In this guide we intend to provide you with a comprehensive list of branding books and authors that will help you if you are an entrepreneur, creative or strategist. We explore some of the more well known brand experts and authors like Marty Neumeier, Donald Miller and Simon Sinek. However, with some of our other selections we have tried to be a little more progressive. We believe that we have put together a collection of branding books & branding authors which will provide you with a broad range of practical insight. Whether you are just starting out on your branding journey, an entrepreneur wanting to bridge the knowledge gap or an experienced strategist we are sure you will find something in our collection that will help you refine your understanding and knowledge.
What is a branding book and how will it help me or my business?
There are really two types of branding books.
- Theory based branding books
- Practical branding books
Theory based branding books are typically written by branding experts that share insights and principles based on their professional experiences. It provides a perspective from the author who is likely to be very successful within their chosen industry. We find that theory based books are great at providing deep level insights and understanding as to how they’ve overcome certain brand building challenges. Theory based books are a really great way at building up your knowledge and understanding of brand strategy. For example if you want to learn about the core principles of branding then a good starting point would be a book like The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier. No matter what your level of expertise is there is such a huge range of theory based branding books that can provide you with really great insights.
Practical branding books share insight but also practical information that is going to help with the design and implementation required to build, develop and launch a brand. These books are really great as they can help you to build the processes required to develop and launch a successful brand. These books are particularly helpful as they tend to break things down on a more granular level. For example you can find books on naming, strategy, how to launch, storytelling, positioning and differentiation just to name a few.
So, if you are on a journey to develop insight or knowledge (personally) or you wish to have the technical ‘know-how’ specifically for implementation there is no doubt you will find our curated list of branding books and branding authors super helpful!
So without further ado let’s get started.
Best Branding Books By Alina Wheeler
Alina Wheeler is the author of the branding book ‘Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, 5th Edition’. Having sold over 150,000+ copies the book has been a tremendous success.
Alina has always had a passion for helping people and businesses understand how they position themselves in the minds of their customers. Alina has a wealth of experience consulting core brand principles, best practices and determining the key performance indicators and success factors.
Having worked with hundreds of public and private companies Alina has great experience and knows exactly what it takes to build a successful brand.
The book is predominantly aimed at founders, entrepreneurs and marketing individuals that are responsible for the brand development within a company. It covers much of the fundamentals and core principles when it comes to branding.
The book has a strong focus on brand touchpoints and understanding how you can create compelling experiences consistently across multiple channels. The most recent version (5th edition) provides valuable insights to the branding process and explores a five phase methodology.
Instagram Handle: @alinawheeler
Best Branding Books by Donald Miller
Donald Miller is the man behind the company StoryBrand. Year on year they continue to help business leaders clarify their brand positioning and more importantly their brand message. Donald Miller has written a number of books, many of which have been New York Times ‘Best Sellers’.
Not only is Donald Miller a best selling author and business owner, he is also an incredibly talented public speaker. Donald Miller’s experience spans from working with brands such as Pantene, Ford, Intel, Prime Lending and many more.
Donald Miller first came on our radar when we came across the book Building A Story Brand. On the cover of the book it says; “Clarify your message so customers will listen”. The idea being that businesses adopt a new way of communicating to their customers. A way which breaks the norm and traditions especially when you consider how businesses typically communicate with their customers.
The book is intended for business owners, entrepreneurs and marketing or brand professionals that are responsible for the implementation of brand strategy and positioning. The aim of the book is to provide the insight and knowledge required to understand how a storytelling communication framework can help position your brand far more effectively amongst your customers. It provides fantastic insights that when implemented successfully enable you to gain competitive advantage over your competitors.
As you work through the book it provides actionable steps and an online working environment that helps to collate your thoughts and notes. The framework helps to create the clarity you need to simplify your brand message. It also walks you through the most effective ways to create content for customer testimonials, your website and even social media.
We highly recommend this book!
Instagram Handle: @donaldmiller
Best Branding Books by Fabian Geyrhalter
Fabian is the founder of a brand consultancy named Finien which is based in Los Angeles. Finien is a disruptive consultancy that has really torn up the rule book when it comes to brand strategy and more importantly the ideas around process and implementation. Fabian has experience working with brands such as Honeywell, Randstad, Marriot International and Warner Brothers.
Alongside his consultancy, when not writing books or recording his branding podcast ‘Hitting The Mark’ Fabian can be found on stage delivering keynote speeches. In doing so Fabian shares his insights, knowledge and personal experience when it comes to building a successful brand.
Fabian is a columnist for Forbes and has also contributed to publications such as Inc, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post and Entrepreneur. Fabian has written three books on branding and we are going to take a look at each of them.
