're feeling a bit sort of smug really I suppose at the end of this year. 

Shireen Smith: Yes, that’s a lot to celebrate. 

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, it's worked out well, we didn't know how it worked out. But starting from the beginning of my career, many years ago, I started off as a magazine publisher. I founded a performing arts theatre magazine in Australia and ran that for eight years, which was kind of a mad thing to do because Australia is a very small population and a very huge space and performing arts and theatre is quite a minority interest. But those were the days when you could get lots of arts funding. So we ran that for eight years and then I came back to England and went into television. So I've done a lot of writing for TV, and video and producing stuff. So that was all quite exciting and interesting. And then I moved kind of accidentally into what was just beginning to be called work-life balance. And actually, funnily enough, although I'd always wanted to write a book I hadn't up to that stage. But when I became a work-life balance consultant, I got commissioned to write a book, an actual book by an actual publisher. And so that was my first book. And so yes, and I discovered then, although I wasn't really kind of thinking in those terms, at the time, that writing a book is a very good way, of promoting yourself of raising your profile, but also kind of establishing a kind of brand. So so that's what I did. And then I when I heard yours writing novels, sorry?

Shireen Smith: You've written 11 books in all?

Lucy McCarraher: I've written 13 books. 

Shireen Smith: 13 wow.

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, yes. Yes. So that's yes. I also very much enjoy writing of all kinds. So yeah, that's what I that's what's kind of the thread that runs through probably most of my strange career,

Shireen Smith: And hence being a publisher now. 

Lucy McCarraher: Yeah, yes, yes, absolutely. So, yes.

Shireen Smith: So how did you enjoy meet initially?

Lucy McCarraher: Well, we met initially because I wrote a book called The Real Secret, which was a self help book and he published it and we didn't know each other at all. And then we realized that actually, we lived quite close together. We're both in Norfolk. So we met at a networking event, strangely enough and I realized that he had recently lost his business partner. I don't mean she left. And I thought well actually, it that's interesting. This is very interesting. I really enjoy publishing. And there are some things here that I could add to the mix of what Joe was doing so we started working together and I became his commissioning editor at Book Shaker. And, and then we came up with the idea of doing things slightly differently. We kind of rethought the publishing business model. And we started Rethink Press together. And, yeah, as I say, that was 10 years ago, 10 years ago, we had, we had a website, we had a name, we had a few clients, and a few books in production, but none have been published. So that's, that's what we were just reminiscing about the other day, where we, where we started.

Shireen Smith: And you rebranded recently. So what was that about?

Lucy McCarraher: Well, we had, we had built the rethink brand without a lot of professional branding input. So Joe comes from I mean Joe is a graphic designer, and also has a marketing background. And I suppose I like to think I have some kind of creative ideas around visuals of graphics and things. So we kind of put our brand together in a slightly ad hoc way. And we had well, in fact, we came to you to, to register to trademark some of our visuals, in fact, the name Rethink Press. But we hadn't, we hadn't really done the whole branding picture and we really felt that after sort of, you know, nine years as it was, we needed to pull it together, things have changed, you know, we're very different business to what we were when we started. So we thought it was time to have a new, we started with the idea, we'll have a new website, and then we realized we needed an entirely new brand to go with it. So that's what we did.

Shireen Smith: So what actually changed?

Lucy McCarraher: Well, kind of everything changed in a way from our logo to the way we presented ourselves and actually, it was a surprisingly deep and rigorous process. I mean, I thought we'd probably just have a chat with our key branding person. And you know, they'd go away and come up with some ideas. And in fact, there were two sides to it. There were two, we were working with two key people, one of them, Kieran was doing the words. And the other one, Simon was doing the visuals. So we had a number Joe and I had a number of quite lengthy zoo because it was sort of, you know, going through lockdown and everything. So we had quite a number of lengthy conversations with them were  Kieran, and especially was very good. It was a bit like therapy, actually, to be honest, we were kind of going through our vision, and our values, and our different personalities. And Joe and I are in many ways like chalk and cheese. So you know, they wanted to well I mean, we have, we share the same vision and values, but you know, sort of personality wise, we're, we're quite different. And I think that's why we work so well together. But they wanted to kind of have both sides of that represented. So you know, we had to sort of talk about ourselves and our backgrounds and, and how we saw the business and what we wanted for our authors and our clients. And it was very interesting, because I'm quite kind of controlling about words, I suppose. I like to have the final say on the way things are written. But actually Kieran went away and wrote stuff that I would never have come up with. And we came up with a really kind of brilliant strapline, which kind of sums up our business but I don't think either of us would ever have come up with it. So it's now nothing sells you like a book… and no one builds a book like Rethink, and that's kind of now runs through everything. Whenever I give a talk or, you know, do training about book writing or mentoring. That's, that's the kind of basic premise that I work from and that I, you know, repeat over and over again. And it really, that's been really enlightening in a way and I suppose the whole thing was rather enlightening. 

