t Marketing Books for Developing A Brand Strategy

Best Marketing Books for Developing A Brand Strategy

By Staff Writer
In March 7, 2013

I first started reading marketing books back in the day when they were brief and didn’t task my short attention span. I could usually take away one good idea or marketing insight in about 15 minutes, although that was hardly worth $14.99.

Today, the books highlighted below are staples for me in my branding role at Melamed Riley and are what I consider some of the best marketing books out there. I found each one to be filled with insights coming from totally different perspectives. I reference them often and wish they were longer.


Truth and Lies About Why We Buy
By Martin Lindstrom

I have to admit, the gimmicky title first drew me into this book. As it turns out, the title is in no way a gimmick but rather a great description of the methodology and results for each of the marketing topics included. It could be called “The Biology of Buying,” but that’s not very sexy unless you’re a real diehard research person (I am not really).

The book’s premise is that the key to understanding consumer motivation and behavior lies at the mysterious subconscious level. The author points out how difficult it is to research people at this level since we don’t understand, or even acknowledge, how our own subconscious influences our behavior. Hence, more scientific, “biological methods” like neurology are used to answer some age old questions about the effectiveness of product placement, rituals and sex in advertising, to name a few.

How Brands Become Icons

How Brands Become Icons
The Principles of Cultural Branding
By Douglas B. Holt

This is a huge, multidimensional and enigmatic topic for anyone to tackle. The author crushed it. The definition of an iconic brand, in of itself, is a major contribution to the branding world from this reading. The work is full of relevant, fascinating case study examples ranging from Harley-Davidson (of course) to Budweiser to the Volkswagen Beetle. Along with the marketing insight throughout, it’s a great historical view of US pop culture from World War II to the present.

What I found most insightful is that an iconic brand creates its own myth and following by representing a cultural contradiction. Since culture is evolving, an iconic brand must always be looking ahead for the next contradiction it can be part of. Kind of a risky and demanding brand position.

All Marketers Are Liars

All Marketers Are Liars
The Underground Classic That Explains How Marketing Really Works — and Why Authenticity Is the Best Marketing of All
By Seth Godin

Once again, I was drawn in by the title. After reading the book however, the reality is that marketers should lie more. Not really, but by understanding the stories that consumers want to believe in, we can better fit our brand into that story (whether it is a factually true story or not).

My favorite “lie” is that wine tastes better when served in the proper glass. Expert wine tasters would all agree. The author points out that scientific testing, where subjects did not know the shape of the glass, show no taste differences between glasses. A lot of money has been made by creating and fitting into this “lie.”

The 22 Immutable Laws Of Branding

The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding
How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand
By Al Ries and Laura Ries

I have had this book for quite some time and whenever I pick it up, it’s new again and relevant. Although some of the brand examples are dated, the laws are not. This is a “pocket-sized” handbook that you can take with you wherever you go in case you are in a jam and need a quick, visceral, telegraphic answer to a branding question (there should be an app for it).

While the laws are Marketing 101-level, simple and agreeably immutable, they have been broken many, many, many times. Maybe that’s the charm of this book and why it will always be relevant.

Some others I have that are always within reach:

Brand Relevance

Brand Relevance
Making Competitors Irrelevant
By David A Aaker


The Future of Your Company Depends on It
By Al Ries

Passion Brands

Passion Brands
Why Some Brands Are Just Gotta Have, Drive All Night For, and Tell All Your Friends About
By Kate Newlin

What's Your BQ

What’s Your BQ™
Learn How 35 Companies Add Customers, Subtract Competitors, and Multiply Profits with Brand Quotient™
By Sandra Sellani

All of these books are “pinned” on a Partners Riley Pinterest board titled “Best Marketing Books.”

Have you read any great marketing books lately? If so, I would love some new book recommendations to add to my reading list — leave me your best marketing book recommendation in the comments section below.

Staff Writer

So who is this mysterious staff writer? Could be anyone really, as long as they meet our very strict criteria. 1) Worked with us in one capacity or another. 2) Have something pretty interesting to say. 3) Want to use our blog to say it. See? Told ya they were strict!