Essential Books for Brand Designers
For me personally, books are my go-to when I'm stuck in a creative drought. I grew up adoring books, and still now as an adult, champion consistently expanding my knowledge. My Amazon wishlist grows daily, but this past few years, I've collected a lot of books tailored to designers & creatives. From brand strategy, to design inspiration, these guys are the 5 must-haves on your bookshelf! I'm looking at mine right now above my office desk, ready to pull one by one the next time I lack inspiration!
1. BUILDING A STORY BRAND
I'm kicking this off with my favourite of the bunch when it comes to brand strategy. Building A Story Brand by Donald Miller. This book is absolute gold and changed the way I not only worked as a designer but also how I work as a marketer with my clients. Donald highlights his 'StoryBrand' framework in this book, consisting of 7 main steps. In short, the book teaches us how to clarify our brand messaging. The big takeaway being that too many businesses keep themselves at the heart of their brand story, how good they are, that they specialise in XYZ. But the key to clear brand messaging is that the customer is the heart of the story. This book rewires your brain to angle your brand (no matter what you do) in championing the customer as the hero of your story. That the brand is the guide, who helps the customer (hero) solve a problem. Without giving much more away, this book truly reframed my mind on marketing. It helps me in my brand & web designing, my copywriting & my marketing consultancy. A true 10 out of 10 in our eyes.
2. CREATING A BRAND IDENTITY
Next up, Creating a Brand Identity by Catharine Slade-Brooking. This book highlights the big buzzwords & the process for building true brand identities. It takes you step-by-step through the identity process, as well as some case studies. First, it goes through all theoretical contexts of branding, why we do it & why we need a strategy. It then covers the anatomy of branding, the vocabulary & terminology used in the branding world, which is great if you're a new designer. Finally, it covers the practical angles of branding, the process of branding & the methodology used by other agencies in all stages of branding. The book heavily features imagery throughout all the steps, and we definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn more about the overall branding process from beginning to end!
3. THE HERO AND THE OUTLAW
This is a larger read but another essential. The Hero and The Outlaw by Margaret Mark & Carol S. Pearson. This book covers absolutely everything you need to know about Brand Archetypes. If you don't know, Brand Archetypes are essentially a category/system used to identify every brand in the world. Just like your favourite story or movie falls into a genre, brands also have their own unique category, known in the design world as a Brand Archetype. In the book's terms, they are a system of meaning management. Once you identify your brand under an archetype, you unlock the true power that will help you in all touchpoints of your brand. It's something we recommend any brand designer learn, and this book perfectly educates you on all 12 archetypes. If you're hungry to become a true brand strategist, this one is essential for your collection!
4. BOOK OF BRANDING
This one, visually, is one of my absolute favourites. Book of Branding by Radim Malinic, of BrandNu Studio. BrandNu is a London based Branding & Creative Studio. Radim published this gem back in 2019, and I turn to it quite often still in my day to day work. This one is another essential to anyone new or experienced in the world of branding. It's a guide designed for entrepreneurs, designers & brand creators. It's packed full of all the terms & processes essential in the brand-building process but explained in a very jargon-free tone, which makes it super easy to pick up all the key steps. It's a great introduction book to branding, and again visually is just beautiful. BrandNu's work is stunningly showcased throughout this book, and even once you learn all the knowledge, it's an amazing book to turn back to when seeking inspiration. A fun bonus, BrandNu also have two other books published: 'Book of Ideas' Volume 1 & 2, which as the name suggests, are packed full of visual inspiration for projects of all kind!
5. IDENTITY DESIGNED
Identity Designed: The Definitive Guide to Visual Branding, by David Airey. This is a designer's must-have coffee table book. It's big, hardback & classically designed which already puts it as one of my office favourites. But inside contains a fountain of knowledge. Redefining what it is to have a true brand identity, this book contains a collection of projects from the world's most talented designers & studios, so you never get bored exploring this one! It covers a bunch of projects of all kinds, and designers top tips on not only branding but the process of client work, pricing, research methods, style guides, strategy work & more. This is a book that I display right beside my computer, because every time I dig back into it, I'm marking more and more pages to refer back to that contain golden nuggets of information & tips!
A lot to take in, I know! But these 5 books are for sure going to help you a long way in the world of branding! I've taken so much from each of these books, that I use daily in my client work.
Have you got a must-have branding book not listed? Connect with us on Instagram & let us know. We love a good book haul over there!