How to Launch a Brand (2nd Edition): Your Step-by-Step Guide to Crafting a Brand: From Positioning to Naming And Brand Identity.
This book is a practical guide which will help you to navigate the required and necessary steps to build a brand from the ground up. The book explores the challenges that most entrepreneurs and marketers face when going to market and launching a brand.
It highlights how design is integral to your brands success especially when it comes to differentiation, look and feel and communication. This book will help to guide you on your way to a successful brand launch.
Bigger Than This:How to turn any venture into an admired brand
In this book Fabian looks deeper into why some brands really capture the hearts and minds of their customers. Looking at commodity products and services this book provides insights that will help brands to build more human and emotional connections with their customers.
The book breaks down 8 common traits of brands that have created something that goes beyond a product or service offering. The traits are detailed as follows; Story, Belief, Cause, Heritage, Delight, Transparency, Solidarity and Individuality. The book provides actionable insights that encourages businesses to position themselves in such a way that will resonate on a more personal and human level with their customers.
The Brand Therapy Book: Key branding lessons to save time and money while winning hearts and minds.
This book is most definitely the smallest brand book we’ve come across. The book is broken down into a collection of short brand insights that fall into three categories. The categories are as follows; Brand Strategy, Visual Clarity and Verbal Clarity. This little branding book is great for bite sized insights and little reminders on how to continually build, improve and develop your brand.
Instagram Handle: @_finien_
Best Branding Books by Jerome Conlon & Langdon Morris
The unique experience of the two authors is what makes this a really interesting branding book to read. Jerome Conlon has over 30 years of brand experience that notably first started working with Nike (which from what we understand was way before there were any official brand or marketing departments). Jerome is the former global director of brand and marketing at Nike, vice president of brand and marketing at Starbucks and also held senior marketing positions at NBC entertainment.
Langdon Morris is an award winning innovator and world renowned innovation consultant. He is considered globally to be one of the leading thinkers on innovation. Langdon Morris is now a senior partner at Innovation Labs LLC a global innovation consulting firm.
The authors collaboration came about because Langdon Morris had approached Jerome in the hope that he would read and give feedback on his own book ‘Business Model Warfare’. In doing so Jerome realised that he had so much more to share on the subject of branding. The two came together and decided that they would write The Brand Bridge. It is essentially Jerome Conlon’s ideas and experiences that have then been understood and edited by Langdon Morris.
The Brand Bridge:How to build a profound connection between your company, your brand and your customers.
The book is broken down into six parts and each part provides really in depth insights relevant to the section you are reading. The book draws on much of Jerome Conlons experiences; it also provides super in-depth insight into the practical side of building and implementing a compelling brand strategy. We have read many branding books and we would go as far to say that this one is by far one of the most technical we’ve come across. For some readers that may put them off but if you like to learn and are looking for deep insights then this will be for you.
The six sections this book covers is as follows:
Part 1:The brand bridge
Part 2: Advanced Brand Management Techniques
Part 3: Brand Exemplars
Part 4: Creating brand breakthroughs at Nike and Starbucks
Part 5: Mastering Brand Strategy
Part 6: Brand Transformation
The book has really been written to highlight how little businesses actually take time to look inwards. Conlon firmly believes that the deeper you go and further down that introspective path you travel, the more able you are to understand and create a brand story that is more relevant and resonates with your ideal customers.
Jerome Conlon uses this phrase which we really loved “every industry has pretty much left the emotional ground vacant”. If more brands are able to adopt the research and follow the framework set out within the brand bridge then it will be highly rewarding for your brand and business.
Best Branding Books by Marty Neumeier
Where do we actually start with Marty Neumeier!! Marty Neumeier is considered to be ‘the godfather’ when it comes to anything to do with branding or brand strategy. We could have dedicated this whole blog post to Marty and run through his extensive list of books that he has written on the topic of branding.
Marty Neumeier actually started his career as a graphic designer and copywriter in the 70’s. In the mid 80’s he moved to Silicon Valley where he built relationships and his experience working with the likes of Apple, Netscape, HP, Adobe and Google.
In the 90’s Marty had launched a design think-tank called Neutron which later merged with a business named Liquid Agency. Marty is the Director of CEO Branding and works with leaders and executives globally. Marty also continues to write and speak around brand strategy, design and business.
