The top 9 branding books to boost your development

The following books are mostly centred around branding and design issues, but other creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs can integrate several of them into their own processes.

The top 9 branding books to boost your development
Books are still among the best sources of knowledge.

Books are still among the best sources of knowledge. Not only because they are long-lasting, but also because immersing yourself in a book helps you stay focused in an increasingly fast-paced world.

It is, however, not always easy to pick the best ones – so here are 10 branding books I believe can contribute the most to your development. 

Why do we, creatives, still believe in books?

Just to mention a few benefits of books...

Reading helps develop:

  • writing skills 
  • critical thinking 
  • memory
  • vocabulary
  • concentration
  • and creativity.

And when you read a book instead of some digital format, you can, for a little while, break away from the constant barrage of stimuli you get every day.

This can significantly decrease stress and anxiety. (These conditions are really widespread these days, don’t take them lightly, especially if you are a freelancer or an entrepreneur.)

Let’s take a look at the 9 books on branding that can really contribute to your development in this field.

9 branding books to boost your development

The following books are mostly centred around branding and design issues, but other creatives, freelancers and entrepreneurs can integrate several of them into their own processes.

1. Michael Johnson – Branding in Five and a Half Steps

It was this book that made me realise that branding is not only for marketing specialists. We, designers, graphic designers also have to deal with branding issues. 

What makes this book great is that it defines a system with 5 (and a half) steps that you can adopt, and it uses figures to present the processes in an easy-to-understand way.

Johnson also has an online course to further explore the topics of the book.

👉 You can find the book here

👉 You can find the course here

2. Douglas Van Praet – Unconscious Branding

How we, humans, make decisions is an intriguing question in itself, and in marketing, you can use such knowledge for your benefit.

The book centres around neuromarketing and mostly investigates:

  • why we, humans, feel
  • how we make decisions
  • and what motivates us.

Neuromarketing applies the findings of cognitive research, neurology and neuropsychology in marketing. It involves conducting market research, assessing client needs and exploring the motivation and preferences of customers.

This book can be a great deal of help as you use branding to create strong, meaningful connections with your target groups.

👉 Link to the book

Peter Sher's book on visual branding

3. Branding and the Visual Response 

🎺 Let me blow my own trumpet a bit...

In this book I focus on the branding process, more specifically on the connection between strategy and visual solutions.

So if you are interested in how to get from branding to designing a visual identity, how to approach the branding process and how to create visual responses from this, check out this book.

👉 Here you can grab the digital and printed version.

4. Simon Sinek – Start with Why

The first book on the list that has been translated into Hungarian. This is a must-read, and not just because how it covers branding. 

The detailed description of Sinek’s theory of ‘What? How? Why?’ is useful for executives, entrepreneurs, marketing specialists, copywriters, product developers and more...

The 3 questions above are key in the life of a brand.

It’s relatively easy to describe what a brand does. How is a more complex issue (that covers processes, quality assurance, etc.). And the real challenge is why. 

This sums up the mission that drives the brand’s activities. It is about the emotional connection between a brand and its target audience.

Sinek also held a globally acknowledged TED talk about this issue (which is, of course, a must-watch).

👉 You can find the book here

👉 Here is the author’s TED talk

5. Donald Miller – Building a StoryBrand

It is always much easier to build a connection using stories, this is why every brand needs one. (Here is an article I wrote about branding and storytelling.

Donald Miller describes a universal, 7-step storytelling framework which can help you craft your brand’s storytelling process and message.

We, at zwoelf also use this framework in some of our projects.

An online workshop is also available on the Building a Story Brand website.

👉 You can order the book here

6. Anne Miltenburg – Brand the Change

This book brings you:

  • 23 tools and exercises (it’s like having a branding workshop in writing);
  • 14 case studies;
  • and 7 essays.

The book focuses on how you can create sustainable, changemaking brands. (The underlying question here is also why.)

A community (with free and paid options) similar to YELLOW is organized around the book, check it out if you want some extra help. 

👉 Here is the book

7. Fabian Geyrhalter – How to Launch a Brand

If you need an overview of the branding process, you should definitely read this book – it will guide you through the process of creating a brand from the ground up, also covering brand identity design and naming.

It can be used as a step-by-step guidebook. As it takes only a few hours to read, having no time is no excuse.

👉 You can buy the book here.

8. Margaret Mark – The Hero and the Outlaw

When creating a brand, defining your brand personality is a crucial step.

You can associate personal traits like serious, funny, expert, etc. with your brand. This helps build a connection with the target audience and makes the brand easier to remember and recognise. The traits associated with the brand personality influence the brand’s behaviour and communication. This means it is useful in several areas from product development and marketing to customer service.

Margaret Mark discusses all 12 Jungian archetypes in separate chapters, identifying the corresponding brand personalities. The examples provided can help you a lot in the development of the brand personality.

The book comes with a workbook, which will also help you in the implementation of the method.

👉Here is the book.

9. Marty Neumeier – ZAG, Brand Gap, Brand Flip

Marty Neumeier’s whiteboard books take only 1-2 hours to read each. These books, with large fonts and plenty of figures, cover branding issues in a really inspiring way – they are very easy to understand and while they won’t provide you with step-by-step guides, you’ll surely see your future projects in a different light.

👉 Click if you’re interested in the books

I’m sure you’ll find this list useful as you expand your knowledge about branding, whichever area you want to focus on.

How a brand turns into visual identity

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