Top 10 Branding Books of All Time

I’m pleased to share with you my list of top branding books about different sub-areas such as brand purpose, positioning, or identity design.

Because books are a great source of knowledge and inspiration, whether you’re a designer, a CEO or a marketer, you should definitely take time to read through these top 10 books.

What sets good branding experts apart from the great ones? – an insatiable desire to learn.

If you want to stand out from the crowd, if you have a desire to build an effective and memorable brand, you’re in the right place.

10 Best Branding Books

  1. Start With Why
  2. Hello, My Name Is Awesome
  3. Building A StoryBrand
  4. Power Branding
  5. The Brand Gap
  6. Brand Thinking
  7. What Great Brands Do
  8. Designing Brand Identity
  9. Identity Designed
  10. Logo Design Love

Whether you are just starting out in the world of branding, or you consider yourself a pro, the whole process of designing and implementing a brand can be very overwhelming.

This is because branding is a very broad term that spans across many different areas.

However, this list includes everything you need to know to create strong brands, from strategy, through design to marketing and more.

Enjoy, and let me know if I’ve left out any of your favorites!


1. Start With Why

“Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action” by Simon Sinek is a book that answers the fundamental question:

Why are some people and brands more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others?

Why do some brands command greater loyalty from customers and employees alike?

"Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action" by Simon Sinek

Even among the most successful business people like Steve Jobs, why are so few able to repeat their success over and over?

People like Elon Musk, Steve Jobs, or Jeff Bezos have little in common, but they all started with WHY.

They realized that people won’t truly buy into a product, service, movement, or idea until they understand the WHY behind it (your mission).

The book shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does.

Simon calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which brands can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired.

And it all starts with WHY.


2. Hello, My Name Is Awesome

“Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick” by Alexandra Watkins is the ultimate guide to naming your brand.

In this entertaining and engaging book, Alexandra explains:

How anyone–even noncreative type–can create memorable and effective brand names.

Every year, six million companies and more than 100,000 products are launched, but most of them fail at the very beginning.

"Hello, My Name Is Awesome: How to Create Brand Names That Stick" by Alexandra Watkins

They all need an awesome name, but many (such as Xobni, Svbtle, and Doostang) look like the results of a drunken Scrabble game.

In this book, you will find number of resources personally vetted by the author to ensure that they provide crucial, accurate, and useful information for naming purposes.

You will also find examples of how companies from LinkedIn to McDonald’s are using creative names around the office to add personality to everything from cafeterias to conference rooms.

She also tells compelling stories and examples of both winners and losers in the naming game.

So if you’re struggling with naming your company, brand or product–you will find this book very useful.


3. Building a Story Brand

“Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen” by Donald Miller is a communication book.

How to dramatically improve the way you connect with your customers by using the power of storytelling.

Donald Miller’s StoryBrand process is a proven solution to the struggle business leaders face when talking about their businesses.

It’s essential all about brand storytelling.

"Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen" by Donald Miller

This revolutionary method for connecting with customers provides listeners with the ultimate competitive advantage, revealing the secret formula of telling a great story.

By telling a great story you will help your customers understand the compelling benefits of using your products, ideas, or services.

Building a StoryBrand teaches you the seven universal story points all humans respond to.

You will understand the real reason why customers make purchases, how to simplify a brand message so people understand it.

As a result you will be able to create the most effective messaging for websites, brochures, and social media.

Whether you are a marketing director, the owner of a small business, or a politician running for office, the book will forever transform the way you talk about who you are, what you do, and the unique value you bring to your customers.


4. Power Branding

“Power Branding: Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands” by Steve McKee is another great book about branding with great examples and case studies.

Every one of the largest, most successful corporations were, at some point, mere startups.

McKee explains:

What enables some brands to grow bigger and better, while others stumble along year after year, running but never winning the race.

The difference is that the biggest and best brands aren’t slaves to conventional marketing wisdom.

"Power Branding: Leveraging the Success of the World’s Best Brands" by Steve McKee

McKee shows by example how the same, sometimes counter-intuitive, strategies used by the biggest brands can also best serve small and mid-sized companies.

Among the topics explored:

  • How can a company grow big by thinking small?
  • Why do the best companies sometimes avoid being better?
  • Why do brands that create the most memorable advertising stay away from focus groups?
  • What is the secret to an effective slogan?
  • When can admitting a negative become a positive?

A diverse selection of companies provides powerful lessons, ranging from traditional icons like Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, and General Motors, to new media models like Google and Facebook.

This book appeals not only to time–starved executives, but also to middle managers and owners of small businesses.

Those who have a wide variety of marketing problems to address and who need to change the way they think about how to generate healthy, consistent growth will definitely benefit from reading that book.


5. The Brand Gap

“The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design” by Marty Neumeier is the first book to present a unified theory of brand-building.

Whereas most books on branding are weighted toward either a strategic or creative approach, this book shows:

How both strategic and creative ways of thinking can unite to produce a “charismatic brand”—a brand that customers feel is essential to their lives.

Neumeier presents set of five disciplines to help companies bridge the gap between brand strategy and customer experience.

"The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design" by Marty Neumeier

In an entertaining two-hour read you’ll learn:

  • 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

Those with a grasp of branding will be inspired by the new perspectives they find here, and those who would like to understand it better will suddenly “get it.”

This deceptively simple book offers everyone in the company access to “the most powerful business tool since the spreadsheet”.


6. Brand Thinking

“Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits” by Debbie Millman.

The notion of the brand, like any concept that dominates markets and public consciousness, is a challenge to define.

