Today, Wednesday September 6th is “Read a book” Day and September is “read a new book” month. So, with the inspiration to read, below is a list of books that marketers often refer to as favorites.
These first couple are considered classics, and they have updated editions that bring in marketing on the internet and through social.
1. "How Brands Grow by Byron Sharp" – There is a 1st edition from 2010 as well as a part 2 from 2015. Both of these books are very practical. The first book addresses marketing basics, including how brands grow, how advertising really works, what price promotions really do and how loyalty programs really affect loyalty. The later book focuses on how to create “mental availability” in your customers, and offers the metrics to assess the strength of your brand's distinct assets along with a framework for your brand's physical availability strategy.
If you are thinking, “I know these basics inside and out” or you just don’t have time to read, a high-level summary of the books can be found here.
2. "Designing a Brand Identity" by Alina Wheeler has several editions, and coming in October 2017, the 5th edition will be released - "Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team." She presents a five-phase process for creating and implementing effective brand identity. The latest edition is reported to add more guidance around “social media cross channel synergy, crowdsourcing, SEO, experience branding, mobile devices, wayfinding, and placemaking.” Also in this latest edition she will present 30 new case studies.
3. Marc Gobé’s first book was “10 Commandments of Emotional Branding” and "Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People" is his updated version with analysis of how social medial supported Obama’s presidential win. Gobé discusses “how the idea behind Twitter is transforming our civilization,” which is more germane than ever.
4. Father-daughter team, Al and Laura Rie’s "The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding" is a marketing classic and a relatively quick read. The authors share 22 “laws” that get a brand name to leap through today’s clutter into the buying hands of consumers. They give examples from companies such as Harley-Davidson, Heinz, Rolex, Volvo, and Heineken, which exemplify their best practices.
And if you don’t have time for this short read, here’s a slide share summary.
They also wrote “The 11 Immutable Laws of Internet Branding,” which has more of a focus on…well, the obvious, as their first book lacks depth in this area.
5. Another often-referred to book is "Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers" by Seth Godin. Originally published in 1999, he released an updated edition in 2007. A decade is a long time in marketing, but there are still golden nuggets that ring true today. His main premise is, “By reaching out only to those individuals who have signaled an interest in learning more about a product, Permission Marketing enables companies to develop long-term relationships with customers, create trust, build brand awareness -- and greatly improve the chances of making a sale.” He contrasts this with what he calls “Interruption Marketing,” – a more old-fashioned type of marketing where the brand interrupts and steals a prospective customer’s time. How much of your strategy is “permission marketing” vs. “interruption marketing”? Do you have the right balance?
Godin explains, “Permission Marketing is just like dating. It turns strangers into friends and friends into lifetime customers. Many of the rules of dating apply, and so do many of the benefits.”
These next few books strive to give the reader step-by-step directions for achieving marketing success.
6. Denise Yohn’s "What Great Brands Do: The Seven Brand-Building Principles that Separate the Best from the Rest" claims to be a “blueprint for launching any brand to meteoric heights,” and while that’s a hard to achieve, this book is filled with suggestions for where to start.
7. David A. Aaker in his book "Building Strong Brands" claims that “a common pitfall of brand strategists is to focus on brand attributes,” and using case studies he goes through brand-as-person, brand-as-organization, and brand-as-symbol perspectives. Aaker also walks through “how to manage the "brand system" to achieve clarity and synergy, to adapt to a changing environment, and to leverage brand assets into new markets and products.”
8. Another book that aims to provide applicable tactics is "Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products" by Nir Eyal. Eyal explains what he calls “Hook Model—a four-step process embedded into the products of many successful companies to subtly encourage customer behavior.” His goal in was to write a how-to book – how to create a success product. There are also interesting tidbits of information on his blog.
Marketing can’t ignore how integral customers are, and how much customer service affects marketing. Great and terrible customer service will lead to customers being your loudest marketing mouthpiece. That brings me to the next book on this list.
9. "Hug Your Haters: How to Embrace Complaints and Keep Your Customers." This newer book (2016), by Jay Baer, starts by analyzing a study on of how, where, and why people complain about companies, and gives a playbook on how to deal with what the author calls “onstage haters” and “offstage haters.” Baer also shares why engaging with disgruntled customers is worth the effort, despite the aggravation.
And finally, a culmination of where marketing minds are:
10. "Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits" is a collection of conversations between Debbie Millman and marketing experts -- including Seth Godin, mentioned in this list. With each conversation, Millman is trying to get clarity on the “state of modern branding and how companies and consumers can best understand the behavior behind why we brand and why we buy.”
A couple quotes from her interviews:
"The notion of making things special and the identification of something as special or unique - and the relationship to that thing as special and unique - are the heart of worship and the heart of creativity itself." - Dori Tunstall
"Consumers want to know what the company's intent is. I think they want to know that now more than they ever have before." - Margaret Youngblood