9 brand and business books for ambitious founders that instantly improve your business

One of the things I love doing most, is reading books. I love soaking up knowledge that expands my views on branding, business or life in general; but especially about psychology, beliefs or behaviour. Today, I’m sharing nine of my favorite books as of right now. Some of them are classic branding books, others are more about expanding your thinking. I hope you find one or the other book inspiring and helpful. The order of the list goes from broader or more advanced ideas to basic knowledge design and branding books.

My Book List:

1. Liminal Thinking, by Dave Gray

Get the book here.

We all have beliefs we formed while growing up or experiencing different things throughout our lives. They help us make sense of the world and give it some sort of structure. But they also hinder us when we want to evolve. If you want to overcome those boundaries, this book shows you how to expand your thinking.

Gray helps you look at things from different angles. By exploring, making new connections and disrupting routines you create new opportunities. Through principles and practices you learn to understand, shape and reframe your beliefs. The book also mentions the scarf model of emotional needs that helps you understand where other people are coming from.

Why I like this book:

“It broke through my own limiting beliefs and also helps when collaborating with others or thinking about your target audiences.”

– Simona Cellar

2. Tribe of Mentors, by Timothy Ferris

Get the book here.

It’s human nature to look at more successful people ahead of us, for inspiration. We seek mentors to learn from, to get a shortcut to our own success. This book is exactly that. Instead of one mentor, there’s a whole tribe of mentors that inspires us from a variety of different fields: leaders, celebrities or athletes.

Ferris asks all mentors the same questions that has them share their personal experiences and perspectives. If you’re in a rut and just want quick motivation, you can open the book anywhere and let inspiration hit you.

Why I like this book:

“It comes with many more book recommendations, since that’s one of the main questions the mentors are asked.”

– Simona Cellar

3. Rebrand, by Bob Killian

Get the book here.

If you want to grow and evolve nowadays, you won’t get around to reflecting yourself and your business. That’s exactly what this book helps you do. You might be stuck or no longer hit your sales goals. With this book you audit your strategy and tactics by assessing and rating your own brand.

Killian shows us, that as a first step, it’s often enough to make small changes within your company instead of hiring big agencies to do a full rebrand. Through different assessments you learn which adjustment to choose for your own company to get your brand back on track.

The book includes examples of do’s and don’ts in brand development and different assessment tools: The brand and story evaluation, 20 compelling attributes for your brand, 16 rules of renaming, a SWOT checklist, the 3D Brand Map (Killian Branding Box), InsightStorming and the brand Standards Manual.

Why I like this book:

“You can take action yourself and make a difference through small changes on your own. This book is great for founders, CEOs or marketing and communications leaders and brand managers that want to self-diagnose before doing any big action.”

– Simona Cellar

4. Who not How, by Dan Sullivan

Get the book here.

If you’re overwhelmed rushing through too many taks and having to handle too many errands, you start to wonder how to get yourself out of this situation. Maybe you’re still doing everything on your own: Copywriting, designing, sales or marketing. But sooner or later you start to realise that you’re wasting time and money by spreading yourself too thin.

This book is about creating more freedom for you again by delegating things that are not in your zone of genius. By doing that you free up time to do the things you are actually good at and like doing. Sullivan explains how it’s less about HOW to solve a problem and more about WHO can solve that problem faster than yourself. By delegating and asking yourself who can help you achieve tasks you don’t want to do or shouldn’t do.

Why I like this book:

“It’s great for solopreneurs or diy-ers that are thinking about outsourcing some of the repeating tasks in their businesses. It helps you make that transition from doing everything yourself to finding the right team mates.”

– Simona Cellar

5. Stand for something, by Brian Burkhart

Get the book here.

Sure, we all want to belong and none of us want to be the black sheep standing out. But if we want to have success in business, then that’s exactly what needs to happen. We need to stand out by being different and not blending in. So, if we’re just bland and don’t really know how we are different from our competition, it’s worth to examine how to change that.