Shireen Smith: Yeah.

Lucy McCarraher: How other people saw us.

Shireen Smith: So nothing sells you like a book and then what?

Lucy McCarraher: And then and no one builds a book, like Rethink.

Shireen Smith: Oh, interesting. I like the fact that you've got your name in it Rethink. I'm just immediately thinking like a lawyer and that you.

Lucy McCarraher: Oh, right.

Shireen Smith: Because it's got Rethink in it. 

Lucy McCarraher:  Yeah. Right. So that I'm glad that you approved that because I hadn't until that second I hadn't thought about the legal implications of it.

Shireen Smith: If it's something you use a lot and make a lot and want to become recognized by then, obviously, if you couldn't protect it that enhances your ability to stop other people using a similar. 

Lucy McCarraher: Right, right. So are you suggesting that we should actually trademark that phrase? Okay. Well, I'll come back to you on that one. Thank you for that free advice.

Shireen Smith: So did you also, have you come up with a totally new colouring?

Lucy McCarraher: Yes. Yes, we have. Absolutely. So we, we started off, we had a logo, or a kind of colour font, really, for our logo with Rethink with a with a capital R and an E backwards. So it fitted into a nice kind of box that we could put on the spine of books. And that was we thought blue was the colour we wanted in the first place. So we've had we had quite a lot of you know, 10 years ago, we were very much a blue kind of coloured Rethink. Yeah. And, and then we wrote a book called how to write your book without the fast which was our signature book, and that had a very orange colour. So when we turned our kind of logos orange, and went orange and black and white for a bit. And so now our new colours are completely different. And the logo itself I mean, we've got a new typeface. We've got a new you know, sort of full length, Rethink logo and also a little RE logo and the colours are completely different. We've got a sort of what I would call a dark greeny, bluey, petrelli colour, and a very pale blue and salmony pink and kind of a few colours in between. And it's completely different. And I love it. Yes, we both do, I think.

Shireen Smith: So the E is still backwards. So not?

Lucy McCarraher: It's no, we now have actually we have rethink spelt with the, its upper and lowercase and the E is slightly elevated. So it's our E, and then think, the kind of normal size, because it sort of represents the, what we wanted to get across somehow was that the book elevates our authors so that he is elevated, I don't suppose that comes across to anyone, literally as they read it. But that's the feeling that we want to get over.

Shireen Smith:  So you thought about your vision, mission values. So what do you stand for? Do you think as a you know, if you had to choose two or three words to associate with your brand, what are they? How you differ from other publishers?

Lucy McCarraher: I think the word talking about building books is very important to us because we not only unlike other public, most other publishers, we not only have you know, take manuscripts and publish them, and produce books, we also have a big coaching team. So we actually start from the very beginning with a lot of authors from the book idea. And we help them plan and write their book. And we see that as building a book building a book from the ground upwards. So our writing program, our writing book in 90 days program is called Book Builder. And so it's, and our book, we actually have a book that, you know, it has the same name. So Book Builder is the name of the book and the program. And it is kind of our concept, you know, we build books, 

Shireen Smith: I must say I can that resonates with me because you helped me with my proposal at one point when I was thinking of getting it published and the ideas you introduced, I hadn't thought of was to try and show in the various chapters exactly what my framework was. So this sort of idea of building a book is definitely something I got from you very much in the way you gave feedback and helped. So yeah, that's, that's great, but you've managed to hone in on that.

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, I mean, that's very much what we we I mentor authors through a very specific process because I think that just makes it so much easier. I think people are often overwhelmed by the idea of writing a book if they've never done it before. It seems a huge piece of work and a kind of rather like a big amorphous kind of task with full of strange things that they don't quite right now how to do and what I think what we're both Joe and I are both good at is chunking things down into manageable steps. And also creating, we love creating models. So we have the writer process, which is an acronym, and the author model and the three P's of positioning. But so to position your book, so we go through all those when we're mentoring people, and I think it helps to be able to envisage things in that very clear way.

