News

Waterstones begins new branding push

Waterstones is rolling out a new branding campaign set to emphasise the benefits of shopping in a physical bookshop and underlining its importance as “the nation’s leading high street bookseller”. The campaign, which launches today (5th October), will include advertising, an exclusive anthology and an in-house magazine.

New posters displayed in-store will carry four different texts: “Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can actually pick them up”; “Even the most ardent reader will never reach the end of a good bookshop”; “Words cannot do justice to the pleasures of a good bookshop. Ironically”; and “A good book will keep you fascinated for days, a bookshop for your whole life”.

The designs will also be used in an advertising campaign on the London Underground and on street billboards nationwide, and in the national press, beginning next week. They will also feature on customer carrier bags, badges and postcards.

Ros Hines, Waterstones’ marketing director, said: “We have a powerful brand, and we should be using that to get over powerful messages that do more than simply promote individual books, but remind people just how good being in a bookshop is, and how important they are—and we are—to the British high street.”

The move comes as the chain retailer prepares to sell Amazon’s Kindle devices in its stores (from 25th October), although none of the advertising is thought to mention Amazon.

Waterstones is also going to release an exclusive anthology of 18 short stories, poems and essays by authors including Sir Max Hastings, Will Self, Victoria Hislop and Anthony Horowitz on the subject of the colour red. Red: A Waterstones Anthology will be released as a red cloth-bound gift-sized hardback in November exclusively in Waterstones stores at £10, and as an e-book sold through Waterstones’ website and through Amazon’s Kindle store for a price still to be confirmed.

Waterstones said it paid “market prices” for the contributions, with the editing done by Cathy Galvin, formerly of the Sunday Times Magazine. Head of Brand Communications, Fiona Allen, said: “We think our customers will love it and we hope it leads to more books of this type from Waterstones in the future.”

The company is also printing 600,000 copies of a one-off free magazine Between the Lines which will be distributed from Waterstones stores, featuring reviews and genre round-ups for the autumn season. The magazine will also be available online.

Marketing strategist Damian Horner said Waterstones’ new branding concentrated on reinforcing its relevance to its customer base, reminding people of the value of a physical bookshop. He praised the slogan “Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can actually pick them up” as being a “good execution” of the central message.

However he questioned the effectiveness of the other phrases, saying: “Waterstones is in a difficult position and I think the time to seduce people just with a feel-good message has gone . . . In this fragile economy people, will sacrifice atmosphere for price.”
 

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The new posters etc are some of the best we've done, a simple message, modern designs and eye-catching. When compared to some of the plain awful, dull stuff we've churned out, these are works of art!

Although I do agree with Damian Horner, the country is in a tough place economically and books are a 'luxury' item so we must keep a tight focus on giving customers a good price or they will shop elsewhere.

The customers who come into my store love physical bookshops, want Waterstones to continue as a presence on the high street but admit they also shop online or in supermarkets if they have the book they want cheaper, because they just can't afford not to.

These are great for the converted, but will they get new people into bookshops? Not sure, although maybe 'activating the base' (to use a timely phrase) will be good enough to start with. What seems to be the lead poster makes a great emotive point eloquently, but perhaps the others are a bit 'knowing'?

And ultimately what's the point in getting people in store when you're going to be diverting a percentage of your customers towards your rivals as soon as they walk in?

“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can actually pick them up”

This is the dumbest marketing campaign in some time. Aside from the meaningless slogans being worse than something any grunt copywriter could come up with, have Waterstones forgotten they sell e-books?

Nul points.

David I actually think this is quite good. Waterstones cant survive as a business if it focuses on e-books, and apple and the e-readers already do that. Waterstones is focusing on the physical books and the bookshop experience which actually makes perfect sense as it is their only point of difference. Amazon had the advert that tried to show how rubbish books were compared to a kindle, so I would argue that actually this is the campaign that makes the most sense for them. I hope you dont work in marketing!

Keep your privacy!
Buy books here anonymously with cash!
What you choose to read is your business - not ours!
In our stores, Big Brother is NOT watching you....

I'm delighted to hear about this move, but I think Waterstones needs to do more. From my perspective, the experience of picking up a book isn't the only thing which makes a bookshop better. It's the whole experience.

I'd like to see Waterstones turn their shop into more of a shopping experience, with later opening hours, more events, more comfy seating areas to get digging in to a good book, and more facilities on tap. Given the huge market segment represented by women above a certain age, many of whom have children, a real, exciting and original children's area where they can play and read would make an enormous difference too.

I think the posters make good points, but that Waterstones has to respond more profoundly to the competitive pressures of the current market. Make the shop a place which feels like a second home, and people will find those books they can't put down.

And buying a new book takes time if it's something you haven't seen advertised, which is part of the unique Waterstones experience. You have to make Waterstones into a destination which people intentionally travel to, willing to spend some time.

I like print books. I like bookshops. I retain *some* regard for Waterstones. I'm all for bookshops trying to come up with clever marketing wheezes. This isn't one. The slogan is terrible and the message is confused. Look it at again:

“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can actually pick them up”

It's a poorly written, overly-general jab at e-books - nothing more. It conveys no message other than the dubious notion that it's easier to find something to read in a physical bookshop. That's something that Kindle owners could easily dispute, given the increasing accuracy of Amazon's automated recommendation engine. Aside from that, it says *nothing* about why people should shop in *Waterstones* in particular.

