From Kindle to grave, there is a wealth of wonderful books all about the art of branding.
But if you’re new to branding, or looking to refresh your campaigns, then you’ll probably need a helping hand to navigate your way through all the smoke.
At Brandit, we’ve asked our team of bookworms about which books have influenced them the most - and which they’d save above all else.
Brand Zag, Marty Neumeier
Marty Neumeier is one of the biggest names the marketing industry, and in 2007 he succeeded in topping the critical acclaim of his monumental The Brand Gap.
Brand Zag, however, focuses on how companies can achieve brand distinction in a crowded market. With customers bombarded with messages every single day, it’s more important than ever that businesses find the tools to stand out from the crowd. So, Marty has done the hard work and provides entrepreneurs with an abundance of information about how to:
Understand their creative vision
Recognise friend from foe
Encourage and cultivate customer loyalty
Communicate with audiences in an effective way
Like a few books in this list too, you’ll manage to polish off this little gem in a few short hours. Perfect.
Takeaway quote: “A brand is a customer’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. People create brands to bring order out of the clutter. If the word ‘brand’ didn’t exist, we’d have to invent a new one, because no other word captures the complexity and richness of this concept. The only other word that comes close is ‘reputation’...”
Do Purpose, David Hieatt
This is a great book for beginners to branding, but also has fantastic advice for anyone looking to flex their entrepreneurial skills and realise their passions.
Read this book if you want to:
Learn how to establish a brand with ‘cold’ passion (‘hot’ passion is, he argues, based on infatuation, rather than longterm commitment)
Condense your brand identity into a few short words
See examples of other great brands
Do Purpose can be easily digested in a few hours (especially if you have a plane journey) and is guaranteed to inspire and enrich your creative skills.
Takeaway quote: “The most important brands in the world make you feel something. They do that because they something they want to change… These companies feel human. The founders tell us how the world could be. They bare their soul to us.”
The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, Al Ries and Laura Ries
Even if you hate rules, this is still an extremely valuable book for newcomers to the ever-evolving world of brands.
There is a particularly good section of the ‘laws’ of digital branding, focussing on how to overcome the barriers of internationality, time, and space to communicate the perfect brand message.
Think of this as the branding equivalent of Bob Burg’s The Go-Giver, which focusses on the ‘laws’ of achieving success in the sales sector.
Sticky Branding, Jeremy Miller
There are a number of obstacles that face brand managers and strategists on a daily basis. But Jeremy Miller has boiled them down into a few key problems, each of which can be overcome with some clever know-how and careful planning.
Read this book if you need to tackle:
Refine your brand essence
Be better than your competitors
Jeremy Miller has a unique advantage of other marketers, however, in that he comes from a sales background - meaning he has a better understanding of what makes customers want to buy than most. He also approaches this book from an SME perspective, rather than offering empty lessons about what small businesses can learn from Apple’s $1bn advertising budget.
You will definitely want to look through this one.
Takeaway quote: “Growing a sticky brand is a choice. It’s a choice to stand out and be remarkable. It’s a choice to build meaningful relationships with your customers. It’s a choice to cut your own path and innovate your industry. It’s a choice to stand out, attract customers, and drive sales.”
Designing Brand Identity, Alina Wheeler
Beautifully written and stunningly put together, Designing Brand Identity has endured plenty of success since its publication in 2009.
This book provides an excellent step-by-step guide to creating a brand that triumphs beyond its competitors, including:
When to begin the process of developing/redefining a brand
How to plan a strategy
How to position your product within its market
How to enhance the customer experience
Takeaway quote: “It is essential for the branding team to look up from the desktop and see the world through the eyes of the customer. Shopping has become a subset to being engaged and entertained. The next disciplinary seismic shift in branding is customer experience: building loyalty and lifelong relationships at each point.”
On Advertising, David Ogilvy
This may be at number 7, but David Oglivy’s On Advertising is arguably the most important book that any marketer or brand strategist will ever read.
Although the book isn’t strictly about branding. Oglivy provides a step-by-step process of carefully executing a range of advertising campaigns. But the real value of this book is that it offers a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of the most influential men in the 20th century. He shares his thoughts on a range of different matters, including why marketers rarely read books about branding (!) and what to do if a copywriter lacks vision.
We could go on about Ogilvy’s book for ages. But there’s no need. Just read it, if you haven’t already.
Branding Only Works on Cattle, Jonathan Salem Baskin
Anyone brave enough to begin their book with the title ‘Your Branding is Useless’ deserves your attention.
Using examples from some of the biggest companies in the world, Baskin demonstrates how easy it is to get branding wrong. And how other organisations can learn lessons from these mistakes to improve their own marketing campaigns.
Branding Only Works on Cattle reads like a breath of fresh air. So we thoroughly recommend you get your hands on a copy now.
Takeaway quote: “Branding is based on an outdated and invalid desire to manipulate and control consumers’ unconscious… Companies do it mostly out of habit and hope, and most consumers endure it out of routine and indulgence. Most branding is a waste of money.”
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, Robert Cialdini
As the last book in this blog so eloquently demonstrates, the ability to effectively persuade others is a serious artform.
But Robert Cialdini takes a different approach to this age-old sentiment and offers marketers a fascinating insight into the role of psychology in consumer purchase habits.
Some of the most interesting snippets from this book include how to utilise reciprocation in selling. But what really sets this book apart from others is its real-life examples, taken from Robert Cialdini’s extensive experience as a Professor at Arizona State University. In the simplest possible ways, he explains how to encourage customers to say “yes” and get them to stay.
Plus, there’s also a great life-lesson for any marketer that wants to learn how to attract customers using insights from the female turkey.
On Rhetoric, Aristotle
They may have been separated by nearly 1500 years, but I believe Aristotle would have full-heartedly agreed with David Ogilvy when he said:
“Every type of advertiser has the same problem: to be believed.”
Of course, the ancient Greeks had no word for advertising. But they would have understood Ogilvy’s underlying principle: if you’re going to step up to the podium and address an audience, you need to give them a reason worth listening to you.
So when Oglivy says that being believed is essential in good marketing, he’s really talking about the way in which brands use rhetoric. Something that Aristotle had plenty of opinions on.
In his monumental On Rhetoric, Aristotle observed that every great oration (or marketing copy, in this instance) must follow three key rules:
Ethos - it should have authority, as demonstrated by the speaker or author.
Pathos - it should appeal to audiences’ emotions and make them feel something
Logos - it should contain a solid argument and follow a logical line of thinking
If you choose to read Aristotle’s work through the inquisitive mind of a brand strategist, then it can reveal invaluable information about how to persuade customers and deliver brand messages that have real resonance.
Take away quote: “Persuasion is achieved by the speaker's personal character when the speech is so spoken as to make us think him credible… Secondly, persuasion may come through the hearers, when the speech stirs their emotions… Thirdly, persuasion is effected through the speech itself when we have proved a truth or an apparent truth by means of the persuasive arguments suitable to the case in question.”