My 7 Must-Read Branding + Business Books
Books 👏🏼 are 👏🏼 the 👏🏼 best 👏🏼. (And yes, although they're not my style, audiobooks DO count as reading!).
Seriously. The depth of knowledge that a $10-$30 business book can get you (if it's not one of those repetitive, Apple-is everything, filled with fluff type ones) just doesn't compare to blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, you name it.
As someone who reads for an average of 90 minutes a day, I can say wholeheartedly that reading has changed the course of my business FAST—here's a list of my favorite branding and business-related books:
Building A Story Brand
Starting off with a classic, this one is a must-read for not only brand designers but any entrepreneur, marketer, or product designer.
The way to a human's heart (or level of deep understanding) is through stories. When you frame your product/business/brand through the lens of a story, all sorts of magic happens. This magic = the growing success of your brand (and revenue!).
Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
If you're any sort of business owner, read this book.
As a business, when you articulate WHY you do what you do before explaining WHAT you do and HOW you do it, people's ears perk up (as opposed to instinctively shutting you out, like the other 4,000 - 10,000 ads they see per day on average).
Beyond just successfully marketing your brand, this book helps you find a greater purpose in the work that you do every day. Having a strong understanding of your "why" helps you more easily make decisions in your business, identify which opportunities are right for you, and attract clients/customers that could really be helped by what you offer.
This book was truly one of my favorites, and I'd probably recommend starting with this one!
The 12 Week Year
This one is somewhat of a recent find for me and has been SUCH a game changer.
If you're like me, you're a dreamer. You have all these big ideas that sound amazing. You have so much fun brainstorming and setting up a plan to implement these ideas. However, when it comes to actually implementing them...it never seems to pan out!
How frustrating, right? This has been a big source of insecurity for me in my business lately.
Cue The 12 Week Year, which breaks down how to ACTUALLY get stuff done by mapping it out clearly into a 12-week plan of attack that keeps you accountable day-by-day.
Since reading this book and setting up a simple system in Notion for tracking these 12-week goals, I've gotten SO much back-burner stuff done in my biz. It makes my brain so happy to check things off each week (and even getting ahead of the weekly plan). And, it's not overwhelming to make this change, which means it'll actually be sustainable in the long run.
The Referral Engine: Teaching Your Business to Market Itself
Although a tad bit outdated (I think I remember faxing being mentioned non-ironically at some point), this book still provided a relevant + valuable overview of how to market your business.
The title is a bit misleading—this one covered way more than just how to build a referral program. It's more like "How to Build a Business That's So Awesome It'll Get a Ton of Referrals".
The business world is really cool to me because when it comes down to it, it's all about people offering their unique skills, knowledge, and experience to help others...help others. This book covers in-depth the entire customer life cycle and how to show up in an authentic way that 1. keeps your customers hooked and 2. builds exponential business growth via organic referrals.
Again, this one's not just for brand designers—any sort of entrepreneurial soul would find a lot of value in this one.
Secrets of the Millionaire Mind: Mastering the Inner Game of Wealth
Yes, you created your business primarily to help others, but it's also true that a big part of being an entrepreneur centers around making that good good cash flow. You can't do your best at what you love to do (and hire other people to help you) if you're constantly stressing about the lack of invoices you're sending out next month, right?
I loved this book because it outlines building wealth in such an easygoing, abundant way. It talks about a variety of principles and mindsets about money that successful people often share. It really gives you a magnifying glass that highlights where your beliefs are holding you back or helping you find success. It's an easy and insightful read (and gets you excited about the goodness that your future holds!).
The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level
This is another one that hit me like a brick wall (in the best of ways). My fellow design biz friend Emily from Salt and Soul Collective and I gushed over this one during a hangout in Sayulita together—it was the answer to a problem that she and I were both facing at the time.
You know when everything's going REALLY well for you and you're like "holy cow, how did I get here? There's no way this is going to last!".
This is actually a majorly limiting belief—this book talks about how a HUGE amount of people self-sabotage as soon as they hit a certain level of success. It teaches you how to raise your "upper limit" and become truly comfortable with the dream life that you're building.
Another message from this book that I LOVED and think about all the time is the idea that you create your own time. I'm still working on fully soaking this mindset in, but it is so freeing to view things in the way that you "get" to do them, not "have" to do them.
This is one that I can see re-reading every 2 years or so just to soak in the goodness of its message.
The Hero and the Outlaw: Building Extraordinary Brands Through the Power of Archetypes
I am only about 50% done with the book (at the time of writing this post) and I. Am. Obsessed.
Much like Donald Miller's Building a Story Brand mentioned above, this book looks at brands through the lens of storytelling. However, this one more specifically speaks about how successful brands are ones that fit into a series of "archetypes" that humans know and are familiar with (ex. the Hero, the Outlaw, and the Magician).
Although this is a branding book, I think that even people that aren't necessarily in the branding world would enjoy this. Something about it just CLICKS and makes so much sense.
I hope you find something in this list that changes the game for you—I've for sure found a gold mine in each of these. Curl up with a hot cup of tea, a cozy blanket, and get learning 🙂
Have any other book recs or want to chat about one of the above? Send me a DM on Instagram!