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The Best Books on Strategy, Branding and Business

August 22, 2019

This article was partly contributed by Jacob Cass.

There are a lot of things that you don’t learn in design school and to be honest, the real learning begins once you leave school, especially in regards to running a successful business.

Figuring out things like brand positioning, marketing & promotions, new business, pricing, proposals & contracts, staffing, management and staying on top of trends.

With this said, I want to share the top 5 books on strategy and the business of design, including some personal favorites.

Narrowing it down to five books was an arduous task but these were the ones that bubbled to the top. Have another suggestion? Do let me know!

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See

The are many companies that feel using the consumer is the solution to their problems. In This is Marketing from Seth Godin, the actuality is that great marketers use marketing to solve other people’s problems. Godin, who has taught millions of entrepreneurs how to take the traditional sense of marketing and look at a different way for better results.

In his book, readers learn how to market their business whether its a Fortune 500 company or a little tech startup and be proud of the work being done. Instead of placing an emphasis on spammy email funnels and attention-stealing ads, Godin puts a focus on creating an empathetic and emotional connection with customers.

Why We Recommend It – You could have the greatest business in the world, but if your market point isn’t at the top of its game, your business will suffer. This is Marketing from Seth Godin, is written to provide you with a guidebook to the best marketing practices to help your business grow without the questionable techniques that others may use.

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Building a Story Brand

People want more information than ever and in Building a StoryBrand from Donald Miller, readers can learn the secret that comes from connecting with your customer and help them understand how your product or service can benefit them. By touching upon certain story points which are universally responded to can give you insight into why a customer truly buys a specific product.

Simplifying your businesses’ brand message can help current and potential customers understand who you are better and not only buy from you but also recommend you to others. By giving you the best tips to use your website and social media in the most effective way, you can build that relationship with a customer that can last for years.

Why We Recommend It – Building your brand’s story, no matter the business that you are in can help you connect better with your target audience. With Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller, you can take the tips and advice and transform not only the way you speak to your customers but also how you describe your business.

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Brutally Honest

Exploring the critical business challenges including case studies, pricing, contracts, and industry trends are given an in-depth focus in Brutally Honest by Emily Ruth Cohen. Designed from the outset to be a different type of strategy and business design novel, Brutally Honest is designed for those who benefit from learning visually instead of just the written word, making understanding and retaining the practical points made in the book easier to understand.

Why we recommend it – Flowing with beautiful graphics, impactful sound bites and quick wins as well as colorful, illuminating information, you’ll find yourself coming back to Brutally Honest time and time again.

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The Psychology of Graphic Design Pricing

Learn how to price creative work with confidence. Win more bids. Make more money. When it comes to pricing their work, far too many freelance designers and agencies merely guess what to charge their clients. As a result, profitable projects have as much to do with luck as they do anything else. In The Psychology of Graphic Design Pricing, you’ll learn how to take luck out of the equation by calculating the cost to produce your work, understanding its market value, and extracting your client’s budget.

Why we recommend it – Michael Janda takes the guessing out of profit. Price your creative work with confidence and win more bits.

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Profit First: Transform Your Business

Conventional accounting uses the logical formula: Sales - Expenses = Profit. The problem is, businesses are run by humans, and humans aren't always logical. Serial entrepreneur Mike Michalowicz has developed a behavioral approach to accounting to flip the formula: Sales - Profit = Expenses. Just as the most effective weight loss strategy is to limit portions by using smaller plates, Michalowicz shows that by taking profit first and apportioning only what remains for expenses, entrepreneurs will transform their businesses from cash-eating monsters to profitable cash cows.

Why we recommend it – With dozens of case studies, practical, step-by-step advice, and his signature sense of humor, Michalowicz has the game-changing roadmap for any entrepreneur to make money they always dreamed of.

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Picking The Best Strategy Books To Read

While our list focused on what we feel are the top 8 books on strategy & the business of design, there are many more valuable books out there that focus on these topics! We recommend looking around and seeing what books interest you so you can keep learning and putting yourself in the best position to help your business flourish.

Also see the top branding book here.

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