6 Best Branding Books for Entrepreneurs
As an entrepreneur, your business directly results from your passion, drive, and initiative. With such high stakes, the pressure to build a brand-centric organization and create a meaningful narrative has never been more critical.
You want to build a brand that matters and often seek books to glean insight into what that takes. There are thousands of resources to choose from — knowing what’s right, where to look, and how to apply these ideas to your brand can be a mammoth task.
How do you discover your purpose? How do you define a strategy and articulate your brand’s most meaningful and motivational aspects? How do you pull it all together for a comprehensive brand experience?
To help navigate the potential resource minefield, I want to share my six best branding books for entrepreneurs.
They are some of the richest and deepest reads on brand development, including topics ranging from brand positioning, naming, and design to culture and leadership. The selections are meant to inspire and be used for reference.
All of these books hold an aspect of brand building at their core and are go-to references for Motto.
We all crave stories. From gossip to gospel, stories help us to learn, understand, and to contextualize the vast and sometimes abstract world around us.
In ‘The Hero and the Outlaw,’ Mark and Pearson unearth our collective love of stories, highlighting how brand powerhouses use archetypes to ‘gain and lose meaning, attention, value, and share of the market.” The 12 main archetypes are explored in great detail. This book does an excellent job of explaining them all, along with real-world examples. The key to unearthing your brand’s meaning is finding the right story and the right brand archetype.
We’ve also written a deep-dive article on archetypes here.
When naming your brand, you might go with the first thing that pops into your head. But we’d advise you to read this book before doing that. Naming is one of the most challenging and crucial elements of brand development.
In her book ‘Hello, My Name Is Awesome,’ Alexandra Watkins suggests taking a more objective approach; step back and try to find the brand name’s value, meaning, and emotional resonance.
At the core of her book, Watkins offers up her “SMILE & SCRATCH” test as a way of testing the potential and success of your chosen name:
A good name makes you SMILE because it’s: Suggestive – evokes a positive brand experience; Meaningful – your customers “get it”; uses Imagery – visually evocative to aid in memory; has Legs – lends itself to a theme for extended mileage, and is Emotional – resonates with your audience.
A wrong name, on the other hand, makes you SCRATCH your head because it’s: Spelling-challenged – looks like a typo; Copycat – similar to competitors’ names; Random – disconnected from the brand; Annoying – hidden meaning, forced; Tame – flat, descriptive, uninspired; suffers from the Curse of Knowledge – only insiders get it, and is Hard-to-pronounce – not obvious, unapproachable.
Watkins’ methods are renowned, and this book offers a valuable look at the entire naming process from inception to trademarking.
In many ways, success relies on a firm memorable, meaningful name. For more on this topic, you can read our article on naming here.
“People share more than 16,000 words daily, and every hour, there are more than 100 million conversations about brands.”
It seems like there’s a new ‘viral’ story every day, from piano-playing cats to buckets of ice being thrown over people in the name of charity, but what makes people want to naturally like, share, forward or follow stories or brands?
In his book ‘Contagious,” Jonah Berger offers some compelling research that goes a long way to helping find an answer. One of the key takeaways is that the more powerful and dynamic the story, the more shareable the experience.
Contagious is an invaluable resource for finding inspiration for new ideas, offering real-life examples and actionable techniques to create infinitely more powerful content.
Rather than harping on features or facts, he suggests focusing on feelings, the underlying emotions that motivate people to action.
“Brand identity is tangible and appeals to the senses. You can see, touch, hold, hear, and watch it move. Brand identity fuels recognition amplifies differentiation, and makes big ideas and meaning accessible. Brand identity takes disparate elements and unifies them into whole systems.”
‘Designing Brand Identity‘ is an extensive reference guide covering everything from the basics to in-depth processes with real examples and a wost of best practices.
If you’ve wrestled with creating a solid brand identity, chances are this book will be able to point you in the right direction and help you create a unified brand.
‘Onward‘ tells how Starbucks’ Chairman and President Howard Schultz returned to the company as CEO, believing it had lost its way and needed to replace the brand with its core values.
Schultz’s story is a powerful and inspiring one, with some authentic lessons when it comes to leadership. Brand actions should be consistent; straying from the core values later in business can have a hugely detrimental effect.
“It’s not just about winning, but the right way to win.”
Discovering your brand’s purpose, beliefs, vision, values, culture, and personality are fundamental to creating more meaningful brand experiences.
‘The Culture Engine’ offers step-by-step guidance into defining an organization’s culture to increase morale, performance, and engagement. Edmonds’s guide helps organizations strategically plan culture by creating an organizational constitution.
Edmonds suggests that for a company to succeed and reach its potential, its culture, values, and organizational constitution must reflect every team member.
“Make workplace inspiration – the employee experience – as important as performance and profits.”
I’ve covered everything from uncovering your brand story to creating a valuable culture for teams and clients. I hope you find helpful and innovative ways to implement some of these ideas. If you have more examples of great books or other resources that have influenced your approach, I’d love to hear them in the comments.