The very foundation of your marketing strategy begins with branding. This is how you connect to your potential customers, make a memorable impression on them, and distinguish yourself from competitors.
However, branding can be really complicated- and the more services and products you offer, the more complicated it can get. You may find yourself doing extensive research to develop a clear strategy. At the end of the day, despite all of your efforts, the only measure of your success is if your customers closely identify with your brand.
To make the branding process as easy as possible for you, we’ve compiled a collection of the best branding books for you to learn from. These books cover a range of branding topics, with everything from establishing a brand for the first time to rebranding to visual identity design to managing multiple brands. If you need to learn the basics, these books have got you covered. Equally, if you want to get into all the nitty gritty sub-areas of branding, they dive into to those topics too.
You’re sure to learn something that will help you develop your branding identity and strategy. After all, each of these books is adored by us here at Cubicle Ninjas, and we like to think we’ve done a good job with our branding!
Top 12 Branding Books Loved by Ninjas
Concept & Strategy
1. Building Strong Brands by David Aaker
Among branding books, this is an absolute classic. Although it has roots in academia, it offers basic principles that are practical enough to incorporate into your branding. David Aaker also uses real life examples to illustrate the breadth of concepts that can be especially complicated to understand.
He covers the twin topics of brand identity and brand position, in addition to brand systems, practical management, and brand equity. This book has something for everyone to learn from.
2. Building Brand Authenticity: 7 Habits of Iconic Brands by Michael Beverland
Michael Beverland is another academically oriented author who is extremely knowledgeable about marketing and branding. This is an especially “academic” book, but Beverland does provide real life examples and advice.
This book is focused on defining brand authenticity, why it’s important, and how to apply its principles to your marketing. The best part of this book is the action guide for brand managers.
If your brand, large or small, has trouble remembering who they are at their roots and feel confused about their identity, this book is certain to help you rediscover yourself as a company.
3. Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman
This book is a little different than most, as it is actually a compilation of twenty interviews with the world’s top designers and thinkers in branding as opposed to a narrative by the author. You’ll learn about different theories as to how and why the world uses branding, and ideas, inventions, and insights as to what makes for impactful brands.
4. Do Good: Embracing Brand Citizenship to Fuel Both Purpose and Profit by Anne Bahr Thompson
This is an easier read as it provides lots of insight, examples, and practical tips for creating brands with purpose. “Do Good” is best suited to entrepreneurs or brand managers that consumers to perceive their products and services as more meaningful- without sacrificing profits.
5. Hello My Name is Awesome by Alexandra Watkins
This is a fun read chock-full of tips and ideas for creating powerful and memorable brand names… including a few examples that resemble a “drunken Scrabble game”.
Watkins keeps it simple and offers actionable ideas to effect memorable and brand-worthy brand names, offering plenty of examples along the way. We recommend this book to those who want to name a brand-new company or a new product or service.
6. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
If you really want to stand out and distinguish yourself from other companies, you need this book. It’s dedicated to brand positioning and has become a classic for learning about it. The authors provide an abundance of case studies and subsequent analyses of the best rises and falls in advertising history. You will learn about how to use leading ad agency techniques in your work, build your strategy around a competitor’s weakness, reposition strong competitors, use your present position, choose the best brand name, and analyze trends affecting your positioning.
It’s an oldie but a goodie- this framework for creating branding strategies is pretty much timeless, which has kept readers coming back to this book time and time again.
7. Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand by Jeremy Miller
Are you a medium sized business with a marketing budget? If so, this book was made for you. Sticky Branding describes how mid-market companies are and growing sticky brands despite resource constraints. If they can do it, you can do it too.
8. Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller
Companies everywhere struggle with this one straightforward question: What exactly do you do? This may refer to what services and products you offer, but it’s asking for more than just a list. Searching for purpose and necessity, this question probes into the very core of your company. If you might struggle to formulate a response, perhaps this book is right for you.
Miller teaches readers how to communicate their brand with clarity above all. It is essential that potential consumers can not only hear you but understand you. He also shares why it is crucial to make the consumer the hero of the story.
Brand Visual Identity Design
9. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler
This book is staged as an introduction to brand identity design that is both business owner and marketer friendly. Wheeler outlines best practices and design processes that you can begin to apply to your own work. She also features insights from a handful of gurus in the branding world.
Her book follows a five-phase process, including conducting research, clarifying strategy, designing identity, creating touchpoints, and managing assets to walk you from laying the foundations to launch. It’s a comprehensive source of information for anyone involved in any aspect of the branding process.
10. Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities by David Airey
This book is intended for more experienced graphic designers and brand visual identity experts, but it can also be useful for beginners if they’re up for a challenge. Airey, a graphic designer, walks you through the process of logo design with real-life examples, problems, and decisions. He also provides ideas and solutions so that if you do ever face a situation outlined in the book, you have an idea of how to handle it appropriately.
Airey shares his own personal experiences of working with clients, including sketches and final results so you feel like you’re alongside him every step of the way. He will teach you why one logo is more effective than others, how to create an iconic design, and what sets excellent designers apart from the pack.
11. The Future of Packaging: From Linear to Circular by Tom Szaky
Sometimes your packaging is the only branding feature that a consumer interacts with. For example, if they’re in a store selecting a product without any prior knowledge, how you package your product is the only branding they get. This can determine whether you or your competitor gets their cash.
Not only is packaging important for sales and profits, it is also a major issue in sustainability discussions. Most products use single use packaging that goes directly to the landfill. Instead, Szaky describes a circular economy that limits waste, not to mention overconsumption.
Overall, this book provides a lot of food for thought, both in terms of cultivating your own knowledge and inspiring you to take action towards more sustainable branding.
12. Brand Portfolio Strategy by David Aaker
This book is most useful for those managing larger brands, especially those with sub-brands and/or brand extensions. Aaker is certainly an academic writer, but he offers a lot of value by detailing the scope, roles, and interconnections between many brands.
As you can see, there is a wealth of branding reading available. This is just a small (but mighty!) sample of what’s out there. We’ve covered the classic branding books, like Building Strong Brands by David Aaker, and introduced new and innovative ways of thinking about branding from the experts themselves, like in Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman. Each of these branding books offers different and valuable information that has the potential to improve your branding strategy. Remember that not only you, but your entire team can benefit from being more knowledgeable about branding. Who knows what key insight may be just around the corner! Did we miss one of your favorite branding books? Let us know in the comments below!
Looking for More Design Insights?
Learn How to Choose the Right Brand Name or check out Color Theory for Marketers!
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