Is brand a simple differentiator or a manipulative brainwashing tool forced on us by corporations, or a creative triumph capable of stimulating our emotions and intellect?

For those of us who grapple with these questions on a daily basis, the book elevates the discussion to the level of revelation.

"Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits" by Debbie Millman.

Each chapter is an extensive dialogue between Debbie Millman, herself a design visionary, and a different leader in the field.

By asking questions deeply informed by her own expertise, Millman coaxes lucid, prescient answers from twenty-two interview subjects, among them Malcolm Gladwell, Tom Peters, Seth Godin, and godfather of modern branding Wally Olins.

This engaging and enlightening book is an unprecedented forum on the state of modern branding.

You will learn how companies and consumers can best understand the behavior behind why we brand and why we buy.


7. What Great Brands Do

“What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest” by Denise Lee Yohn is a book in which you will discover proven strategies for building powerful brands.

Do brands like Apple, Nike, and Zappos achieved their iconic statuses because of serendipity, an unattainable magic formula or even the genius of a single visionary leader?

It’s tempting to believe that, but the truth is that these companies all adopted specific approaches and principles that transformed their ordinary brands into industry leaders.

"What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest" by Denise Lee Yohn.

In other words, great brands can be built – and Denise Lee Yohn knows exactly how to do it.

Delivering a fresh perspective, the book teaches an innovative brand-as-business strategy that enhances brand identity while boosting profit margins, improving company culture, and creating stronger stakeholder relationships.

Drawing from 25 years of consulting work with such top brands as Frito-Lay, Sony, Nautica, and Burger King, you will understand key principles of the brand-as-business strategy.

This book:

  • Reveals the seven key principles that the world’s best brands consistently implement
  • Presents case studies that explore the brand building successes and failures of companies of all sizes, including IBM, Lululemon, Chipotle Mexican Grill, and other remarkable brands
  • Provides tools and strategies that organizations can start using right away

Filled with targeted guidance for CEOs, COOs, entrepreneurs, and other organization leaders, this book is an essential blueprint for launching any brand to meteoric heights.


8. Designing Brand Identity

“Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team” by Alina Wheeler is, like the name says, the quintessential resource about brand fundamentals.

Who are you? Who needs to know? Why should they care? How will they find out?

The book demystifies branding and gives practitioners a roadmap to create sustainable and successful brands.

"Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team" by Debbie Millman.

Whether you’re the project manager for your company’s rebrand, or you need to educate your staff or your students about brand fundamentals, the is a must-have.

From research to brand strategy to design execution, launch, and governance, the book is a compendium of tools for branding success and best practices for inspiration.

  • 3 sections: brand fundamentals, process basics, and case studies.
  • Over 100 branding subjects, checklists, tools, and diagrams.
  • 50 case studies that describe goals, process, strategy, solution, and results.
  • Over 700 illustrations of brand touchpoints.
  • More than 400 quotes from branding experts, CEOs, and design gurus.

This is the book that first taught me how to build brands and for the past decade, it’s been my blueprint for using design to impact people, culture, and business.

If branding was a religion, Alina Wheeler would be its goddess, and “Designing Brand Identity” its bible.


9. Identity Designed

“Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding” by David Airey formalizes the process and the benefits of brand identity design.

Ideal for students of design, independent designers, and entrepreneurs who want to expand their understanding of effective design in business

The book includes a substantial collection of high-caliber projects from a variety of the world’s most talented design studios.

"Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding" by David AireyYou’ll see:

  • the history and importance of branding
  • a contemporary assessment of best practices
  • and how there’s always more than one way to exceed client expectations.

You’ll also learn a range of methods for conducting research, defining strategy, generating ideas, developing touchpoints, implementing style guides, and futureproofing your designs.

Each identity case study is followed by a recap of key points.

This book is a must-have, not only for designers, but also for entrepreneurs who want to improve their work with a greater understanding of how good design is good business.


10. Logo Design Love

“Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities” by David Airey contains case studies, sketches, logos, tips for working with clients, insider stories, and more.

How to develop an iconic brand identity from start to finish, using client case studies from renowned designers.

In this book, David reveals how designers create effective briefs, generate ideas, charge for their work, and collaborate with clients.

"Logo Design Love: A Guide to Creating Iconic Brand Identities" by David Airey.

David not only shares his personal experiences working on identity projects – including sketches and final results of his own successful designs.

You’ll learn:

  • Best practices for extending a logo into a complete brand identity system
  • Why one logo is more effective than another
  • How to create your own iconic designs
  • What sets some designers above the rest
  • 31 practical design tips for creating logos that last

He also uses the work of many well-known designers such as Paula Scher, who designed the logos for Citi and Microsoft Windows, and Lindon Leader, creator of the current FedEx identity.

As well as work from leading design studios, including Moving Brands, Pentagram, MetaDesign, Sagmeister & Walsh, and many more.


Conclusions

Even if you have been a pro for years, the branding industry is evolving at a fast pace that is sure to leave even the most level-headed business person spinning once in a while.

So to help you build your brand in the best light possible, dive deeper into this list of my favorite reads.

Every company, entrepreneur, small business, and even individual needs a strong brand.

A brand will set your business, product, and even yourself apart from the competition.

Branding will create a lasting impression with customers, and essentially help promote, market, and sell your products or services.

So before you launch your next brand, take a step back and a hard look at different areas of branding.

If you feel like your brand could do better, then pick from one of these ten books and start reading.

Each of them delivers actionable strategies that will help you build a strong brand that people love.

Hope it helps–let me know your thoughts in the comments below.