Shireen Smith: Yeah. So, I mean, did were you thoroughly clear about your mission and values before you went into the rebrand or, you know how did that help?

Lucy McCarraher: Verified it I think we, I think we knew what we were doing and what we wanted to do, but actually talking it through with someone who was someone else who was going to, you know, creates the words for us, helped us to clarify it ourselves. So we have, you know, we stand for, I think, kind of will rethink the name stands for innovation, we were a bit disruptive in the industry, and we want to continue to, to be so in terms of the publishing model for the kinds of authors who we work with, we will want to embody integrity. And, and, and ambition really to get, you know, to help our authors. I mean, we rate our success on the success of our authors. So the building a book is about creating a tool for business. And it's got to be a good book, it's not just a kind of fancy business card with, you know, with an in book format, it actually has to be a really valuable and good book, and very well produced and professional, but it is about create, helping to create books that enable our authors to use their book to really build their businesses. And the more kind of great stories we get about how, how that works for our authors, the happier we are.

Shireen Smith: Yes, I remember when I sent my proposal for my previous book to you, you said you're not writing a brochure. And it's just so easy when you're thinking about writing a book to just be promotional. 

Lucy McCarraher: Yeah.

Shireen Smith: And not have a clue about actually, how does it land with somebody else? And I'll never forget.

Lucy McCarraher: But well, well, I think good. Yeah. I mean, yeah, that is that is a very strong sort of ethos we take through not just the writing, but the editing of our books, our editors are all trained to spot too much sales in this. So no, because I mean, the important thing to remember is that a book is, I mean, it's an iconic product, a book. And and you don't want as an author to undervalue that to devalue, I mean, some people are paying for your book, we, you know, suggest that people give away a lot of books, because that gets the book into the right hands, to get new clients and partners and all that sort of thing. But you know, people are paying for your book, and they don't want to be to think that they have actually brought, you know, a glorified marketing brochures. So it's really important to give valuable content. But there are ways of doing that, that will really enhance your brand, by putting in case studies like you do in your books. And, you know, telling your own story, which is again, kind of like the brand story that is so important. And so many people talk about it now. So, so So yes, but you know, value is the name of the game. And that's what we want to be. That's what we want to be known for producing valuable books. 

Shireen Smith: Yeah, I find that people keep writing books, they don't stop at one. I wonder why that is? I mean, if they're doing it for their business, and they've written one book, why do they go on to write others?

Lucy McCarraher: When you could answer that, you've written a few books, why did you go on? 

Shireen Smith: Well, I think, you know, writing really does help you to think more clearly. I have a need to actually write in order to develop my ideas and thoughts. Otherwise, I wouldn't know what I think

Lucy McCarraher: Completely. No, that's exactly how I think there are two kinds of people, the people who think as they speak, they develop their ideas through talking them aloud. And there are people like you and me who develop their ideas through seeing them written in words on a screen or wherever and I'm completely like that. I really don't know what I'm thinking until I've written it down, and that it served me but yes, I mean, the actual act of writing 30 to 40,000 words about what you do, or your beliefs or you know, whatever it is your model, your process is incredibly clarifying. I mean, it gives you fantastic clarity about yourself and your business and what you do. And often, I mean, people actually will pivot their businesses because the process of writing has been so illuminating to them. So yes, I think there is, you know, there are those people who just get into the actual act of writing and love doing it. But also, I think, you know, businesses progress, I think it's important to, if you have a, if you love books, and your book has done well for you then to either do a new edition or to write another book to keep your, your market up to date with your thinking and what you're actually doing. So yes, I think I mean, but a lot of people, a lot of our authors do only write one book, it is their signature book, and that's it.

Shireen Smith: So during this rebranding, did you have workshops? I mean, how did it actually work for you to give your input so that the designer and the copywriter could produce their own thing work?