Burkhart does this by going back to Simon Sineks „It starts with why“. He shows us how to go from what you do and how, to why you do what you do. He moves on to show you how to differentiate yourself through your core beliefs, and how your values will attract people you want to do business with.

Why I like this book:

“I liked the concepts of reverse engineering and using archetypes to help you find your answers. It helps you connect better with your employees and customers and create a tribe through shared beliefs.”

– Simona Cellar

6. Die Empty, by Todd Henry

Get the book here.

In the course of our life time many of us hit that moment, when we loose touch of our purpose or start to question our life choices. Maybe we’ve been looking for purpose all our lives and are still not closer. Our jobs feel mundane and we are bored of our minds.

This book helps you find meaning and purpose in your own work again. The angle here is to put your true self into your work and let it all out before you die. Through different principles and finding your own beliefs you make progress in day-to-day actions to come closer to a more authentic life. Henry teaches us that by trying different things, developing your skills over time, reflecting and recognising patterns you will find your own personal, unique values. He talks about the nature of contribution, specific principles to unleash your best work and strategies to apply in daily life.

Why I like this book:

“The book talks about the nature of contribution, specific principles to unleash your best work and strategies to apply in daily life. It helps you find your own path to a more authentic work life. I thought it was also interesting from a branding perspective. It helps you to differentiate yourself and gives you inspiration on how to find one’s own unique angle.”

– Simona Cellar

7. The business of Expertise, by David C. Baker

Get the book here.

Expertise is another important topic in today’s age. The deeper your knowledge goes into a topic the more valuable you are for others. If you’re an expert hoping to become more entrepreneurial, this book is for you. The point is to lead with strategy and follow with execution later to land better clients.

The most important topics are positioning, specialization, deep subject matter expertise and vertical vs. horizontal expertise. It also includes two assessments you can try out on your own business: An early positioning test and a late positioning test.

Why I like this book:

“I like the different perspective the author has shown me. No matter what expertise you have, it should always start with a strategy and then turn to execution, not the other way around.”

– Simona Cellar

8. Building a story brand, by Donald Miller

Get the book here.

This book is a classic in marketing. It’s no secret that telling a story is crucial in setting your brand up for success. If you don’t know how to talk about your business or come off as a generic robot in your communication, you will have a hard time connecting with your audience.

With Miller’s help you’ll learn the framework and necessary steps to create a story around your brand to reach your audience. The framework also explains how clear messaging puts everything in order and helps us understand complicated things in a simple way.

Why I like this book:

“This book is great for newbies to copy writing and story telling. The framework explains how clear messaging puts everything in order and helps us understand complicated things in a simple way.”

– Simona Cellar

9. Designing Brand Identity, by Alina Wheeler

Get the book here.

This book is another fundamental book in branding. It focuses on brand identity, another vital part to building your brand. It’s a comprehensive guide to learn the fundamentals of brand identity design. This book is for you if you don’t know what brand identity consists of, are curious about the process or just want to be able to assess what a good brand identity is.

Wheeler shares the importance of design and provides a roadmap and tools to create a brand identity. While you won’t learn specifically how to create a brand identity, it will help you when you look for or collaborate with other designers. It will bring clarity to the brand identity process and help you during your own rebranding process.

The key take-aways are learning about the brand basics (such as brand strategy and brand elements), the five phase process of brand identity and best practices shown through case studies.

Why I like this book:

“While you won’t learn specifically how to create a brand identity, it will help you when you look for or collaborate with other designers. It’s a great beginner book to get into and best for non-designers to understand the fundamentals of brand identity design and to get an overview of the entire process.”

– Simona Cellar

I hope you get inspired by this list and pick up a book or two to implement in your own business.

Do you have other books that made an impact on you? I’d love it if you shared them with me.

Über mich

Hey, ich bin Simona, Brand Strategist und Designer. Ich helfe ehrgeizigen Kleinunternehmer:innen dabei, ihr Business zu verwandeln. Meine Leidenschaft ist es, authentische Markenauftritte zu entwerfen, die auf soliden Strategien beruhen und Dir helfen, Dich von der Masse abzuheben.

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