6 Best Branding Books for Entrepreneurs

As an entrepreneur, your business is a direct result of 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 important.

If you’re anything like us, 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 the most meaningful and motivational aspects of your brand? How do you pull it all together for a comprehensive brand experience?

To help navigate the potential resource minefield, I want to share with you my 6 best branding books for entrepreneurs in 2015.

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They are some of the richest and deepest reads on brand development and include topics ranging from brand positioning, naming and design to culture and leadership. The selections are meant to inspire while others should be used for reference.

All of these books hold an aspect of brand building at their core and are go-to references for Motto.

Hero-outlaw

The Hero and the Outlaw

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, while highlighting how brand powerhouses are using archetypes to ‘gain and lose meaning, attention, value and share of market’.

The 12 main archetypes are explored in great detail. This book does a particularly good job of explaining them all, along with real world examples. The key to unearthing the meaning behind your brand is to find the right story and the right brand archetype.

hello_my_name_is_awesome

Hello, My Name is Awesome

When it comes to 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 difficult and crucial elements to 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 value, meaning and emotional resonance in the brand name.

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 bad 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 strong, memorable, meaningful name, while a poorly thought out name can all but destroy a brand.

contagious

Contagious

“People share more than 16,000 words per day and every hour there are more than 100 million conversations about brands.”

It seems like there’s a new ‘viral’ story everyday, 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 incredibly powerful research that goes a long way to helping find an answer. One of the key takeaways is that the more powerful and emotive the story, the more shareable the experience.

Contagious is an invaluable resource when it comes to finding inspiration for new ideas, offering real life examples and actionable techniques for you to create infinitely more powerful content.

Rather than harping on features or facts, we need to focus on feelings; the underlying emotions that motivate people to action

brand identity

Designing Brand Identity

“Brand identity is tangible and appeals to the senses. You can see it, touch it, hold it, hear it, 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 whole host of best practices.

If you’ve wrestled with creating a strong brand identity, chances are this book will be able to point you in the right direction and help you create a unified brand.

onward

Onward

‘Onward’ is the telling of how Starbucks’ Chairman and President Howard Schultz returned to the company as CEO, believing that the company had lost it’s way, and with the aim of returning the brand to it’s core values.

Schultz story is a powerful and inspiring one, with some very real lessons when it comes to leadership. Brand actions should be consistent and 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”

culture

The Culture Engine

Discovering your brand’s purpose, beliefs, vision, values, culture, and personality are fundamental steps when 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 guide helps instruct organizations on how to strategically plan a culture by creating an organizational constitution.

Edmonds suggests that in order for a company to succeed and reach it’s potential, the company culture, values and the organizational constitution must be a true reflection of each and every member of the team.

“Make workplace inspiration – the employee experience – as important as performance and profits.”

Summary

I’ve tried to cover everything from how to figure out your brand story to creating a valuable culture for teams and clients, so I hope you find useful and innovative ways to implement some of these ideas. If you have any more examples of great books, or other resources that have influenced your approach, I’d love to hear them in the comments. 

Do you have any great resources we should know about? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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Sunny Bonnell

Described as a visionary thinker, Sunny Bonnell is co-founder at Motto. Sunny was named GDUSA’s Top 25 People to Watch and has been featured in AMEX, The Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc. and more.

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