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, well, I suppose they sort of world workshops, so we didn't call them that we just call them calls. So there were four of us involved. And we did, but we did share things with our team, then Joe, and I would go away and sort of share things. But it was mostly, you know, me and Joe and Kieran, who, as I said who did the words, and Simon who did the, the visuals. And we would either sometimes just talk to one of them. And Joe was sort of more in charge of the visuals and sometimes had calls with Simon and Simon him. And sometimes I would just talk to Kieran. And, and then it would all come together. And it was I mean, it was it was actually a very long process and more in-depth for my thought it was going to well, it probably out before we actually got the website actually up and running. And it probably took about a year was it possibly didn't need to take that long. I mean, it may have been that, you know, this was, I don't know, having two of us, and we're kind of working through a lot of stuff took a long time. But we used a lot of the kind of collateral on the way before the website was finished. So we started using the branding colours, and the font for marketing kind of before we'd actually finished, I suppose the website was the longest thing. And the most complicated thing, because having a lot of books on a website is quite, you know, just the technology of the website is quite difficult when you're a publisher. So perhaps that's what took so long. But yes, it was an iterative process but once we'd got once we've got the visuals in place, and the colours and the fonts, and, you know, we used we were able to then use them for slide decks and presentations and social media. So you know, sort of and then we, you know, then we'd sort of start using our strapline and bits of the bits of the writing for the website. So yes, it was quite long and involved. And it was a bit like sort of therapy really. But it was mostly very enjoyable. Sometimes it was frustrating, but it was certainly interesting.

Shireen Smith: So it was the need for a website that brought on the decision to.

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, yes, that's right. And the feeling that you know, by this time, our so called branding, our kind of you know, internal branding efforts have become a bit tired and unfocused. And you know, we had several years worth of different, you know, we'd sort of done certain things at one stage and then we had another set of graphics that went with another kind of period and then we'd moved on from that and started using a different name for something so we needed to coordinate everything that we did in one in one branding look and feel.

Shireen Smith: So what advice would you have for a business that's looking to rebrand?

Lucy McCarraher: Yeah, I mean, I think be prepared to sort of dig deep because that's really important. I mean, I think we all of us I mean Joe and I but also the whole rethink team feel that we've got a really strong coherent brand now, but it did take you know, it did take work it did take time. I don't know that it needed to take quite as long as it did that might have just been us. But you know, I think you know, give it a be prepared to give a lot and really kind of unpack. You know, your feelings away, you got to I mean, this was kind of like, well, it was nine years, but you know, it was nine years of work that had gone into what we were doing. So there was quite a lot to pull together really. And I think also work with people that you feel a, you know, a connection with, who you feel empathy with, and who you can be open with, I think it's important to, you know, because a business and a brand is not just about what you do, and the services, it's also, you know, when you're a small business, it's very much about the founders, or the CEOs, or whatever you call yourself. And, you know, it's important that your personality or personalities get expressed in your brand. So I think you've got to be able to be open and sort of vulnerable, I suppose, in a way with the people who are, who are creating a brand for you and trust them.

Shireen Smith: What made you choose the particular people you went with, for branding?

Lucy McCarraher: Well, Joe did a, he got he talked to quite a few people. And we got a sort of, he actually put together a spreadsheet of what they could do and what their strengths and what he considered perhaps their weaknesses were, and the prices, of course, and, and we went through them, and this was sort of the result of our, our deliberations. I mean, it was, you know, this whole that branding and marketing in the website falls under Joe's side of our business. So he was kind of in control of that. But you know, we do kind of take all important decisions together. 

Shireen Smith: Sure.

Lucy McCarraher: So also, he knew he Keiran and before so, you know, he had a good relationship with him and knew what he could do. And it just, you know, in the end, you know, I just went with my gut, I suppose. And I guess Joe did too. And that's, you know, it felt like the best decision.

Shireen Smith: Hmm, great. And, and then you went on to acquire or merge with Panoma?

Lucy McCarraher: We have yes, yes, we have just kind of working? Yes, we've just released the news that we have acquired for Panoma Press. We've joined forces with them. So Mindy Gibbons Klein, who's run a press for, you know, actually longer than Rethink, but about she and Joe are kind of contemporaries, if you like, and in the business in the business publishing world, in terms of how long their businesses had been running, I mean, we'd always admired what she did. We were sort of, I mean, I don't want to, I mean, yes, kind of always competitors. But, you know, very friendly competitors. And we have very similar, you know, we have the same client base, the same authors, we the kinds of books that we publish are very similar the values we have and what we're what we aspire to for our authors. So, when Mindy felt she wanted to, you know, get some more support and maybe not be so hands on in the, in the publishing side of it, you know, we she talked to us and it just felt like a really, you know, a really good fit. So, so, yes, the, the two companies have now come together, Panoma will stay as an entity, all the Panoma authors and there are hundreds, you know, there's a list of several 100. 

Shireen Smith: Oh so are they a separate brand?

