The best books on brand strategy

Who am I?

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...

The Brand Gap

By Marty Neumeier,

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.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is readers supported. When you buy through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).

Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

By Al Ries, Jack Trout,

Book cover of Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Why 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.

The Innovator's Solution: Creating and Sustaining Successful Growth

By Clayton M. Christensen, Michael E. Raynor,

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

Why 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.

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

By Peter M. Senge,

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

Why 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.

Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become?

By Michael Schrage,

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

Why 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.

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

By Kit Yarrow,

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

Why 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.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in teamwork, psychology, and philosophy?

5,215 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about teamwork, psychology, and philosophy.

Teamwork Explore 5 books about teamwork
Psychology Explore 246 books about psychology
Philosophy Explore 296 books about philosophy

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Innovator's Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, Talk Triggers: The Complete Guide to Creating Customers with Word of Mouth, and Breakthrough Advertising if you like this list.