Opinion

Brand books you need to read

By Katherine Wildman
Issue No. 05 The Brand One
June 2017

7 Min Read

When it comes to business books, there are millions of titles on the shelves of bookshops and Amazon depots around the world. But when it comes to branding your business, are there any books that can help to support you through the process? Copywriter and creative writing teacher, Katherine Wildman, shares her recommended reads.

Bird by Bird - Anne Lamott

Lamott’s Bird by Bird changes has the most unassuming subtitle, ‘Some Instructions on Writing and Life.’ What she really means is, this is going to blow you away and change the way you see your life and the world around you.

Usually recommended reading on creative writing courses, this isn’t your typical business book, and you won’t find it among the glossy hard backed tomes on Leadership and How to Drive Profit.

But I’d argue that you should. And that anyone who wants to understand their place in the world - both as a person and a branded business - will revel in reading it. Lamott is funny, she’s warm, she’s wise, and she’s helpful.

She’ll show you how to make a start when the blank page is staring you down. The chapter, “Shitty First Drafts” is worth its weight in gold alone.

“I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.”

The internet is full of writing about and 'by' businesses. Bird by Bird will make you laugh out loud and make every word you write for your business stand out and shine.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.

Tribes - Seth Godin

Pithy. Witty. Concise. And unputdownable. 'Tribes' is the book for “those who don’t want to be sheep.” The Financial Times says, “Godin’s simple manifesto for success and happiness is inspiring.” The author defines a tribe as, ‘a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea’. Like Simon Sinek’s TED talk, “Start with why” Godin takes a philosophical slant on the world of business and expands on the idea that a group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

The book highlights our need, as human beings, to belong and the powerful potential that this brings to any movement - or business. And it does so using examples that range from the Grateful Dead to Wikipedia, via I love Lucy and Ronald Reagan.

Tribes is the business book that Sheldon Cooper would write if he could tear himself away from his whiteboard for long enough. Check out ‘All You Need to Know is Two Things.’

“The first thing you need to know is that individuals have far more power than ever before in history. One person can change an industry. One person can declare war. One person can reinvent science or politics or technology. The second thing you need to know is that the only thing holding you back from becoming the kind of person who changes things is this: lack of faith.”

Just as Dr Cooper can allow us to understand the deepest and most complicated equations in physics, Godin shows us how much power we have as businesses and as people within those businesses. May you boldly go.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.

Write to Sell - Andy Maslen

I own a lot of books. I lend my friends a lot of books. Long haul flight? Take your pick from this selection. English verse poetry for your kid’s homework? Here are three anthologies you can use. Want to learn the basics of copywriting and transform your fortunes? Here, take my… Oh, no. You can’t. This is the one book I never lend. To anyone. Ever.

Why? Well, for starters you can pick up your own copy for less than a tenner on Amazon (other bookshops are available) and for seconds, well. It’s a jolly romp of a read that's written in easy to digest sections that are simple into practice – and it changes fortunes. I'm a testament to that.

When it comes to identifying the benefits your business offers to your clients, which you should be doing all over your marketing materials for - you know - sales, look no further. As Maslen (Who writes for the BBC, The Economist and Top Gear) says,

“If you are going to influence people using the written word, it helps if you understand a little about how their minds work.”

This book will help you sort out what you want to say and how you’re going to say it to get the best results, from tone of voice guidance to verbal brand identity. I’m doing myself out of a job here, but seriously. Buy. It. Now.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.

Enchantment - Guy Kawasaki

This charming book, subtitled ‘The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions’ gets huge Brownie points from me for including a quote by the author Melody Beattie (author of Codependent No More). That Kawasaki chooses Beattie, author of many self-help books, to encapsulate his message of the power of gratitude speaks volumes about the ideas of basic humanity and the human condition that he explores within its pages.

The author defines enchantment as, “The process of delighting people with a product, service, organisation, or idea”. The outcome? “Voluntary and long-lasting support that is mutually beneficial.”

Do you delight your customers? Does your brand leave them feeling delighted? And if not, why not? And what are you going to do about that? Well, I’d suggest you indulge in at least a brief dip into these pages. You never know, you might change your own life.

This isn't a book to be devoured in one sitting. Rather, it’s a reference source to go back to again and again. As I’m writing this review, I’m getting caught up in its pages. Kawasaki’s style is open, honest and frank.

“Great products, services, organisations, and ideas are enchanting. Crap is not.”

He talks about how to meet people for the first time, how to dress, how to master the perfect handshake (there’s even a formula for this, written by the head of psychological sciences at the University of Manchester - Sheldon would approve). These are all vital aspects of your personal brand. And as Kawasaki was the chief evangelist for Apple for many years, I think we can heed his words.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.

Authentic - Professor Stephen Joseph

If I say that this book is life changing, the chances are that you’ll roll your eyes and sigh at the cliché. I know, I know. But just read these words aloud,

“There are three things that authentic people do well: they know themselves, they own themselves, and they are prepared to be themselves.”

Now, put that in the context of your business and the brand that you stand for.

Being authentic means never working with clients whose ethics you disagree with, it means being professional and present at all times and it means putting yourself forward in the knowledge that you are, as Hamlet would have it, being true to your own self.

Imagine no more stressful client meetings where your boundaries are being pushed. No more agreeing to rushed deadlines because you’re too focused on saying yes and people pleasing than being realistic about what you can manage in the timeframe allowed.

Imagine a world where your headspace is always calm because it’s never invaded by the unreasonable demands of others. Sound good? You need to buy this book.

Click here to buy this book from Amazon.

Have you read any of these books? Let us know what you thought in the comments below.