Marty has authored a number of books which we will look at in more detail. A number of his books have been developed in what he has called a ‘whiteboard’ style and further to that an online presentation of his first book has been viewed more than 22 million times!!! Incredible! We’ve hand-picked some of our favourite books of Marty’s and the shortlist is as follows;
The Brand Gap
The Brand Gap is one of the first ever branding books we ever set hands on. If you are just learning about brand strategy then this is a really good starting point. This book is set out in a whiteboard format which means you can work through the information swiftly. It would likely take you 2 – 3 hours to work your way through this book and in doing so will cover things such as;
• the new definition of brand
• the five essential disciplines of brand-building
• how branding is changing the dynamics of competition
• the three most powerful questions to ask about any brand
• why collaboration is the key to brand-building
• how design determines a customer’s experience
• how to test brand concepts quickly and cheaply
• the importance of managing brands from the inside
• 220-word brand glossary
Zag: The #1 Strategy of High Performance Brands
Zag is another book from Marty in this whiteboard style which breaks the information down into really digestible sections. Just like The Brand Gap it is likely to be a 2 – 3 hour read from cover to cover but in this book Marty really looks to delve deeper into brand positioning and differentiation. As markets and industries become increasingly more crowded, being different simply isn’t enough anymore. Marty explores ideas of radical differentiation and covers topics such as;
• why me-too brands are doomed to fail
• how to “read” customer feedback on new products and messages
• the 17 steps for designing “difference” into your brand
• how to turn your brand’s “onliness” into a “trueline” to drive synergy
• the secrets of naming products, services, and companies
• the four deadly dangers faced by brand portfolios
• how to “stretch” your brand without breaking it
• how to succeed at all three stages of the competition cycle
Meta Skills:Five talents for the future of work
In a world where many of us can feel disconnected, this branding book looks to provide insight and actionable learning which will help you to develop 5 meta skills that will help you to thrive in a digital age. This book is quite different from the previous two we’ve already mentioned. The content is more in-depth but what is really great about this book is that it looks at a multitude of complex issues and challenges then breaks it down in a way that is easy to understand. The book is structured with the following sections;
• The Mandate
• The 5 Meta Skills
This is a pretty thought provoking book and certainly took us a couple of reads to fully understand some of the points Marty Neumeier was making. As digital and technology (the metaverse) continues to progress rapidly Marty Neumeier calls on us to take action, by understanding how creativity, design and the metaskills principles can help advance us into the future.
The Brand Flip: Why customers now run companies and how to profit from it
The Brand Flip is back in the familiar ‘whiteboard’ style that we are all so used to seeing with a Marty Neumeier branding book. This time the book is a little bigger in its overall shape and size but the essence of it is the same, you will likely get through this book in 2-3 hours of reading.
The book explores the shift that has happened which has handed all the power of ‘your brand future’ to your audience (customers) or ‘tribe’ as Marty likes to call it. The book walks you through the steps you need to take in order to navigate your own brand flip and build a brand that goes far beyond a product or service. People want to feel part of something and if you are not able to understand what meaning people attach to your brand then you’re going to find it very difficult to ‘Flip’.
We really love this book. It provides great insight and lots of actionable takeaways too. The book is broken down into the following parts;
Part 1: Flipping the brand
Part 2: Leading the tribe
Part 3: Designing the way forward
Scramble is different for two reasons. Firstly it is not in the whiteboard style that we are so used to when reading a branding book by Marty Neumeier. Secondly, it has been written as a business thriller.
The premise of the book is that the board of directors and company chairman explain to the CEO of the company that they are losing patience and he now only has 5 weeks to turn things around otherwise he will be out of a job.
The harsh reality is that based on his experience everything he has tried has failed and therefore in order to change things around in such a short period of time he has no option but to try something new. Much of the story looks to provide insight on the five Q’s of strategy and the five P’s of design thinking. It highlights how a more agile and collaborative approach can and will change the outcome of the brand.
Without sounding like a broken record this is another fan favourite for us. If you are looking to understand the agile principles to brand building then this is definitely a good branding book for you to read.
Instagram Handle: @marty_neumeier
Best Branding Books by Michael Johnson
Michael Johnson has been publicly recognised as one of the 10 most notable British Designers by The independent Newspaper. Not only that The Guardian also included him in a list of the UK’s top 50 designers. Michal Johnson set up his design practice in the 90’s (Johnson Banks) and over the years has won many prestigious design awards for the work they produce. Michael Johnson has 7 Yellow 1 Black and more recently a gold lifetime achievement award from D&AD, truly extraordinary.
Johnson Banks is most well known for the work it does helping businesses to define brands that really want to make a difference in the world. Helping to shape brands and campaigns that will shift perception, challenge the status quo and most importantly change lives. The work that they do is truly on a global scale and some of the most impactful of its kind.
Branding in 5 and a half steps
This is an incredibly practical book that shares lots of theory but also actionable insights that will really help and support you to build a brand from the ground up. As you would expect the book is broken down into five and a half steps. What we really like about this book is how it breaks down each step and blends the theory and brand principles with working examples and then tasks and calls to action that really do help. What we also love about this book is the illustrations and design examples featured within the book as it really provides context to the theory and principles behind branding.