What are the unique strengths of Waterstones? What do they offer over Amazon? What do they offer over indie bookshops? *That's* the message that a Waterstones marketing campaign should be pushing.

Any number of counter-slogans could be written. Such as:

“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when the store is always open”
“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can shop from home”
“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when the shop has everything in stock, all the time”
“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can sample online for free”

I'm not just having a pop at Waterstones for the sake of it. I really think this is terrible.

And I seriously hope that Waterstones aren't adopting a policy of giving up on digital sales. That will hasten the end more than anything. Print is a shrinking market. Digital is growing rapidly. The market will likely double again over Christmas - and that share is coming from the print end of the market.

While I wish Waterstones well, it's come a cropper by over-flexing its branding muscle. Buyers of the Kindle Paperwhite have been demanding - and getting - refunds after discovering that Paperwhites sold through Waterstones have a branded screensaver on them which the bookstore says can't be removed.

It can, of course, but Amazon UK can't be bothered - which has left Waterstones having to give refunds to people who actually love Kindles and want to keep them, but object to a bookseller sticking its own name on the screen without asking them first.

Read more about this story at the Consumer Inquisitor website at http://www.consumerinquisitor.com

The new posters etc are some of the best we've done, a simple message, modern designs and eye-catching. When compared to some of the plain awful, dull stuff we've churned out, these are works of art!

Although I do agree with Damian Horner, the country is in a tough place economically and books are a 'luxury' item so we must keep a tight focus on giving customers a good price or they will shop elsewhere.

The customers who come into my store love physical bookshops, want Waterstones to continue as a presence on the high street but admit they also shop online or in supermarkets if they have the book they want cheaper, because they just can't afford not to.

And buying a new book takes time if it's something you haven't seen advertised, which is part of the unique Waterstones experience. You have to make Waterstones into a destination which people intentionally travel to, willing to spend some time.

These are great for the converted, but will they get new people into bookshops? Not sure, although maybe 'activating the base' (to use a timely phrase) will be good enough to start with. What seems to be the lead poster makes a great emotive point eloquently, but perhaps the others are a bit 'knowing'?

And ultimately what's the point in getting people in store when you're going to be diverting a percentage of your customers towards your rivals as soon as they walk in?

“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can actually pick them up”

This is the dumbest marketing campaign in some time. Aside from the meaningless slogans being worse than something any grunt copywriter could come up with, have Waterstones forgotten they sell e-books?

Nul points.

David I actually think this is quite good. Waterstones cant survive as a business if it focuses on e-books, and apple and the e-readers already do that. Waterstones is focusing on the physical books and the bookshop experience which actually makes perfect sense as it is their only point of difference. Amazon had the advert that tried to show how rubbish books were compared to a kindle, so I would argue that actually this is the campaign that makes the most sense for them. I hope you dont work in marketing!

I like print books. I like bookshops. I retain *some* regard for Waterstones. I'm all for bookshops trying to come up with clever marketing wheezes. This isn't one. The slogan is terrible and the message is confused. Look it at again:

“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can actually pick them up”

It's a poorly written, overly-general jab at e-books - nothing more. It conveys no message other than the dubious notion that it's easier to find something to read in a physical bookshop. That's something that Kindle owners could easily dispute, given the increasing accuracy of Amazon's automated recommendation engine. Aside from that, it says *nothing* about why people should shop in *Waterstones* in particular.

What are the unique strengths of Waterstones? What do they offer over Amazon? What do they offer over indie bookshops? *That's* the message that a Waterstones marketing campaign should be pushing.

Any number of counter-slogans could be written. Such as:

“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when the store is always open”
“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can shop from home”
“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when the shop has everything in stock, all the time”
“Books you can’t put down are much easier to find when you can sample online for free”

I'm not just having a pop at Waterstones for the sake of it. I really think this is terrible.

And I seriously hope that Waterstones aren't adopting a policy of giving up on digital sales. That will hasten the end more than anything. Print is a shrinking market. Digital is growing rapidly. The market will likely double again over Christmas - and that share is coming from the print end of the market.

Keep your privacy!
Buy books here anonymously with cash!
What you choose to read is your business - not ours!
In our stores, Big Brother is NOT watching you....

I'm delighted to hear about this move, but I think Waterstones needs to do more. From my perspective, the experience of picking up a book isn't the only thing which makes a bookshop better. It's the whole experience.

I'd like to see Waterstones turn their shop into more of a shopping experience, with later opening hours, more events, more comfy seating areas to get digging in to a good book, and more facilities on tap. Given the huge market segment represented by women above a certain age, many of whom have children, a real, exciting and original children's area where they can play and read would make an enormous difference too.

I think the posters make good points, but that Waterstones has to respond more profoundly to the competitive pressures of the current market. Make the shop a place which feels like a second home, and people will find those books they can't put down.

While I wish Waterstones well, it's come a cropper by over-flexing its branding muscle. Buyers of the Kindle Paperwhite have been demanding - and getting - refunds after discovering that Paperwhites sold through Waterstones have a branded screensaver on them which the bookstore says can't be removed.

It can, of course, but Amazon UK can't be bothered - which has left Waterstones having to give refunds to people who actually love Kindles and want to keep them, but object to a bookseller sticking its own name on the screen without asking them first.

Read more about this story at the Consumer Inquisitor website at http://www.consumerinquisitor.com