The best books on brand strategy

Why am I passionate about this?

In my younger days I was a graphic designer and copywriter, approaching brands largely from a creative viewpoint. Over the years I’ve discovered that creative work is much more powerful when harnessed to business strategy, and business strategy is much more powerful when combined with exceptional creative work. I’ve characterized the gulf between strategy and creativity as the “brand gap,” which has led to eight books on branding and a school for professional mastery called Level C.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Brand Gap

What is my book about?

My goal was to write a book that busy professionals could finish on a short plane ride, but still go deeper with every re-read. I used the visual language of the boardroom—charts, diagrams, illustrations, and the fewest number of words—to present the first unified theory of brand. Here you’ll learn the five critical disciplines for bridging the gap between business strategy and customer experience. Over 25 million people have read the book so far, and it’s now the basis of a popular certificate program called Level C.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Marty Neumeier Why did I love this book?

Positioning started as a brochure in early 1970, then grew into a book that changed the face of marketing. Ries and Trout pioneered a concept they called positioning, which in my view is the foundation of any brand. If you can grasp the simple truths in this book, you’ll understand what 90% of marketing people don’t—that the brand is in the minds of customers, not companies.

By Al Ries, Jack Trout,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Positioning as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first book to deal with the problems of communicating to a skeptical, media-blitzed public, Positioning describes a revolutionary approach to creating a "position" in a prospective customer's mind-one that reflects a company's own strengths and weaknesses as well as those of its competitors. Writing in their trademark witty, fast-paced style, advertising gurus Ries and Trout explain how to:

Make and position an industry leader so that its name and message wheedles its way into the collective subconscious of your market-and stays there Position a follower so that it can occupy a niche not claimed by the leader Avoid letting…


Book cover of The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

Marty Neumeier Why did I love this book?

After Positioning, this is the most influential book in brand innovation. The authors show how scrappy startups can disrupt incumbents with products and services that seem “not good enough” at first, but end up reordering an entire industry. They also show how incumbents can defend against such aggressive moves. A seminal work.

By Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Innovator's Solution as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An innovation classic. From Steve Jobs to Jeff Bezos, Clay Christensen's work continues to underpin today's most innovative leaders and organizations. A seminal work on disruption--for everyone confronting the growth paradox. For readers of the bestselling The Innovator's Dilemma--and beyond--this definitive work will help anyone trying to transform their business right now. In The Innovator's Solution, Clayton Christensen and Michael Raynor expand on the idea of disruption, explaining how companies can and should become disruptors themselves. This classic work shows just how timely and relevant these ideas continue to be in today's hyper-accelerated business environment. Christensen and Raynor give advice…


Book cover of The Fifth Discipline: The Art & Practice of the Learning Organization

Marty Neumeier Why did I love this book?

Senge brought systems thinking—what he calls “the fifth discipline”—to the world of business management. There are very few single-brand companies, so leaders need to learn the skills for managing multiple brands as a system instead of as a simple collection of brands. While this book is not about branding per se, you’ll learn a lot about thinking in systems instead of reacting to challenges independently of one another.

By Peter M. Senge,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Fifth Discipline as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

One of the seminal management books of the past 75 years, The Fifth Discipline is an international multi-million-copy bestseller. Written in an engaging and accessible way, with diagrams and illustrations, it will change the way you think and therefore way you and your team grows and develop. In the long run, the only sustainable source of competitive advantage is your organisation's ability to learn faster than its competitors....

'Senge explains why the learning organization matters, provides an unvarnished summary of his management principals, offers some basic tools for practicing it, and shows what it's like to operate under this system.…


Book cover of Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?

Marty Neumeier Why did I love this book?

It’s a startling question, especially for companies that focus on their own success instead of the success of their customers. But if you’re out to build a lasting brand, it’s the right question to ask. Schrage shows why the goal of innovation should not be to invent a great product but to create a great customer.

By Michael Schrage,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Who do you want your customers to become?

According to MIT innovation expert and thought leader Michael Schrage, if you aren’t asking this question, your strategic marketing and innovation efforts will fail.

In this latest HBR Single, Schrage provides a powerful new lens for getting more value out of innovation investment. He argues that asking customers to do something different doesn’t go far enough—serious marketers and innovators must ask them to become something different instead. Even more, you must invest in their capabilities and competencies to help them become better customers.

Schrage’s primary insight is that innovation is an investment…


Book cover of Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy

Marty Neumeier Why did I love this book?

Marketing psychologist Kit Yarrow explains how technology has rewired our brains, making us more individualistic, isolated, emotional, and distrustful. This is not a pessimistic book—it’s a practical guide to addressing customers’ desires and insecurities in a time of deep cultural shifts. Not only has she done her homework, but she also presents the results with lightness and clarity.

By Kit Yarrow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Decoding the New Consumer Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Take a glimpse into the mind of the modern consumer A decade of swift and stunning change has profoundly affected the psychology of how, when, and why we shop and buy. In Decoding the New Consumer Mind, award-winning consumer psychologist Kit Yarrow shares surprising insights about the new motivations and behaviors of shoppers, taking marketers where they need to be today: into the deeply psychological and often unconscious relationships that people have with products, retailers, marketing communications, and brands. Drawing on hundreds of consumer interviews and shop-alongs, Yarrow reveals the trends that define our transformed behavior. For example, when we…


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Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

By Sima Dimitrijev, PhD, Maryann Karinch,

Book cover of Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

Sima Dimitrijev, PhD Author Of Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

My core value is realistic education—learning from each other’s errors and successes, but with full awareness of the difference between the determined past and the uncertain future. We can benefit from uncertainty, which I’ve been doing for a living as an engineer, academic researcher, and inventor. I make use of knowledge and science as much as possible, but I also know that strategic decisions for the uncertain future require skepticism and thinking to deal with the differences in a new circumstance. With my core value, I am passionate about sharing insights and knowledge that our formal education does not provide.

Sima's book list on realistic knowledge and decision making

What is my book about?

Everything in nature evolves by trial, error, and success—from fundamental physics, through evolution in biology, to how people learn, think, and decide.

This book presents a way of thinking and realistic knowledge that our formal education shuns. Stepping beyond this ignorance, the book shows how to deal with and even benefit from uncertainty by skeptical thinking, strategic decisions, and teamwork based on enlightened self-interests.

This bottom-up thinking is thought-provoking for leaders who wish to build teams rather than herds. The insights in the book will help you to be better prepared for the unexpected, less likely to conform when you…

Trial, Error, and Success: 10 Insights into Realistic Knowledge, Thinking, and Emotional Intelligence

By Sima Dimitrijev, PhD, Maryann Karinch,

What is this book about?

Everything in nature evolves by trial, error, and success. They didn't teach you this in school, even though you should know why the rigid laws of physics don't rule nature and don't inhibit your free-will decisions to try, fail, and succeed. As a guide to success, this book shows how skepticism, prudent use of science, and thinking lead to strategic decisions for the uncertain future.
 
Presenting real-life examples, the thinking in the book combines sharp analyses with broad analogies to show:
 
How to identify realistic knowledge and avoid harm due to overgeneralized concepts. How to create new knowledge and solve…


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