The 8 Best Brand Marketing Books of 2020
You'll want to keep these books in your library
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If you want to stand out from the crowd, you have got to build an effective and memorable brand. Of course, this is easier said than done. If you are just starting out in the world of marketing, the whole process of designing and implementing a brand can be very overwhelming — and even if you have been a pro for years, the 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 market your brand in the best light possible, we put together a list our favorite reads that'll take your company from no name to new fame.
Best Place To Start: Brand Thinking
Before you start developing branding strategies, it’s helpful to have a conversation about what branding is and is not. What, exactly, is a brand? Is it a shiny logo, a clever mascot, a catchy slogan? Why should a company care about branding, and why should consumers care about branding? This book, written by expert design visionary Debbie Millman, of the popular podcast “Design Matters,” is a collection of interviews in conversation with leaders in their field, and examines these questions and more. After reading this book, you’ll have a better understanding of the state of modern branding, why it’s done and how consumers are impacted by the branding decisions of large companies (and vice-versa). You’ll also have a better idea of the underlying philosophies that motivate consumers to gravitate towards certain brands and motivate companies to execute their strategies in a certain way.
Best Cautionary Tale: Branded Nation
What do the Lakewood Megachurch, Harvard College and the Smithsonian museums have in common? Kick-butt branding strategies. In this in-depth and brave reported book, James Twitchell examines how branding has become much more than just a corporate strategy. Branding is being utilized by non-profit organizations and turning venerable institutions into those deserving of closer scrutiny. While branding in and of itself is never bad, this book’s descriptions of huge churches that resemble shopping malls will probably make you cringe. “Is nothing sacred anymore,” you’ll wonder? In the words of Twitchell, “high culture is beginning to look more and more like the rest of our culture.” But his takeaway isn’t that this is a bad thing. Rather, it’s opening up high-brow culture and making it more accessible to everyone.
Best for Reaching Millennial: How Cool Brands Stay Hot: Branding Generation Y
Millennials, also known as Generation Y, are growing up — and now represent one of the largest sectors of the workforce. To survive in the 21st century, companies both big and small need to focus their branding strategies in a way that will make them attractive to these valuable consumers. This award-winning book by Belgian market researcher Joeri Van den Bergh and Swedish brand manager Mattias Behrer is one of the most useful guides to doing this effectively and genuinely. For this book, the pair interviewed over 5,000 millennials to learn firsthand what works and what doesn’t. They also pull valuable lessons you can apply to your own business from brands, like Coca-Cola and Red Bull, in an approachable and comprehensive manner.
Best Workbook: How To Style Your Brand
If you are starting out on your own as a brand or building your own business, it might be a little bit overwhelming to think about your brand identity since you’re probably still figuring it out for yourself! Thankfully, Fiona Humberstone’s beautiful book will guide you every step of the way, without being too overwhelming. You will learn how to hone in on your vision and propel it using color psychology (yes, really) to convey the right emotions and associations. You will learn the ins and outs of logo design and the psychology behind it, you will learn how to speak confidently to a designer in a way that will help you get results, and you will learn from over 60 examples of brands big and small that have used these methods to develop winning brand identities.
Best for Small Teams: Designing Brand Identity
If you are in charge of a small and scrappy team that is responsible for a big branding task or rebrand, you need this book. The first section covers branding fundamentals in depth, in a manner that is useful to both novices and pros alike. The second section covers process basics, like how to apply those fundamentals to your projects. The third section is a comprehensive compendium of case studies that help you see how those processes can play out in the real world in a successful manner. Inside, you’ll find checklists and diagrams, 50 case studies, 700 illustrations and over 400 quotes from industry experts. As the design director of Coca-Cola put it, "Designing Brand Identity is the book that first taught me how to build brands. For the past decade, it's been my blueprint for using design to impact people, culture and business."
Best for Content Marketing: Brands in Glass Houses
The thesis of this book is simple: Powerful modern marketing should share a company’s true brand story with consumers. With content marketing, instead of trying to target consumers with your messaging, companies engage with consumers honestly. This book examines not only the most effective strategies for doing so but also the ethics of this approach. You’ll learn the marketing lifecycle in the content marketing world, the ins and outs of building an editorial calendar, how to effectively tell a story and engage with your audience, as well as even how to deal with the bad press in an honest way. If you apply the strategies within, you’ll learn how to provide your readers with interesting stories and engage with them in a way that makes them more likely to buy your products and tell their friends about them.
Best Classic: The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding
This decades-old book is still an indispensable tool for marketers around the world, and this edition includes an updated section specifically geared towards Internet branding. In this book, you’ll learn how the most iconic brands have built their company’s legacies — and you will gain a roadmap for doing so that you can apply to your own company. In the Internet section, you’ll learn about the biggest challenges of the online marketplace and how to overcome them using counterintuitive strategies. Interestingly, even though some of the suggestions inside the 2002 edition have proven to be wrong (ex: Amazon is doomed if they try to be anything but a bookseller!), the lessons and insights are still as applicable as ever, and you’ll learn just as much from every case study and example.
Best On Animal Marketing: Brand Mascots
Have you ever watched a commercial for Fruit Loops or Frosted Flakes and enviously wondered how you can create such ubiquitous characters for yourself or your clients? Or perhaps you’ve scoffed at the idea of an animal mascot, deeming it beneath you or your brand. In this edited collection of academic essay, Professors Sharon Ponsonby-McCabe and Stephen Brown have created a definitive study of what works and what doesn’t in the world of company mascots. You will read about what makes mascots more lucrative, what makes mascots more relatable, why mascots have lost favor with traditional marketers, predictions on the future of mascot marketing, and the reason mascots are so popular with consumers — and not just children. This book is an authoritative collection on the past, present and future of animals in marketing — and makes the case that the more they’re used, the better off everyone is.