The best books about branding, ideas, and the advertising industry

Vanitha Swaminathan Author Of Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity
By Vanitha Swaminathan

Who am I?

Vanitha Swaminathan is the Thomas Marshall Professor of Marketing at the University of Pittsburgh and the Director of the Katz Center for Branding. Her research focuses on branding strategy with a particular emphasis on digital branding. She has published in various leading marketing and management journals including Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, Journal of Consumer Research, Marketing Science, and Strategic Management Journal. She is currently serving on a three-year term on the American Marketing Association Board of Directors and previously served in AMA’s Academic Council as President. She has co-authored the Fifth Edition of the world-renowned textbook Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity, along with Professor Kevin Lane Keller.


I wrote...

Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity

By Kevin Lane Keller, Vanitha Swaminathan,

Book cover of Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity

What is my book about?

A veritable encyclopedia of branding, featuring deep analysis of different aspects of branding, a multitude of case studies, and summaries of research on various branding topics. This book focuses on brands—and highlights why they are important, what they represent to consumers and how they should be managed. As many managers recognize, brands are perhaps among the most valuable assets owned by a firm. However, creating and managing brands is not a trivial task.

This book provides a comprehensive look at the process of brand building or strategic brand management – the design and implementation of marketing programs that help build, measure and manage brand equity. The book features some of the developments in digital and social media that have had a major influence on strategies that can be used to build and manage brands.

The books I picked & why

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Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)

By Ken Auletta,

Book cover of Frenemies: The Epic Disruption of the Ad Business (and Everything Else)

Why this book?

Frenemies presents a firsthand look at how the rapid growth of digital platforms such as Facebook and Google disrupted the advertising industry. This book is written by Ken Auletta, who is a masterful storyteller and describes an industry undergoing rapid transformation. We witness an industry marked by algorithmic ad buying, while we also encounter skeptical consumers blocking these same ads. Ken Auletta helps brand marketers by shining a light on how the art and science of brand-building has been altered by the advent of new advertising and distribution channels such as Facebook and Google, thus replacing traditional mass media channels.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

By Malcolm Gladwell,

Book cover of The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference

Why this book?

The Tipping Point is a story of epidemics, fads, and how small things can influence the spread of information. This is especially relevant in today’s hyperconnected world, where brand information (both positive and negative) can spread in an uncontrolled fashion in social media. Brand managers have to learn how to manage social media firestorms as it can quickly cause harm to brand reputation. The Tipping Point provides the basis for understanding how ideas and information spread, which is relevant in the context of the creator economy.

Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles That Drive Success

By David Aaker,

Book cover of Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles That Drive Success

Why this book?

David Aaker’s Aaker on Branding is a must-read for those interested in the principles of branding. The book’s author David Aaker is known as the Father of Branding and is a prolific author, and branding expert. This book combines principles of branding from across his various books and is thematically organized into various topics including creating a brand vision, and creating and managing brands, among others. Readers of this book will also learn about maintaining the brand’s relevance over time. An excellent compilation of the principles that drive branding success.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand

By Al Ries, Laura Ries,

Book cover of The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand

Why this book?

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding by Al Ries and Laura Ries is a classic which offers time-tested advice for how to build the best brands. The book highlights some of the world’s leading brands and draws out lessons from these case studies on brand-building. It also focuses on new challenges and opportunities pertaining to branding in online contexts, and offers concrete advice to help brands outshine their competitors in the marketplace.

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

By Chip Heath, Dan Heath,

Book cover of Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

Why this book?

A wonderful book about why and how some ideas thrive while others die. This book is a must-read for a student of branding, as brand-building is fundamentally the art of telling a compelling story that appeals to your customer. By reading this book, brand marketers learn what it takes to weave a memorable story by combining emotional and factual brand elements. The authors leverage research to identify principles behind ideas and stories that stand the test of time.

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