What are the must-have books on brand development?


There are books for every topic which most in the field consider definitive or must-haves. For instance, for usability and application design, Designing the Obvious, Don't Meke Me Think, and The Inmates Are Running the Asylum are considered authoritative titles.

But what are the equivalents for the field of brand development? I've come across Brand Advocate: A Strategy-Driven Workbook by Bill Nissim and Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler, but I haven't seen any reviews for them.

I'm particularly interested in workbooks or textbooks that explain practical techniques and detailed processes which business owners and marketers can directly apply for their own brand analysis and brand development or rebranding. Though if there are some books on branding theory that are considered definitive, then I'd be open to those as well.

Marketing Books Learning Branding

asked Dec 1 '10 at 16:34
Calvin Huang
126 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll

3 Answers


The classic in this field is Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Ries and Trout.

answered Dec 2 '10 at 13:29
Joel Spolsky
13,482 points
  • Thanks Joel. I hadn't heard of this title, but I'll definitely be checking it out. – Calvin Huang 13 years ago


For a recent book that's broad, engaging, and gives enough guidelines, checklists, and action points to be immediately useful, I'd recommend Zag: The #1 Strategy of High Performance Brands. It is much more enjoyable to use than marketing textbook-classics like Kotler's, though you may want to read those too if you need to talk to business-school people.

Here's the 17-step/question process Zag will take you through:

  1. Who Are You?
  2. What Do You Do?
  3. What's Your Vision?
  4. What Wave Are You Riding?
  5. Who Shares the Brandscape?
  6. What Makes You the "Only"?
  7. What Should You Add or Subtract?
  8. Who Loves You?
  9. Who's the Enemy?
  10. What Do They Call You?
  11. How Do You Explain Yourself?
  12. How Do You Spread the Word?
  13. How Do People Engage With You?
  14. What Do They Experience?
  15. How Do You Earn Their Loyalty?
  16. How Do You Extend Your Success?
  17. How Do You Protect Your Portfolio?

As a final note, I've yet to see a better treatment of how to name your brand than is presented in the book. Here's their list of 7 name guidelines; the ideal name is,

  1. Different from those of competitors
  2. Brief, 4 syllables or less
  3. Appropriate, but not so descriptive that it sounds generic
  4. Easy to spell
  5. Satisfying to pronounce
  6. Suitable for "brandplay"
  7. Legally defensible

Hope that helps!

answered Dec 3 '10 at 07:00
218 points


Kellog on Branding by Tim Calkins and Alice Tybout is a branding classic, along with the already mentioned Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout.

A less known marketing book that I can't say enough good things about is Marketing Metaphoria: What Deep Metaphors Reveal About the Minds of Consumers, by Gerald and Lindsey Zaltman. This book had me thinking much deeper about branding than anything I have read before.

answered Dec 5 '10 at 05:37
Karl Krantz
334 points

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