Are you interested in branding and positioning your small business? The following are my favorite books that can help you.
Strategic Brand Management (3rd Edition)
I worked with Dr. Keller, the author of Strategic Brand Management, on many naming and positioning projects while I was at Red Hat. If you are looking for the comprehensive guide to managing a brand, this is the book that is almost universally used in business schools to teach brand management. I almost always have my dog-eared copy on my desk, and I refer to it often.
Zag: The Number One Strategy of High-Performance Brands
The Brand Gap: How to Bridge the Distance Between Business Strategy and Design
At the other end of the spectrum from Strategic Brand Management are these two great books by Marty Neumeier, The Brand Gap and Zag. Neumeier refers to these books as "whiteboard overviews," by which he means that they are quick reads that can help you learn some of the basics in a few hours. If you don't have the time or patience for reading a textbook (or need a less expensive option), buy one or both of these books. These are also great options if you want to give others in your office a quick overview of branding-- buy copies for the whole team, and use them to kick off a discussion.
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition: The Battle for Your Mind, 20th Anniversary Edition
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind
Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition
The term positioning was popularized by Jack Trout and Al Ries in their classic book Positioning: The Battle for your Mind. The 20th anniversary edition includes some updates and more current examples to work from, although it is now over 10 years old too (35th edition, anyone?). Still THE classic book to help you understand how to position your brand and why it is important. Trout and Ries have both written many other books on positioning, but the original and the other one I've listed here, Differentiate or Die, are still my favorites.
Brand Atlas: Branding Intelligence Made Visible
Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team
Alina Wheeler is one of the most important authors in the branding world today. Her newest book Brand Atlas is filled with beautiful and helpful graphics and will give you an overview of some of the key issues in branding. Her classic book Designing Brand Identity is THE guide to building out your brand identity. It is an elegant book, filled with useful case studies-- you may be able to find an example in here that you'd like to emulate for your business.
I hope this list has been useful to you!
If you are interested in learning about my take on branding and positioning, please check out my new book The Ad-Free Brand. It takes the classic principles of Jack Trout, Al Ries, and Kevin Keller that have helped build great brands for decades and combines them with a community-based "open source" approach to building brands I learned during the decade I spent building the brand of open source technology leader Red Hat. If you don't have a lot of money to spend on advertising, but still want to build a great brand, I think the ideas in the book might help you.
The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World (Que Biz-Tech)