On this season of the podcast, some interviewees have been sharing book recommendations. Below, you’ll find a list of favorites, which we’ll add to as new episodes air (or as recommendations come in through other means).
Although these books are recommended by branding experts, they’re not necessarily about branding. Many are not even about business. Instead, several guests have argued, branding professionals should turn to books that are ostensibly unrelated to marketing. Learning about psychology, philosophy, behavioral economics, or science, for example, can provide useful perspective and fresh input for strategists and creative people.
What books have inspired you or informed your approach to brand work? Leave a note in the comments below.
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|Analizzare la Comunicazione and others (recommendation for author)||Andréa Semprini||Erminio Putignano||"Provides a particularly interesting take on how brands work from a semiotic point of view."|
|Brand. Balance. (series of booklets)||Joh & Company||Ana Andjelic||"A series of little booklets ... that explores what iconic brands have done right ... for example, Aesop, or Ikea, or Hoshinoya."|
|The Brand Gap||Marty Neumeier||Dennis Hahn||"[Reading] it was like, 'This makes sense to me. Now I totally get it.'"|
|Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen||Donald Miller||Fabian Geyrhalter||"I thought it was really enlightening."|
|Building the Brand-Driven Business: Operationalize Your Brand to Drive Profitable Growth||Scott M. Davis and Michael Dunn||Denise Lee Yohn||"[It] was foundational to my understanding of brand as business and operationalizing the brand."|
|Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies||Jim Collins and Jerry I. Porras||Denise Lee Yohn||"It’s all about how enduring companies are built."|
|Charles Dickens: The Complete Novels and others (recommendation for author)||Charles Dickens||Alan Brew||"The true strength of a brand strategist or brand consultant is their own life perspective and experience."|
|Confessions of an Advertising Man||David Ogilvy||Marty Neumeier||"He's so smart and erudite."|
|Decoding the New Consumer Mind: How and Why We Shop and Buy||Kit Yarrow||Marty Neumeier||"She's a PhD in consumer psychology."|
|Don't Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate||George Lakoff||David Aaker||"He really gets at the essence of branding and communication. It’s all about framing discussion."|
|Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders||Adam Morgan||Denise Lee Yohn||"His concept of challenger brands still remains today."|
|Fusion: How Integrating Brand and Culture Powers the World's Greatest Companies||Denise Lee Yohn||Dennis Hahn||"She's writing about integrating brand and culture to create really powerful brands and companies."|
|Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies||Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff||Ken Pasternak||"It’s about the rise of social media, its influence on society, and how people interact with it."|
|How Brands Grow: What Marketers Don't Know||Byron Sharp||Tim Riches|
|The Innovator's Hypothesis and others (recommendation for author)||Michael Schrage||Marty Neumeier||"He talks about experimenting ... as a way of innovating [and] is really good on collaboration."|
|Man's Search for Meaning||Viktor Frankl||Alan Brew||"The true strength of a brand strategist or brand consultant is their own life perspective and experience."|
|Mating in Captivity: Unlocking Erotic Intelligence||Esther Perel||Myra El-Bayoumi||"It has nothing to do with branding. It just has to do with humans."|
|The Medium Is the Massage||Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore||Marty Neumeier||"That book was really essential for me."|
|Outliers: The Story of Success||Malcolm Gladwell||Laura Ries||"I think psychology is an incredibly important part of marketing."|
|Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works||Roger Martin and A.G. Lafley||Jeremy Miller||"[It's] my favorite strategy book. It's where those questions 'Where do you play? How do you win?' come from."|
|Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind||Al Ries and Jack Trout||Marty Neumeier, Jeremy Miller, Dennis Hahn||Marty: "[Ries and Trout] were the ones that really set me off on this path."|
|Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions||Dan Ariely||Caren Williams||"I really enjoy things that are about the insights that drive the behavior that then you build the brand around."|
|Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind||Yuval Noah Harari||Allen Adamson||"I try to read books about ... anything to get out of my bubble."|
|Six Memos for the Next Millennium||Italo Calvino||Erminio Putignano||"It's interesting to see how a particular idea can be dissected, analyzed..."|
|Thinking, Fast and Slow||Daniel Kahneman||Tim Riches|
|This is Service Design Thinking: Basics, Tools, Cases||Marc Stickdorn and Jakob Schneider||Ana Andjelic||"[It] talks about how to design different touchpoints where the company and the customers meet beyond just the usual ones."|
|Tilt: Shifting Your Strategy from Products to Customers||Niraj Dawar||Marty Neumeier||"He's saying the same thing I'm saying but he's using more traditional business language."|
|The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference||Malcolm Gladwell||Laura Ries||"I think psychology is an incredibly important part of marketing."|
|The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds||Michael Lewis||Alan Brew||"[It's] about how people make decisions."|
|Up the Organization: How to Stop the Corporation from Stifling People and Strangling Profits||Robert C. Townsend||Adam Morgan||"It’s just a cracking read, even now."|
|Value Proposition Design: How to Create Products and Services Customers Want||Alexander Osterwalder, Yves Pigneur, Gregory Bernarda, Alan Smith, and Trish Papadakos||Ana Andjelic||"I found [it] useful ... talking about building the relationship and putting forward the way to improve one's experience, one's lifestyle, and so on."|
|Who Says Elephants Can't Dance||Louis. V. Gerstner||David Aaker||"The story of [Lou Gerstner] taking over IBM."|
|Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping||Paco Underhill||Caren Williams||It talks about "why we reach for things on the middle shelf versus the lower shelf. It was fundamental to me."|
|Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands and others (recommendation for author)||Marty Neumeier||Fabian Geyrhalter||"Obviously, anything by Marty Neumeier. If his name is on it, you've got to get it."|
This Useful List will be updated periodically with new list items. Please share any suggested additions in the comments section.