9 Branding Design & Identity Books That Will Make You a Better Marketer

by Meg Prater

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What sets good marketers apart from the great ones? Well, realistically it’s many things, but among them is an insatiable desire to learn. Whether it’s making their way through an RSS feed, keeping up with thought leaders on social media, or devouring an endless array of marketing and branding books (not for the faint of heart), great marketers are always looking for new things to learn.

You’re spending a precious few minutes reading a marketing blog, so it’s not a stretch to peg you as a marketer unsatisfied with punching the proverbial clock and heading home. To help feed your curiosity, we’ve put together a list of 9 branding books that will make you a better marketer. Enjoy, and let us know if we’ve left out any of your favorites!

1. Sticky Branding: 12.5 Principles to Stand Out, Attract Customers, and Grow an Incredible Brand, by Jeremy Miller

Sticky Branding book

Named after his brand building agency, Sticky Branding, Jeremy Miller’s book takes a deep dive into what makes companies like Apple, Nike, and Starbucks recognizable and successful. Based on a decade of research, Sticky Branding shares tried-and-true strategies for building a brand that’s anything but ordinary. Buy it here.

“Sticky Brands bring together purpose, vision, customer service, passion, operational excellence, and strategy to deliver remarkable customer experiences. Customers don’t beat a path to the company’s door because of its marketing. Marketing hype scratches off quickly. Customers seek out Sticky Brands — and come back again and again — because those companies offer a compelling service and a memorable experience.”


2. Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits, by Debbie Millman

Brand Thinking book

Millman, president of the design division at Sterling Brands, interviews 22 subjects for her exploration into brand thinking. From Malcolm Gladwell to Seth Godin, each chapter is a deeply informed conversation between Millman and fellow branding heavyweights. The result is an insightful page-turner you’ll have trouble putting down. Buy it here.

“The notion of the ‘brand,’ like any concept that dominates markets and public consciousness, is a challenge to define. Is it a simple differentiator of the cereals in our cupboards, a manipulative brainwashing tool forced on us by corporations, or a creative triumph as capable as any art form of stimulating our emotions and intellect?”


3. The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design, by Marty Neumeier

The Brand Gap book

Looking for a book that presents a unified theory on brand-building? You’ve come to the right place. Neumeier takes a look at both the strategic and creative approaches to crafting a “charismatic brand” that’s essential to your consumer’s life. Buy it here.

“A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product, service, or company. It’s a GUT FEELING because we are all emotional, intuitive beings, despite our best efforts to be rational. It’s a PERSON’s gut feeling, because in the end the brand is defined by individuals, not by companies, markets, or the so-called general public.” “Each person creates his or her own version of it. While companies can’t control this process, they can influence it by communicating the qualities that make this product different than that product. When enough individuals arrive at the same gut feeling, a company can be said to have a brand.”


4. Ogilvy on Advertising, by David Ogilvy

Ogilvy on Advertising book

If there’s a book on this list that needs no introduction, it’s Ogilvy on Advertising. This book, from the father of advertising himself, is a must-read for brand marketers. It provides an essential overview of all aspects of advertising, from how to get a job at an agency to writing great copy. Just like you have to watch “A Christmas Story” around the holidays, this is one of the branding books you have to read when you get into marketing. Buy it here.

“Most campaigns are too complicated. They reflect a long list of objectives, and try to reconcile the divergent views of too many executives. By attempting to cover too many things, they achieve nothing. Many commercials and many advertisements look like the minutes of a committee. In my experience, committees can criticize, but they cannot create. Search the parks in all your cities You’ll find no statues of committees’ Agencies.”


5. What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest, by Denise Lee Yohn

What Great Brands Do book

Lee Yohn’s revered book breaks down the science of how great brands are built. She shares seven key principles that the world’s best brands implement consistently. Plus you’ll review case studies from brands including GE and IKEA. And Lee Yohn outlines strategies your company can start using right away for a better, stronger brand. Buy it here.

“Creating a Brand Toolbox is an important first step in fostering a strong brand culture, but the managers of great brands know that simply producing brand content and tools is not enough. They stage Brand Engagement Sessions featuring hands-on exercises and immersive experiences to ensure that brand understanding is followed with appropriate actions and decision making by their staff.”


6. Brand Leadership: Building Assets In an Information Economy, by David A. Aaker and Erich Joachimsthaler

Brand Leadership book

Packed with helpful diagrams, infographics, and incredibly entertaining storytelling, this book breaks down how to create an impactful brand identity. Learn from case studies highlighting Virgin Airlines, Adidas, McDonald’s, and more as the authors share how to break out of the clutter with a strong brand architecture. Buy it here.

“A brand strategy can enable, sometimes crucially, the potential of an innovation to be realised. There are times when you literally need to brand it or lose it.”


7. Archetypes in Branding: A Toolkit for Creatives and Strategists, by Margaret Hartwell

Archetypes in Branding book

Building your first brand? You NEED this book. This interactive kit helps identify your brand’s motivations, how it moves in the world, and why it attracts particular customers. With a companion deck of 60 archetype cards, you’ll be able to nail down exactly who your brand is and how it communicates. Buy it here.

“Archetypes work because they bring a humanness to the essence of brand. They create shortcuts to making meaning and create relationships, because they create instant emotional impact which creates instant affinity.”


8. The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes, by Margaret Mark and Carol S. Pearson

The Herp and the Outlaw book

Mark and Pearson reveal how brand meaning works, how to manage it, and how to use brand meaning strategically. By sharing studies of Nike, Ivory, and other well-known brands, the authors break down the fundamental patterns that rule consumer’s minds. Plus they share how successful brands leverage those archetypes for better branding. Buy it here.

“The new breed of consumer is not as trusting, as loyal, or as malleable as those of the past.”


9. Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, by Alina Wheeler

Designing Brand Identity book

This book offers up a five-phase process for the creation and implementation of an impactful brand identity. Case studies and data highlight these steps. And you’ll get a unique look into the latest trends in branding, from social networks to apps, video, and more. Buy it here.

“Brand is the promise, the big idea, the expectations that reside in each customer’s mind about a product, service or company. Branding is about making an emotional connection.”


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