We all know that brands don’t just pop up one day, fully formed. It takes time and intentionality to build a brand that actually works – and by works, I mean generates revenue, endears clients to it, and sets a business apart from its competition. But even the best of intentions and all the time in the world won’t take your brand from good to great. Whether you’re building your own business, relaunching a company brand, or designing brands for others – it never hurts to call in the experts. I’ve read dozens of branding and design books over the years, but a few have really stood out in the crowd. I can’t help but return to this stack time and time again.
Laura Bull is an industry expert in turning celebrities and entrepreneurs into operational, sustainable brands. Her decade in the music industry included becoming one of the youngest executives in the history of Sony Entertainment, so trust me, she knows her stuff. Her expertise lies in developing brands into household names, and this book is packed full of her foolproof branding strategies. If you’re building a personal brand, you’ll find plenty of practical tools and exercises here, along with examples that are equal parts hilarious and helpful. The Beyonce and Home Depot analogy will never leave your mind once you read this book, I promise.
If we’ve worked together in any capacity, you’ve probably heard me say, “It’s not about you, it is about your client,” at least once. I’m also known to quote, “Position your business as the guide and your client as the hero.” I learned both of these from Donald Miller, the pioneer of building story brands. I mean, he literally wrote the book on it. If you want to clarify your language and messaging so your brand will be irresistible to potential clients, this book was made for you. Donald Miller offers a clear roadmap through the seven universal elements of telling a powerful story, with practical implementations along the way. Thousands of companies have used this method and found incredible success, so it’s as tried-and-true as they come.
We’re walking in a world of startups, but some brands have truly set themselves apart. In many cases, Emily Heyward has had something to do with that. This book truly blends the art and science of branding while breaking down the success of some seriously recognizable brands, including Allbird, Casper, and Everlane. She’s done the research to find out which brand-building rules are a thing of the past, and offers innovative solutions that will have customers lining the proverbial block for your new company, product launch, or brand refresh. This book has something for every go-getter, from designers striving to build cult brands for their clients to entrepreneurs seeking to carve out a household brand name of their own. It’s perfect for new businesses on the cusp of launching, but there’s wisdom for everyone within these pages.
I’m all about psychology-backed brands here at Bethany Works®, and brand archetypes are my most powerful tool in building them. If you need to dig deep to build out your personality and find key connecting points with potential clients, Margaret Clark and Carol S. Pearson are the gurus you’ve been looking for. How customers perceive your brand is the most important thing about it – and in my experience, many companies have never even done the work to find out what their brand conveys to the outside world. Some of the most successful brands in the world have figured out that our unconscious minds make most of our decisions, and they’ve built brands strategically around those fundamental patterns. If you want to build a human-first brand, this is the book you should dive into. As you learn more about your archetypes, you’ll unlock the key to brand success.
The previous books center around verbal messaging and voice, but in branding, colors speak every bit as loudly as words. Colors convey emotion and energy, so choosing the right shades is essential to building a successful brand – it will set the right tone and evoke the right sentiment from the start. If you’re trying to be intentional in your brand color selections, Sean Adams can guide you through even the oddest shades, like avocado or ocher. This is the best guide to color I’ve ever found, and it’s perfect for everyone building or revamping a brand, from individual influencers to large corporations.
What’s the best branding book on your shelf? I’m always looking to add to my list. And if you’re in the process of establishing or overhauling a brand and need a designer to come on board, I’d love to hear from you. Check out my services and see if I can help you take your brand to the next level.