Top 3 Brand Strategy Books

All I want for Christmas is to spend time with my family, to be truthful.

But since, in the UK, Boris has allowed us only 5 days, I’m also thinking about the books on my Christmas wishlist. 

I LOVE a new branding or business book.

(I warned you before – I truly am a Brand Strategy Geek).

If you’re the same, find my top 3 recommendations below. 

Best Brand Strategy Books 

1. GROW: How Ideals Power Growth and Profit At The World’s 50 Greatest Companies – Jim Stengel.

Puts stats behind the importance of brand strategy, includes big brand case studies (think Pampers, Discovery, Method) and tells you what it takes to implement a brand strategy successfully.

Here’s a few gems from this one:

“Maximum growth and high ideals are not incompatible. They’re inseparable.”

“The most powerful and profitable tools in business are ideals – ideas for improving people’s lives that speak directly to their instincts, emotions, hopes, dreams and values.” 

“The one sure mistake you can make is failing to aim high.  If you are not ambitious enough to want to make a positive difference in people’s lives, you won’t make a big positive difference in your business’s bottom line either.”

“A business leader’s greatest leverage lies in rallying employees and customers alike to an ideal of improving people’s lives.” 

2. The Power of Moments – Chip Heath & Dan Heath

If you’re working on a service brand, or you just want to know what it takes to create extraordinary experiences for your customers or employees, this is a great read.

The premise is captured in these 3 quotes:

“The surprise about great service experiences is that they are mostly forgettable, and occasionally remarkable…. The ‘occasionally remarkable’ moments shouldn’t be left to chance!”

“The first stage of a successful customer experience: first you fill the pits. That in turn, frees you up to focus on the second stage: creating the moments that will make the experience “occasionally remarkable.” Fill pits, then build peaks. What’s striking, though, is that many business leaders never pivot to that second stage. Instead, having filled the pits in their service, they scramble to pave the potholes – the minor problems and annoyances.  It’s as though the leaders aspire to create a complaint-free service, rather than an extraordinary one.”

“To create fans, you need the remarkable, and that requires peaks. Peaks don’t emerge naturally. They must be built.”

 Using financial modelling from Forrester’s US Customer Experience Index, they show that if you focus on elevating the positives, vs. focus eliminating the negatives in a customer experience, then you’ll earn about 9 times more revenue. 

If you’ve ever dived into Daniel Kahneman’s thinking (like his TED talk on The Riddle of Experience vs Memory), this book helps you understand how to implement it.

They spend most of the book talking through how to build these peaks – through 4 elements -  elevation, insight, pride, and/or connection - that they split into four chapters.  They relate their advice not only to customer experience, but also employee experiences, and even our own life experiences. 

Hoteliers – this is a must read, not just because of the popsicle hotline story…

3. Obsessed: Building A Brand People Love From Day One – Emily Heyward.

Talks about the importance of brand strategy for start-ups, gives you some useful tips on how to do brand strategy, and includes some fascinating, recent case studies (e.g., Airbnb, Casper, Glossier, SoulCycle, Thinkx).

Love these quotes in particular: 

“In today’s landscape, when consumers have more choice, knowledge and power than ever before, you have to approach branding with integrity from the beginning. Before you even start to think about your logo, you need to figure out what you’re aiming to do for people and how you want them to feel as a result.”

“On the surface, a business exists to solve a functional problem… But underneath these functional needs are core drivers, the universal things that people care about. All the best brands tap into these deeper human needs, beyond the functional, in one way or another.”

"Consumers fall in love with brands because of the ongoing, positive role these brands play in their lives. That's why it's so important to get it right from the beginning, and to continue to breathe life into your brand as it grows. You need a clear sense of purpose that will guide all decisions and behaviour, and you have to find new and surprising ways to express that purpose. You need to create valuable, memorable, delightful experiences at every step. Ultimately, obsession comes when you build a brand that's 100 per cent in service of its audience." 

“Among the next generation of leading businesses, the best are thinking about their brand’s purpose before they even launch.  They seek to create a better experience that starts with their business model and extends to how they communicate and behave.”

If you’re just beginning to think about your brand purpose, or you want to learn how to help client’s create theirs, then here’s my Christmas gift to you: a free mini-course, Brand Strategy in 7 Simple Steps.  

Merry early Christmas!

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