10 Best Books on Branding No Branding Designer Should Miss
Improve your branding skills and stay ahead of the curve with these top 10 must-read books for brand designers.
Branding is no longer just about making products stand out. In this modern, highly competitive market, branding can make or break a business and is responsible for everything from creating an emotional impact on customers to forming an identity for the company. With such high stakes, it’s no wonder that design has become an over one hundred billion dollar industry and that designers are in high demand.
But it can be hard to remain relevant in such a populated and fast-moving field. To stay successful, a good brand designer should have a foundation of valuable skills that they’re willing to build off from in the long term, learning more whenever they’re able and always being on the lookout for new perspectives and inspiration. Reading books by experts in the field can be a great way to allow designers to gain insights and stay on top of trends.
Book 1. Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter
Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You by John Hall
Hall co-founded Influence & Co., a thriving content marketing agency that focuses on creating collaborative experiences for customers. In Top of the Mind, Hall outlines the company's step-by-step process to help make brands stand out and use specific content marketing strategies at the head of the pack.
Book 2. Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits
Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman
Brand Thinking is a unique title by Debbie Millman, co-founder of the world’s first branding graduate program. The book takes a comprehensive and multi-faceted approach to marketing by using each chapter to delve into the mind of different experts in the field, including big names such as Malcolm Gladwell, Wally Olins, Seth Godin, and more. Using these interviews, Brand Thinking explores consumers' motivations to understand their buying habits better.
Book 3. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message, So Customers Will Listen
Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message, So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
We highly recommend Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, CEO of the titular marketing company, for insights into brand messaging. For years, StoryBrand has held popular workshops and conferences. Still, the book puts into words the seven critical elements of telling a story to create a comprehensive brand message and connect with clients.
Book 4. The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value
The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value by Thomas Barta & Patrick Barwise
This book brings together the knowledge of Thomas Barta, a former McKinsey partner, and Patrick Barwise, a senior professor of management and marketing at the London Business School. However, the 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader is a treasure trove of information based on the authors’ experiences and those of over 8,000 leaders worldwide. In this research, the duo found 12 recurring behaviors that impacted career success and presented these findings through this book for marketers everywhere to use to their benefit.
Book 5. Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company's Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible
Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company's Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible by Gregory Diehl
After working decades to help small businesses grow, Gregory V. Diehl brings his years of experience to this helpful book on crafting and implementing a company identity with intelligent strategies. Using real-life success stories as examples, Brand Identity Breakthrough helps outline how businesses can set themselves apart, making it a great inspiration for any company or designer.
Book 6. Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets
Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, Kevin Maney
Written by the four founders of Play Bigger Advisors, Play Bigger addresses reimaging what already exists and is trailblazing in an already highly innovative market. An indispensable and inspiring work on thinking outside the box, the book backs up its insights with research on some of the needs of big hitters like Amazon and Uber and how they became the giants they are today by carving out their categories.
Book 7. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team
Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler
If you read only one book on this list, it should probably be this one. Designing Brand Identity is the ultimate guidebook for designers, covering over 100 branding subjects, and was one of the first books to break down the process into an easier-to-understand five-part method.
Book 8. This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See
This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin
Almost any of Seth Godin’s 19 bestselling books will be ripe with inspiration for a designer, but Marketing is a prevalent one that focuses on creating connections and trusts with consumers. Having been inducted into not one, not two, but three marketing halls of fame, Godin is one of the biggest names in the industry and is a go-to source of insight that every designer should know.
Book 9. Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing To 100 Million Users - And Losing $78 Million
Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing To 100 Million Users - And Losing $78 Million by Cliff Lerner
This is your book if you want to be inspired about growing a small business into a million-dollar corporation. Cliff Lerner, co-founder and former CEO of software and social media company Snap Interactive, takes a no-holds-barred approach to telling the story of his company’s success and all the failures there were along the way. In Explosive Growth, Lerner provides excellent lessons about successful marketing strategies and tells an engaging story, making it an exciting and intellectual read.
Book 10. Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
You might have heard of Simon Sinek’s incredibly popular Ted Talk of the same name, but Start with Why is an even deeper look at how brands seek their purpose and understand what they’re doing. If you aren’t one of the millions who’ve already read this powerful book, it’s about time you did.
Trends in the marketing industry come and go in the blink of an eye. But with the right tried-and-true tools, a designer can weather the storm of any fad and find their place in this increasingly competitive field. The best way to build up this toolkit is with the advice of experts who know the strategies that have stood the test of time. With these books and their wisdom, any designer will feel more prepared to understand customers' needs and how to fulfill them in the best and most innovative ways.