Lucy McCarraher: They will stay as Panoma published by Panoma, but in the future, the authors will be new authors will be published by Rethink Press. And we will I mean, it's Mindy's got a great team as well. So it'll be really great to merge the teams and get all that put all that expertise and knowledge and experience that Mindy and her team have and put it all together with our team in one place and hopefully build a stronger business.

Shireen Smith: Yeah, it's difficult merging two small businesses so at least you've done your thinking yes, through this recent rebrand and it should make it a bit easier for you.

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, I think that's right actually yeah. So I'm it's been really interesting to see how similar you know, Mindy's kind of brand is put over as well. So that's it's not too difficult to you know, kind of make that merger happen. I mean, yeah, it's very complicated and all the bits and pieces of the business but I think you know, overall we are looking to make this a bigger better Rethink and you know, Panoma will stay there as a brand but yes, it will kind of come in under Rethink, basically.

Shireen Smith: Great. So what do you think is a key step for a business to take to ensure that it stays on brand? You know, as it develops and grows? What do you think is a really important thing for it focus on?

Lucy McCarraher: Well, I suppose I suppose and you know, you haven't paid me to say this, Shireen. But I suppose getting legal advice on your branding is really important. I mean, that was the one sort of piece of professional work that we did early on in Rethink was with you to make sure that our name was safe. I mean, that was really important because when we trademarked our name, we did find that I can't know what it's called the Schizophrenia Society. I mean, if you might, people might remember that there's been a, there's been a mental health campaign called Rethink, and they sort of objected to us when you sort of put it out there as you have to do. And, we came to an agreement with them, that if we published books on mental health subjects, that we would not put the branding of Rethink on the outside of the book, which is fine. But I mean, I'm really glad we did that because if we hadn't had that agreement, and you know, we published a book, and, you know, not and they had come to us and said, No, you can't use it, we're going to sue you. Well, we might have had to give up our name completely. So that early piece of work, I think, is a really important thing to I mean, you know, you talk so much sense and obviously need legal know, how about the importance of a name, and it being very specific and original, basically. So that was and then we had some, you know, some graphic designs, because I think because the names of our models are quite generic, like the writer process and the author model, we couldn't really trademark them because they're too general.

Shireen Smith: But that's okay, actually, you don't want too many brand names for a small business brand names you've got for more, you've got to be able to market. So like the cost, multiplies. So having descriptive names that you can put, you know, Rethink, Book Builder is actually quite a good approach rather than trying to get trademark law names for all your products. 

Lucy McCarraher: Right.

Shireen Smith: So I think it's a good strategy, you don't necessarily want trade markable product names, just use Rethink next to them.

Lucy McCarraher: Right, good. Okay, that's, that's good to know. 

Shireen Smith: Yeah. Well it just reduces your costs of trademarking. 

Lucy McCarraher: Yeah.

Shireen Smith: Of, you know, marketing, because you're essentially building value in Rethink, in that all your equity is going into that name, rather than into several names. 

Lucy McCarraher: I think that's great. That's good to know.

Shireen Smith: Is there a brand just finishing off? Is there a brand that you particularly admire? And if so, why?

Lucy McCarraher: Well, in publishing, I think the iconic brand is Penguin. And it just, it just goes back so far. And I mean, I'm not sure that their current branding is particularly memorable, but I think everybody knows the Penguin logo, the little bit within the circle. Everybody knows the stripy books that the, you know, the original Penguin Classics. And although they don't produce books with covers like that anymore, I mean, I should have had it here. But I've got you know, I've got a mug with A Room of One's Own on it. The Virginia Woolf one, kind of in the Penguin colours and stripes, and it's just you just know, it's a Penguin thing, a Penguin book. So I think they've, I think they've been, I think they had fantastic designs in the early days. And they've capitalized on that classic look and the Penguin has kind of moved forward and always stayed with them. But it's, it's still perfectly modern. So and contemporary, so I think, I think they're probably one of my favourite brands.

Shireen Smith: That's interesting. I'll have to look into them. It is very iconic, that sort of Penguin symbol that they use. I love that.

Lucy McCarraher: Yes, yes. 

Shireen Smith: Great. Well, thank you very much, Lucy, for appearing on the podcast.

Lucy McCarraher:  Well, thank you for having me. It's been a really interesting and very fruitful discussion. Thank you for your advice along the way. Bye. 

Shireen Smith: Bye. If you enjoyed this episode, please do tell a couple of people about it and sign up to the Brand Tuned newsletter over at brandtuned.com. The link is in the show notes. Thank you and bye.