This is a heavyweight when it comes to branding books and one we would really recommend reading if you are a strategist or designer. The book is broken down into the following sections:
(2) Strategy & Narrative
(2.5) Bridging the gap
(5) Engage or Revive
Instagram Handle: @johnson_banks_design
Best Branding Books by Phil Knight
Shoe Dog: A memoir by the creator of Nike
Phil Knight is known as the founder of the global phenomenon that is Nike. The book follows Phil Knight’s journey as a young entrepreneur and provides an honest perspective on the challenges that small businesses face when trying to build a brand.
This book isn’t a practical guide and we wouldn’t necessarily say that it is a book that goes deeply into brand principles. What it is though is a great account of how you can take a simple business idea and transform it into a global brand and business.
The book provides insight into how a simple mission was formed which was essentially to import high quality sports shoes at a low cost from Japan. The book explores Knight’s story as he travels around the country selling trainers from the boot of his car.
To think that in its first year the business turned over $8000. Nike now regularly hits annual sales figures in the region of $30 billion dollars. It really is quite an incredible story.
There is no doubt that Nike is one of the most successful and recognisable brands in the world. Throughout his career Phil Knight generally kept himself out of the spotlight and this book is the first time we really get to hear the story from the man himself.
Nike was always so much more than a pair of athletic shoes. Knight was on a mission and created a vision and culture that people could align themselves with and wanted to be part of it. In doing so they built a brand that really did change the world.
Instagram Handle: @Nike
Best Branding Books by Radim Malinic
Book of Branding: A guide to creating brand identity for startups and beyond
We wanted to include this branding book because it is really helpful if you are an agency or studio owner. It provides detailed insights into strategy, presentations and even more complex things like copyright laws. This book is a must read if you run a brand studio or may even be considering launching your own one day.
Radim Malinic is well known for being the creative director of the creative brand agency called Brand Nu. They have an exceptional client list from the likes of Harry Potter, Decleor, Adidas and Dolby.
Book of branding shares insight into the world of brand identity design. Radim Malinic provides a perspective from someone that actually has experience navigating the challenges of a branding project. Throughout the book there are case study examples from projects that Malinic has been involved in. The book also provides helpful and actionable advice that will help creatives and designers of all abilities (whether you’re just starting out or a seasoned creative).
If you’re looking for a book that provides great insight on brand identity design in a tone of voice that is uncomplicated and free of marketing jargon then you will definitely enjoy this book.
Instagram Handle: @radim.malinic
Best Branding Books by Simon Sinek
Does this man really need an introduction? As you may already know, Simon Sinek basically broke the internet when he delivered his ‘Start with Why’ keynote.
For those that haven’t been living on planet earth the last 10+ years and may have missed this then you will definitely want to take a look at the video below:
Simon Sinek helps business leaders, entrepreneurs and businesses to build culture that will inspire those around them. Simon believes in a world where people are inspired to do what it is they love and more importantly what inspires them. In doing so people find their own purpose (their own why) and actively change their world for the better.
Sinek strives for businesses to do better, to develop and transform company cultures to create better working environments, places of work that actively put their people first. In 2022 it almost seems strange typing this that there are still companies out there that unfortunately don’t share the same views and values as Simon Sinek and unfortunately culture is non-existent or even worst could even be toxic.
Research carried out by Sinek uncovered that some of the biggest brands in the world communicate in a much different way to those around them. With over 37+ million views start with why is by far one of the most viewed Ted Talks of all time.
Start with why: How great leaders inspire everyone to take action
This has to be a must read book for entrepreneurs, strategists and creatives.
It should go without saying this is one of those books that really opened up a host of new ideas and really got the creative juices flowing. The book provides deep insight and understanding why some brands are way more successful than others and it largely comes down to how they communicate.
The book provides plenty of innovative ideas and insights that are a necessary requirement when developing a strong brand image. If you watched the Ted Talk and felt inspired then we are sure you will find the book even more uplifting. It provides real world examples that are relatable and also ideas and principles around The Golden Circle. If you are struggling to communicate your mission and vision then Start with Why will certainly give you a leg up and help you on your journey.
The book is broken down into 6 parts as follows;
Part 1: A world that doesn’t start with why
Part 2: An alternative perspective
Part 3: Leaders need a following
Part 4: How to rally those who believe
Part 5: The biggest challenge is success
Part 6: Discover Why
It goes without saying we really love this book.
Instagram Handle: @simonsinek
So there you have it, there is our comprehensive list of branding books and brand authors. We have covered a range of branding books so whether you are just starting out on your branding journey or are an experienced professional or entrepreneur we’re sure you will find something suitable for you.
If you enjoyed this blog post then you may want to take a look at some of our other posts.
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