Branded cookbooks drive sales by showing people how to use your products, giving them ideas for using products in ways they might not have thought of, and by creating passion for a product and company. Cookbooks can also be used to create passion for a destination, such as a restaurant, vacation destination, market, or other venue. Here are a few of my favorite examples.
GOAL: MAKE A PIECE OF COOKWARE UNIVERSAL
I was working as an editor at Time Inc. Books when Lodge decided to work with the division on a cookbook. The Lodge Cast Iron Cookbook, published in 2012, was a hit, and so the company decided to do a second book. But they wanted to address a particular issue with it: Americans often associate cast iron with Southern cooking, and Lodge wanted to show that cast iron cookware is a great medium for cooking all kinds of regional cuisines. The Lodge Cast Iron Nation: Great American Cooking from Coast to Coast (Time Inc. Books, 2014) shows readers that cast iron cooking is for everyone, anywhere. The book features stories and recipes from cooks such as Shauna Ahern, creator of Gluten-Free Girl, Chicago chef and restaurateur Gale Gand, and Lidia Bastianich, restaurateur and author of several Italian cookbooks. The recipes stretch far beyond Southern cuisine and include a Thai-inspired Lemongrass Shrimp. Every recipe starts with a small map of the United States that highlights the region the recipe is from. Lodge's two books preceded a nationwide revival of cast iron cooking, with new generations falling in love with the cookware.
Takeaway: Recipes can do far more than help people get a meal on the table. Use recipes to help people explore and reframe how they think about food and cooking.
GOAL: SHOW HOW VERSATILE AN INGREDIENT CAN BE
Melissa's The Great Pepper Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing and Cooking With Peppers (Time Inc. Books, 2014) helps readers explore the wide variety of peppers available, and shows how versatile peppers can be. The book starts with a guide to fresh and dried peppers that includes the Scoville units (a scale that measures heat level), substitution recommendations, and a guide to prepping peppers for cooking. The recipes are divided by meal category: appetizers, breakfast, soups, salads, mains, and so on. There are recipes for classics like Sausage and Pepper Sandwiches, for sure—but also for Fiery French Toast, made with shishito peppers and maple syrup, and desserts like The Devil’s Favorite Devil’s Food Cake with ancho chile and fresh cayenne peppers.
Takeaway: Giving people multiple ways to use a product can encourage passion and repeat purchases of the product.
GOAL: BUILD PASSION FOR A FOOD AND A DESTINATION
Anyone who’s ever been to Seattle’s Pike Place Market has to stop by Pike Place Fish Market—even if they don’t enjoy seafood—to watch the fishmongers toss fish. (If you’ve never been to Seattle, there’s no need for FOMO—watch their live webcam, Fish Monger Theater.) In the Kitchen with the Pike Place Fish Guys: 100 Recipes and Tips from the World-Famous Crew of Pike Place Fish (Avery, 2013) shares recipes and expert advice for purchasing and preparing seafood, how to store it, and their philosophy on sustainable seafood. The book also shares the very entertaining spirit that draws awe-struck crowds: You'll find illustrated guides to tossing fish throughout the book. It's fun to go through the book and see how the fish mongers execute their fish-flying moves.
Takeaway: Share your magic—the things that make your company unique. You'll build loyalty among your audience and reach new ones.
Brand cookbooks can also be used to share a company’s expertise, tell stories, and build community around a particular set of values. If you’d like to read about some books that are great examples of accomplishing those goals, check out Brand Cookbooks with Awesome Payoffs, Part 1.