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Industry Insights

16 Books Every Brand Leader Should Have on Their Bookshelf

We don’t know who said: “Leaders are readers” but we couldn’t agree more. Nowhere is this sentiment truer than in the ever-growing economy of information exchange. Brands led by readers are increasingly influential in shaping our culture and public perceptions because customers are actively engaging with how brands think, not just what they are selling. Below you will find a list of a few of our favourite books to inform your thinking on business, marketing, sales, and leadership. Enjoy.

  • First Things First by Steven Covey:
    A very influential and helpful read. Steven Covey equips you with tools to prioritize your tasks and maximize your life’s output. Within these pages, Covey provides you with a matrix to distinguish between urgent/not urgent and important/not important tasks. He also suggests that our lives should be governed by a Compass rather than the Clock. His idea had such an impact on us that our company was named after it. Check it out!

  • The Brand Gap by Marty Neumeier:
    It's a whiteboard presentation. It's a book. It's a crash course on branding. Artfully written and designed, Neumeier’s book offers a real, clear, no-bull approach to design-thinking and marketing.

  • Positioning Jack Trout and Al Ries:
    The original book on positioning. At Compass, we reference this book’s ideas weekly, if not daily. Positioning is the bedrock of all new business development activity, so make this book a part of your foundation.

  • ZAG by Marty Neumeier:
    The second of Marty's books - this one dealing with positioning in a world where differentiation can be the difference between success and failure. It’s a book about creating a brand that stands out and produces lasting value for shareholders and customers. When everybody zigs…Zag.

  • All Marketers are liars by Seth Godin:
    If you haven’t heard of Seth Godin, it’s time to catch up. Seth is a marketing guru. He’s insightful, creative, empathetic, authentic, and witty. You really could read any one of his books or daily blog posts, but we recommend this one. Why? Because it’s about stories and it’s about authenticity and that resonates with us.

  • Start with Why by Simon Sinek:
    "Why" is not a book about making money. It is about purpose, cause, or belief. Sinek makes a compelling argument that you and your brand should always start with your cause. Start with why. The money will follow.

  • Now, Discover your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham:
    Most people don’t understand what their strengths and talents are let alone how they can use them to build a life. Marcus Buckingham has created a program to help you discover your talents, build strengths, and grow a life around that. Learn a little about yourself so that you can apply yourself more effectively.

  • Good to Great by Jim Collins:
    This book started out as a good read, it finished as a great one. Collins tries to identify the difference between good companies/brands and great ones so that you can identify which you are and either keep going strong or improve from good to great.

  • Let's get real, or Let's not play by Mahan Khalsa:
    This book offers a clear methodology for non-dysfunctional sales. Khalsa argues that sales are better for everyone when the focus is 100% on the customer’s success. Sign me up!

  • Designing Brand Identity by Alina Wheeler:
    The definitive textbook for creating, building, and maintaining strong brand identity. This book is full of case studies, methodologies, and advice; a must-read for anyone interested in building their brand.

  • The E-Myth by Michael Gerber:
    I wish I had read this book when I first started out! Among other things, Gerber observes that successful businesses depend on 3 kinds of personalities: The technician, the manager, and the entrepreneur. Unless you posses equal parts of all three personalities you best start building a team and then develop systems that enable growth and scalability.

  • Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson:
    An honest look at the life and accomplishments of Apple’s temperamental founder and personal computing industry leader, Steve Jobs.

  • Culture Care by Makoto Fujimura:
    Good things come in small packages. At only 105 pages and wrapped in a beautifully designed vellum cover, this book is worth the 2 or 3 hours of reading! Makoto Fujimura makes the case for beauty saying that “We need to feed our souls”. Look out…This book is guaranteed to awaken your inner artist!

  • The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben:
    A fascinating book that argues that forests are actually social networks in which trees are similar to human families, living in community, communicating with each other, and sharing/supporting each other. Kind of makes us think of an old song from the band Rush.

  • Slideology by Nancy Duarte:
    PowerPoint doesn't kill people. Bullets do. This book will equip you with the tools and know-how to create engaging PowerPoint presentations that help people NOT hurt them.

  • Resonate by Nancy Duarte:
    Before you can have a great PowerPoint you need to have a really good idea/point. Resonate is about how to share that idea and transform audiences through the art of storytelling.

Written by Jason Bouwman, RGD

October 11, 2017