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Leave Them in the Dust!

The author says:

This is a non fiction book for marketing managers and managing directors of business schools, universities and training organisations who sell leadership, management and technical professional courses to organisations. The book’s focus is helping organisations grow their business through sales and marketing so they sell more places and beating their competitors in the process. I’d grateful for your thoughts and feedback, as i find the proposed book cover design is bland



Nathan says:

I concur with your “bland” judgment.  I’m seeing two major problems with this cover:

  1. Professional silhouettes? Been done. So, so done. Overdone. Uberdone. Done beyond all previous conceptions of doneness.  Silhouettes like these are the zombies of the nonfiction cover universe. And yet your designer was so proud of the “clever” visual that he included it twice, sticking it in the title for added “impact”!  It also doesn’t help that their intercontinental connectedness makes this look like a book on business globalization, which doesn’t seem to feature in the book’s description at all.
  2. Even if — even if — globalized silhouettes weren’t an overdone visual motif, it’s a difficult-to-read cover.  Light-colored type against a white background, with only a subtle drop-shadow completely overpowered by the silhouettes within the type…  Plus, Impact font is as much the zombie of nonfiction cover fonts as silhouettes are the zombie of business book graphics. Plus plus, the subtitle is an awful lot of words (and inconsistently capitalized words, to boot) saying absolutely nothing.

Altogether, this cover is so generic and cliched as a marketing how-to book, it’s almost a parody, and not a very good one.  Sorry if that sounds awful blunt, but if there’s one thing that a marketing book cover needs to demonstrate from the first millisecond, it’s skill at marketing.

Anyone think differently?


  1. Yeah, dittos all the way. My biggest issue with it is exactly what Nathan says in his summation–that this book, about being geniuses at marketing, is so utterly lacking in ANY genius at marketing. It doesnt even use color well–it’s lacking in contrast, primary colors…it’s almost a how-to primer in how to NOT create a cover to convince people you’re experts in marketing.

    1. Silhouettes must go. As mentioned, uber-over-done.
    2. The colors are bad. Beigey-yellow, on that grey-ish blue, white–not remotely enough contrast to get this cover seen, much less the book bought.
    3. And lastly, my fave bete noir–bad font usage. There are a thousand fabulous fonts out there for non-fiction, and this cover uses none of them. Once you’ve settled on a better, stronger color theme, please play with some fonts to make more bang, less whimper.

    That’s my feedback, FWIW.

  2. For starters, while I don’t know about professional silhouettes being overdone on book covers, the ones on this cover did raise a few flags with me, so I put the cover through Google’s reverse-image search. What it turned up tells me that this particular shot of silhouettes with links to each other across the Atlantic Ocean is actually a stock image commonly used on the LinkedIn networking site. To state the problem tactfully, claiming to be able to beat the competition and then copying some other company brand’s stock imagery is not exactly going to convince very many potential readers that the book has anything useful or innovative to tell them, you know?

    As a rule, long taglines tend either to be attempts to make up for a weak title, or redundant in view of a strong title’s capacity for description. In this case, you may be gratified to know it’s the latter: the title already delivers the gist of the book’s content, and the tagline is therefore unnecessary clutter. As such, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by eliminating it, and should do so.

    I do not share Hitch’s opinion of the font, though it does look rather generic. (Of course, all sans serif fonts seem a bit generic to me.) While you might want to experiment with several alternate fonts, your main concern when doing a textbook is that the fonts be immediately accessible and legible. So far, you’ve only got the accessibility covered.

    The legibility is poor, but not so much because of the font as because of your rather boring color scheme. Even without the unnecessarily repeated graphic embedded in the letters (which breaks them up much the same way camouflage is intended to break up an image; not an effect you want at all), tarnished brass against a dull grayish-bluish-to-off-white background is not at all very eye-catching. A blunted secondary color against a drab tonal gradient background serves only to remind readers of all things dull and drab.

    About the only definite positive trait I can attribute to this cover is its layout. Keep the solid stripe up the side and the general placement of the title and imagery, and you’ve got a nice efficient cover that immediately draws the reader’s eye to its title. Everything else, however, must go: you need a whole new original cover image, the tagline needs to go, and I dare say a neon-bright color scheme of primary colors (red, green, and blue) against a pitch-black background would not be overdoing the contrast. Considering that this is a business text, green-and-gold (the colors of money) against black might be the specific color scheme that best fits your cover.

    Your title is making a rather audacious claim; a lot of other business writers claim to know how to beat the competition too. If the cover fails to live up to the title’s promises, potential readers won’t even bother looking inside to see whether the book’s actual contents are going to. If you want to keep a bold title like that on the cover, you need to go for something more exciting and dynamic-looking and in-your-face than this for the rest of the cover.

    One final post-script: did you really intend to include the bleed lines and cutting board instructions on the top and bottom of this image on your cover? I’m assuming you didn’t. If you did, they add nothing to the cover and I recommend cropping them off your next cover image if you do any resubmits.

    1. I do not share Hitch’s opinion of the font, though it does look rather generic. (Of course, all sans serif fonts seem a bit generic to me.) While you might want to experiment with several alternate fonts, your main concern when doing a textbook is that the fonts be immediately accessible and legible. So far, you’ve only got the accessibility covered.

      Yup. That’s my point. This is a book on kicking everyone else’s ass, right? How to out-sell and out-market? Then the font needs to match the claim. Gotta sing, gotta dance, kiddles. And the serif for the tagline? Also must be replaced with something a bit stronger. What about…Euro New Style, for that?

      There are options. I’m just saying that as Adrian also noted, it’s too generic and too bland, if indeed the content is as kick-ass as (intended to be) advertised. I don’t hate this; I just don’t hear it singing to me.

  3. I don’t like it. Mainly because it looks like every book of its type to me. I love the title, but for goodness sake take advantage of it with your graphics. I would start from scratch and take a more light-hearted approach to your art, perhaps even “cartoonish”? I don’t know, but something that makes it stand out in its category. As it stands, based on the cover, it will be a needle in a haystack.

    Good luck and I’d love to see your new design.

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