Top 10 Books on Branding No Branding Designer Should Miss

Discover the essential reading list for every branding designer with our curated selection of the top 10 books on branding.

Top 10 Books on Branding No Branding Designer Should Miss - Clay

Branding is no longer just about making products stand out. In this modern, highly competitive market, branding can make or break a business and is responsible for everything from creating an emotional impact on customers to forming an identity for the company. With such high stakes, it’s no wonder that design has become an over one hundred billion dollar industry and that designers are in such high demand.

However, it can be hard to remain relevant in such a populated and fast-moving field. To stay successful, a good brand designer should have a foundation of valuable skills that they’re willing to build off from in the long term, learning more whenever they’re able, and always being on the lookout for new perspectives and inspiration. Reading books by experts in the field can be a great way to allow designers to gain insights and stay on top of trends.

Top of Mind: Use Content to Unleash Your Influence and Engage Those Who Matter to You by John Hall

Hall, the co-founder of Influence & Co., is in charge of a thriving content marketing agency. Their focus? Creating collaborative experiences that make brands stand out. In "Top of the Mind," Hall provides a step-by-step process, guiding readers on how to use specific content marketing strategies to stay ahead of the competition.

Brand Thinking and Other Noble Pursuits by Debbie Millman

Check out "Brand Thinking" by Debbie Millman, the co-founder of the first-ever branding graduate program. This one-of-a-kind book takes a multi-faceted and engaging approach to marketing. Each chapter delves into the minds of various industry experts, such as Malcolm Gladwell, Wally Olins, Seth Godin, and many others. Through insightful interviews, "Brand Thinking" investigates what drives consumers and sheds light on their purchasing behaviors. Get ready to gain a deeper understanding of your audience's motivations!

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message, So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller

We highly recommend Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, CEO of the titular marketing company, for insights into brand messaging. For years, StoryBrand has held popular workshops and conferences. Still, the book puts into words the seven critical elements of telling a story to create a comprehensive brand message and connect with clients.

The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader: How to Succeed by Building Customer and Company Value by Thomas Barta & Patrick Barwise

Get ready to dive into the collective wisdom of Thomas Barta, a former partner at McKinsey, and Patrick Barwise, a seasoned professor of management and marketing at the London Business School. The 12 Powers of a Marketing Leader is no ordinary book - it's a goldmine of insights derived from the authors' vast experiences and the experiences of over 8,000 leaders from across the globe. Through extensive research, this dynamic duo has identified 12 key behaviors that profoundly impact career success. Now, they present these invaluable findings in a book that every marketer should have in their arsenal.

Brand Identity Breakthrough: How to Craft Your Company's Unique Story to Make Your Products Irresistible by Gregory Diehl

After working for decades to help small businesses grow, Gregory V. Diehl brings his years of experience to this helpful book on crafting a company identity and implementing it with intelligent strategies. Using real-life success stories as examples, Brand Identity Breakthrough helps outline how businesses can set themselves apart, making it a great inspiration for any company or designer.

Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets by Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, Kevin Maney

Written by the four founders of Play Bigger Advisors, Play Bigger addresses the undertaking of reimaging what already exists and trailblazing in an already highly innovative market. An indispensable and inspiring work on thinking outside the box, the book backs up its insights with research on some of the needs of big hitters like Amazon and Uber and how they got to be the giants they are today by carving out their categories.

Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team by Alina Wheeler

If you choose just one book from this list, this is definitely the one. Designing Brand Identity serves as the ultimate handbook for designers, encompassing more than 100 branding topics, and was among the initial books to dissect the process into a more straightforward five-step approach that's easy to grasp.

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

Almost any of Seth Godin’s 19 bestselling books will be ripe with inspiration for a designer, but Marketing is a prevalent one that focuses on creating connections and trust with consumers. Having been inducted into not one, not two, but three marketing halls of fame, Godin is one of the biggest names in the industry and is a go-to source of insight that every designer should know.

Explosive Growth: A Few Things I Learned While Growing To 100 Million Users - And Losing $78 Million by Cliff Lerner

If you’re looking to be inspired about growing a small business into a million-dollar corporation, this is your book. Cliff Lerner, co-founder and former CEO of software and social media company Snap Interactive, takes a no-holds-barred approach to telling the story of his company’s success and all the failures there were along the way. In Explosive Growth, Lerner provides excellent lessons about successful marketing strategies and tells an engaging story, making it an exciting and intellectual read.

Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

You've probably come across Simon Sinek's immensely popular Ted Talk called "Start with Why," but "Start with Why." The book further explores how brands discover their purpose and gain clarity on their actions. If you still need to dive into this impactful read with millions of others, now's the perfect opportunity.


Trends in the marketing industry come and go in the blink of an eye. But with the right tried-and-true tools, a designer can weather the storm of any fad and find their place in this increasingly competitive field. The best way to build up this toolkit is with the advice of experts who know the strategies that have stood the test of time. With these books and their words of wisdom in hand, any designer will feel more prepared to understand customers' needs and how to fulfill them in the best and most innovative ways.

About Clay

Clay is a UI/UX design & branding agency in San Francisco. We team up with startups and leading brands to create transformative digital experience. Clients: Facebook, Slack, Google, Amazon, Credit Karma, Zenefits, etc.

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About Clay

Clay is a UI/UX design & branding agency in San Francisco. We team up with startups and leading brands to create transformative digital experience. Clients: Facebook, Slack, Google, Amazon, Credit Karma, Zenefits, etc.

Learn more

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