The best books on visual branding

Who am I?

I am a graphic designer, writer, and brand consultant. I work with clients of all sizes, from multinationals to companies of one. Since opening my business in 2005 I’ve created logos and visual identities for brands in more than 30 countries. I run two design blogs Logo Design Love and Identity Designed. They resulted in publishing deals to write their accompanying books, and their pages now get millions of views each year.


I wrote...

Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

By David Airey,

Book cover of Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding

What is my book about?

Identity Designed formalizes the process and the benefits of brand identity design and includes a substantial collection of high-caliber projects from a variety of the world's most talented design studios. You'll see the history and importance of branding, a contemporary assessment of best practices, and how there's always more than one way to exceed client expectations. You'll also learn a range of methods for conducting research, defining strategy, generating ideas, developing touchpoints, implementing style guides, and futureproofing your designs. Each identity case study is followed by a recap of key points.

The books I picked & why

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The Art of Looking Sideways

By Alan Fletcher,

Book cover of The Art of Looking Sideways

Why this book?

A seminal classic for any graphic designer. “A primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain, and the imagination.”

The Art of Looking Sideways

By Alan Fletcher,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Art of Looking Sideways as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Art of Looking Sideways is a primer in visual intelligence, an exploration of the workings of the eye, the hand, the brain and the imagination. It is an inexhaustible mine of anecdotes, quotations, images, curious facts and useless information, oddities, serious science, jokes and memories, all concerned with the interplay between the verbal and the visual, and the limitless resources of the human mind. Loosely arranged in 72 chapters, all this material is presented in a wonderfully inventive series of pages that are themselves masterly demonstrations of the expressive use of type, space, colour and imagery.

This book does…


Branding: In Five and a Half Steps

By Michael Johnson,

Book cover of Branding: In Five and a Half Steps

Why this book?

Few people have more experience in the field of visual branding than Michael Johnson of London-based johnson banks. In my humble opinion, this tome is one of Michael’s greatest contributions to the profession.

Branding: In Five and a Half Steps

By Michael Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Branding as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Michael Johnson is one of the world's leading graphic designers and brand consultants. His studio, johnson banks, is responsible for the rebranding of many notable clients, including Virgin Atlantic, Think London, BFI, Christian Aid, and MORE TH>N, and he has garnered a plethora of awards in the process.

In Branding, Johnson strips everyday brands down to their basic components, with case studies that enable us to understand why we select one product or service over another and allow us to comprehend how seemingly subtle influences can affect key life decisions. The first part of the book shows how the birth…


A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design

By Greg Quinton, Beryl McAlhone, David Staurt, Nick Asbury

Book cover of A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design

Why this book?

The world of design could do with more wit, and the examples within are a wonderful testament to the difference it makes. Almost guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.

A Smile in the Mind: Witty Thinking in Graphic Design

By Greg Quinton, Beryl McAlhone, David Staurt, Nick Asbury

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Smile in the Mind as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forty years of "witty thinking" from over 500 designers, including hundreds of visual examples and interviews with the world's top practitioners

First published in 1996, A Smile in the Mind rapidly became one of the most influential books in graphic design - a rich sourcebook of design ideas and an entertaining guide to the techniques behind witty thinking.

Now extensively revised and updated, this book explores the powerful role of wit in graphic design, making the case for wit, as the magical element that builds the world's biggest brands and engages people with messages that matter. Packed with illustrations showcasing…


Now Try Something Weirder: How to Keep Having Great Ideas and Survive in the Creative Business

By Michael Johnson,

Book cover of Now Try Something Weirder: How to Keep Having Great Ideas and Survive in the Creative Business

Why this book?

A relatively small, informal book filled with advice on how to keep having great ideas and how to survive in the creative business. Valuable even in you only pick up for a minute.

Now Try Something Weirder: How to Keep Having Great Ideas and Survive in the Creative Business

By Michael Johnson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Now Try Something Weirder as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With 233 (to be exact) hints, tips, and pieces of advice, Now Try Something Weirder shows those in the creative industry how to have great ideas (every day).

Internationally award-winning graphic designer Michael Johnson draws on more than 30 years' experience (his CV clocks up eight creative posts, three dismissals, and the launch of his own business) to share his ultimate secrets to enviable success ... who said you should keep your secrets closely guarded?

Looking to improve the way you work with clients, understand and question design briefs, deliver knockout presentations—and generally gain covetable creative confidence? Sometimes the solution…


The Process: A New Foundation in Art and Design

By Richard Wilde, Judith Wilde,

Book cover of The Process: A New Foundation in Art and Design

Why this book?

If any book can explain why there’s always more than one way to solve a visual problem, this is it. The book shares a compendium of 13 experimental projects, each designed to teach conceptual thinking and problem solving to art and design students.

The Process: A New Foundation in Art and Design

By Richard Wilde, Judith Wilde,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Process as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Process is a compendium of 17 experimental art and design projects geared toward teaching college art students what is needed to become an artist.

The projects, created by Judith Wilde and Richard Wilde, focus on developing formal excellence and a strong sense of aesthetics, along with the ability to generate new ideas.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in design, graphic design, and art?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about design, graphic design, and art.

Design Explore 36 books about design
Graphic Design Explore 13 books about graphic design
Art Explore 121 books about art

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Absolute Guide to Dashboarding and Reporting with Power Bi, Another World Lies Beyond, and The Unknown Craftsman if you like this list.