Branding books that might actually help you brand

There’s a Meet-Up group here in Denver called Brand Café where 15-20 persons discuss a branding topic each month. This month our leader, Rex Whisman, suggested each of us bring in our favorite book on branding. It was to be a book we consider basic to our education as branders. Upon reading this notice, I immediately emailed asking the question: “must we limit it to one only?”

There are so many good ones available today.

I almost instantly thought of three books whose principles I’ve come to use in helping my clients develop their brands.
Three highly recommended branding books
So I went with them, even though right on the heels of my initial selections, three more titles popped into my consciousness.

Here are the first three books that have been the most useful in helping me help my clients fashion strong brands. I’ll blog about the second three next week.


by Allen P. Adamson, Managing Director of Landon Associates lays out some brand principles and a process that begins with establishing your brand idea. Then you can capsulate that basic idea – really get to the nub of it by creating a “brand driver”. Then he speaks to employee involvement: buying in to and participating in the branding process. Not until then does he introduce branding elements – first the name and then the other, relevant elements. The book also introduced me to a tool Adamson calls the “Customer Journey”. It’s a map showing the various touchpoints in the brand-customer relationship, beginning with first introduction through using and endorsing the brand. This process identifies customer and prospect mind sets along the various main paths from intro to evangelist (or critic). The book is as simple in organization as it is in message. Highly recommended.

Blue Ocean Strategy

by W. Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne was a business book best seller a few years back – and with good reason. First, it’s not strictly a book on branding. It’s a book on creating a company that, as the subtitle suggests, shows “How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant”. And the authors really deliver. From a brander’s perspective, Blue Ocean Strategy is a primer on differentiation. By using the techniques expressed within these pages, the basic work of developing a brand platform and the brand driver (see BrandSimple) are presented as a by-product of this corporate strategy. I find the “Strategy Canvas” introduced in Blue Ocean Strategy to be helpful with even the smallest clients who usually begin the process believing their business is just like their competitors. This is just a beautiful presentation of how to create an exceptional business – and its associated brand.

The Infinite Asset

by Sam Hill and Chris Lederer is on this list because I find its “Brand Portfolio Molecule” a great way to analyze, develop and present a company’s brands in relation to one another, and with other brand associations like sponsorships, joint ventures and personalities. Although I’ve not had an opportunity to use all the features of the portfolio molecule with my base of smaller clients, the authors promise this tool is useful in many ways: identifying your lead brand in the eyes of customers, finds “holes” in a product line, helps judge the health of a brand, helps balance the portfolio, gauges the relationship between corporate and product brands, helps determine metrics and their measurement, I have found it most useful in demonstrating the great number of associations a brand may collect over time, and determining which are to be nourished and which weeded out.

That’s just a paragraph on each of three books I consider outstanding. If you click on the titles, you’ll be directed to Amazon where you can buy them, and if you do, I’ll receive a small, and I mean small, commission.

Incidentally, if you live in the metro Denver area, you are welcome to attend a Brand Café get-together. Just go to for more info and to sign up.

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