Whether you’re starting your own design agency or a career in freelance coding, competition is fierce. You’re either facing a giant in the space or a thousand other hopeful entrepreneurs or freelancers like yourself.
How do you stand out? Through carefully-executed branding.
Brands help to create a relatable identity and personality for the collective efforts of an organization. Without a brand, businesses seem inhuman, without values or purpose. That’s why it is crucial for businesses to nail down their brand- then ensure that it’s consistently communicated on all channels.
Branding can be notoriously difficult. It is, after all, mostly subjective. Thankfully, there are a few books you can read to follow the golden rules of branding, for your business or for yourself.
Books on Branding for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners
This text from Giep Franzen and Sandra E. Moriarty is one of the more modern takes on developing branding strategy. Franzen and Moriarty suggest building a brand from the perspectives of both the marketer and customer. Brands aren’t manufactured in a factory- they’re a combination of the “producer’s intentions, external brand realities, and consumer’s brand perceptions.” Successful brands understand how each piece fits in the whole to create the most well-known names in business today.
Based on the agile methodology and teachings of The Lean Startup by Eric Ries, The Lean Brand demonstrates how to develop brands quickly while minimizing risk. Authors Jeremiah Gardner and Brant Cooper have helped entrepreneurs, startups, even Fortune 500 companies rethink the most important (and usually less accessible) aspects of branding.
In the early 60s, business school graduate Phil Knight borrowed fifty dollars from his father to start a shoe company, importing cheap but high quality from Japan. He made $8000 his first year. Now, Nike is a multibillion-dollar company, endorsed by the world’s leading athletes, musicians, entrepreneurs, while still having an everyman appeal. Knight shares his story of how he built one of the most recognizable brands in history.
Books on Branding for Designers
Designers have to think differently about brands- they’re usually the ones responsible for the aesthetics of a certain brand. These books are great for any designer who wants to enhance their brand’s look and feel.
Designing Brand Identity is a staple resource for anyone looking for a guide into brand design. The book features 50 case studies of real branding processes and their results, as well as hundreds of diagrams, illustrations, and other visual aids. Perfect for both marketing managers and aspiring students alike, this book features a comprehensive guide to branding fundamentals that are critical to launching or even re-launching a brand.
Most businesses treat brand as the last step, a separate arm from the rest of the business functions. The Brand Gap is one of the first books to approach brand development as an integrated part of all business aspects. Learn how to create a brand informed by the business’s values and actions, and how impactful brand can be to the customer experience.
Books on Branding for Freelancers
Interested in building brands while self-employed? It takes a lot more work and research, but these books are perfect starting points.
My Creative (Side) Business: The insightful guide to turning your side projects into a full-time creative business (Insightful Guides for Freelancers)
Freelancing can be tough work, given that it requires constantly having to put yourself out there and market your service. My Creative (Side) Business is a helpful guide for freelancers ready to bring their work to the next level and start making more money.
Creative, Inc. is for illustrators, photographers, designers, animators, and other freelancing professionals struggling to put their work out there. This book is brimming with useful advice on developing a portfolio and business that stands out from the crowd.
Books on Personal Branding
Branding doesn’t just apply to businesses and entrepreneurs – in fact, it goes hand-in-hand with how you market yourself. It may be strange to think of one’s self as a brand, but in terms of finding new partnerships and creating business opportunities, it is no different from marketing a service. Here are a few books on personal branding.
Karen Kang has written a brilliant, detailed, and above all, timely guide to developing your own brand. Kang explains how to use the BrandingPays methodology by drawing on examples and concepts from the marketing agency that catapulted Apple to success. Whether you’re an entrepreneur veteran or an aspiring professional in college, this book sheds light on how you can clearly market your unique value and achieve success.
No matter what industry you work in, selling yourself is a fundamental part of a business. Nobody is really taught how to sell themselves, but this book serves as a great crash course. Founder of Beckwith Advertising and Marketing, Harry Beckwith teams up with professional consultant and speaker Christine K. Clifford (CEO of Christine Clifford Enterprises) to deliver a humorous but inspiring book.
Rise of the Youpreneur: The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Leader in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business
The “Youpreneur” may sound unconventional, but it’s really a way to describe the new kind of entrepreneur- the personal brand entrepreneur. Youpreneurs aren’t bound by the traditional set of rules, but they still manage to stay as leaders within their niche. Regardless of what kind of business industry you may be in, this book will help you learn what it takes to become more successful in your career.
Craving for some more entrepreneurial insight? Check out these must-watch TED talks we discussed in a previous blog post.
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