Branding a business is one of the most intangible things we do as marketers. The act of branding a business is more than just creating a logo with a minimalist font and a memorable tagline. Ultimately, branding is about creating a feeling that resonates with your customers.
The Best Books on Branding
Here are the 10 best books on branding that don’t actually talk about the tactical side of branding a business. Why not dive into the technical side of branding? Because you should hire a specialist to handle that. These books are meant to help marketing leaders communicate their brand’s core identity more effectively with a branding expert, their customers, and the company itself.
“Start With Why” by Simon Sinek
Any person or organization can explain what they do; some can explain how they are different or better; but very few can clearly articulate why. The Golden Circle is one of the most innovative concepts in marketing in the last 20 years. So many businesses focus on what they do instead of why they do it. Customers connect with your why on a much deeper level than they’ll ever connect with your what. Simon’s “Start With Why” TED talk is worth 18 minutes of your time but this book drills deep into something a short TED talk just doesn’t have the time for.
“Buyer Personas” by Adele Revella
The best way to understand what people want is to get to know them. Businesses are beginning to re-embrace this truth, and are realizing that Big Data reveals only part of the customer’s story. This book is a how-to guide for marketers who want to implement buyer-expert marketing effectively. One of the Laws of Marketing we preach at High Beam Marketing is to know who your customer is and this book by Adele will help your team figure it out.
“The Thank You Economy” by Gary Vaynerchuk
The Internet, where the Thank You Economy was born, has given consumers back their voice, and the tremendous power of their opinions via social media means that companies and brands have to compete on a whole different level than they used to. The companies that win in this new age won’t be the ones who have the most money to spend on advertising campaigns but instead will be the ones who prove they care about their customers more than anyone else.
“Purple Cow” by Seth Godin
Marketers for years have talked about the five Ps of marketing. There are more than five but everyone has their favorites. Some of them include:
Marketing isn’t guaranteed to work, but the way things used to be, if you got all your Ps right, you were more likely to succeed. The Ps aren’t enough anymore. The new P could be. It’s time for your brand to become a Purple Cow. According to Seth, this book is about the why, the what, and the how of being remarkable as a company. Remember that something remarkable is worth remarking on (aka talking about).
“Influence” by Robert B. Cialdini, PH.D.
Robert mentions that we live in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment. To deal with it, we need shortcuts. That is where the six levers of influence come into play. In order for your brand to be effective you have to incorporate one or more of these into your branding efforts.
“Unreasonable Hospitality” by Will Guidara
What could happen if we were unreasonable in our pursuits of serving people? Will is the former owner of Eleven Madison Park, a three Michelin star restaurant. The legendary restaurant became iconic for delivering extraordinary hospitality through its campaign to spread joy. Does your business have a customer service plan that would be worthy of three Michelin stars? This book will inspire you to create one.
“Contagious” by Jonah Berger
In this book, Berger reveals the secret science behind word-of-mouth and social transmission. Discover how six basic principles drive all sorts of things to become contagious, from products and services to policy initiatives to YouTube videos. If no one shares your brand for you then your brand simply doesn’t exist. Make sure they share it by following the plan laid out in this book.
“Buyology” by Martin Lindstrom
What truly influences our decisions in today’s message-cluttered world? This book unpacks Martin’s three-year, seven-million-dollar neuromarketing study that peered inside the brains of 2,000 volunteers from all around the world as they encountered various ads, logos, commercials, brands, and products. Understanding why people buy is imperative before you create a brand that they will be buying from.
“Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim & Renée Mauborgne
There is nothing new under the sun but you can be different. In this book, Kim & Mauborgne give you the blueprint to create a brand that swims in a blue ocean instead of a red ocean. This book presents a systematic approach to making the competition irrelevant. The six principles show how to reconstruct market boundaries, focus on the big picture, reach beyond existing demand, get the strategic sequence right, overcome organizational hurdles, and build execution into strategy. The world doesn’t need another brand that they already have. How will yours be different?
“The Power of Moments” by Chip & Dan Heath
While human lives are endlessly variable, our most memorable positive moments are dominated by four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. If we embrace these elements, we can conjure more moments that matter. If your brand creates moments that matter for your customers then they will be more than happy to share that experience for you for free with all of their friends via word-of-mouth marketing.
Honorable Mention From Branding Expert Brad Imburgia
“The Brand Gap” and "Zag" by Marty Neumier
Brad is the owner of Ember Brand Co. and a friend of the High Beam Marketing organization. Ember Brand Co. focuses on making branding simple, effective, and undeniably awesome. He recommended that everyone grab a copy of Marty Neumier's classic branding books "The Brand Gap" and "Zag." These books are more on the technical side of branding a business but are definitely worth the read.
Brad also recommends reading the stories of those who founded famous brands. Some great options he recommends include "Shoe Dog" by Phil Knight, "Jobs" by Walter Isaacson, or "Open" by Andre Agassi. He says when you can understand why the founders of big brands did what they did, you can figure out why their brands do what they do.
A Brand is Simply the Stories Our Customers Tell
Branding agencies like to make branding complicated but it really isn’t. A brand is simply the way that we make people feel and how people express those feelings through stories. If you get enough people telling enough positive stories about your brand then you’ll have a great brand. If those stories switch to a negative light (I'm looking at you Spirit Airlines) then you will have a bad brand.
Branding is an evolving mix of art and science. As you dive into these branding books, remember that the best brand strategies are those that resonate authentically with their audience, remain consistent, and always deliver on their promises. If you study the ten branding books listed above then I promise you will have one of the most popular brands in your space ten years from now.
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