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Books, books, books, it’s my favourite way of learning new stuff. Reading books can really help you get in the right mindset. You can check out a video on my favorite books here.
A fundamental book in understanding brand strategy. Michael Johnson explains it in a simple, human way. His 6 questions framework is the starting point for a lot of conversations.
Buy Branding in five and a half steps by Michael Johnson
A big part of your journey in become a more strategic thinker is about being the expert. It’s about learning how to ‘sell’ without selling. Blair Enns is your capitain in this journey.
Buy Win without pitching by Blair Enns
A scientific approach to branding and is essential reading for those who have wondered if (or have been told) it's time for a change.
Buy Building distinctive brand assets by Jenni Romaniuk
A game changer for me. This book by Byron Sharp debunks some serious branding myths. It is a myth-busting book, in the tradition of classic scientific discoveries. Unlike most business books it's based on extensive data, on real world buying.
Buy How brands grow by Byron Sharp.
Aaker on branding by David Aaker
Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari
Positioning a battle for the mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout
Shoe dog by Phill Knight
All marketeers tell stories by Seth Godin
First things first by Gestalten
Beloved brands by Graham Robertson
Bigger than this by Fabian Gehyrhalter
Creative strategy and the business of design by Douglas Davis
On the business of expertise by David C. Baker
I’d love to know what your favorite books are on brand strategy, drop them in the comments so I can expand the list!
A tool built to help you create better design briefs. Their set of accesible strategic excercices allow you and your client to get on the same page and craft better, more approriate design solutions. It’s a collaborative environment that allows you to nail the esssentials of brand strategy, even when you are working remotely. Check out the link below and get started with a free trial.
My favorite tool for creating brand strategy presentations, quick, clean and easy to use. Most of my brand strategy presentations are created with this tool.
I use Workflowy when I’m ‘flowing’ through strategy. You can easily create lists within lists. I use it as a ‘rough draft mode’ when I’m doing research, I have different categories that I always duplicate per project (competitors, articles, insights, …). I also use it to right down questioins and answers when doing face-to-face interviews.
Doing customer research is essential if you want to learn more about the customer and harvest great insights. The best way to talk to customers is face-to-face conversations, but… You can’t always do that! Typeform is a great way to harness feedback from different audiences.
2 bobs is one of my favorite podcasts, not purely a ‘design’ podcast it’s so helpful if you want to learn more about positioning, selling, being an expert and much more. David C Baker and Blair Enns truly are thought leaders when it comes to the business of expertise.
Again, learning about brand strategy really is going outside of your comfort zone, so this podcast is not a ‘design’ podcast, it’s a podcast about entrepreneurs and the stories they tell. Listen how amazing brands such as Warby Parker, Patagonia, Burton and much more came to life and how brands actually grow. It’s a humbling yet exciting experience.
Listen how big brands like Coca-cola, Nintendo fight out their fights in the arena of customers. Business Wars gives you the unauthorized, real story of what drives these companies and their leaders, inventors, investors and executives to new heights — or to ruin.
A great podcast on branding and entrepreneurship by Fabian Geyrhalter, writer of Bigger than this. He talks with founders about how they built their brand, what techniques they used, how they failed and what their succeses where. Fabian is great listener and storyteller.
Interviews with strategists, writers, designers and researchers about the nitty gritty of brand building. A great show full of valuable branding nuggets.
Ian Paget, aka Logo geek, interviews some of the best designers in the field. They talk about graphic design, identity design, logo design and much more. If you are looking to improve your design skills and learn more about the ins-and outs of logo design, this podcast is the way to go for you + Ian is such a lovely guy.
You probably know I have my own podcast, if you don’t, now is the time to check it out.
To level up your skillset, sometimes you need to take things up a notch. Courses are the best way to do that. Here are some of my favorite courses:
The best course on brand strategy in the world. Just kidding, actually, no, I do believe this course on brand strategy is one of the most comprehensive, hands-on courses out there. If you are serious about becoming a more strategic designer, then this course is perfect for you.
Learning how to do a brand workshop changed the game for me. It allowed me to get on the same page with my clients, build trust, create better design solutions and learn about your client in a more meaningful way. It's also the first step toward becoming a more strategic designer and essential in understanding brand strategy.
This is the perfect course for beginners to learn several new skill sets. You’ll be guided through several new software packages as you learn the fundamentals of logo design.
My good friend and collegue Gil Huybrecht is one of the best designers I know. His knowledge of hierarchy, spacing and timing is always on point. He has won multiple awards and scrolling through his Dribbble is a good way to spend 5 minutes. Check out some of his classes on webdesign.
Some of you may recall when I had acclaimed brand strategist Fabian Geyrhalter on my show. I am sure many have read one of books on brand strategy. He has now taken his acclaimed one-day brand strategy workshop for entrepreneurs and made it into an online course at the fraction of the cost. Just go to the link below to strengthen your own brand strategy work while being able to create a stronger platform for your own practice.
Besides some of the best ‘free’ content out their, The Futur has some amazing courses and materials. I recommend their proposal template and stylescape course. Go check out their academy to get an overview of all their stuff.
Mockups are a good way to sell your concepts in a convincing and engaging way. I use mockups all the time to give my identity design context. The more efforts you put in making it feel like the real deal, the more convincing your concept will be. Here are some of my favorite mockup sites:
The most professional option out there, Yellow images is truly amazing stuff. It’s not free, but it’s definetely worth it!
A great resource for mockups. It’s free, so you’ll love your wallet for this one.
Another great resource and they have some kick-ass free options as well. Great, realistic and fun mockups.
There are so many interesting frameworks out there that will help you clarify, understand and create a solid brand strategy for your client. Here are some of my favorites. Use these different frameworks as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to create your own or try out new things.
The brand spectrum by Jason Halstead is the perfect starting point to learn about brand strategy, it’s a great way to see what a brand strategy project looks like in a chronological order. And it’s free! Also, I did an episode with Jason on the podcast if you are interested in learning more.
The brand key is a much used model in the strategy space, it sums up all of the important aspects of a brand in a visual shape.
His value proposition template focuses on creating a statement by filling the following blanks:
For [your target customer]
who [statement of need or opportunity]
our [product/service name]
is [product category]
that [statement of benefit]
Example: For chicken farmers who lose a lot of their flock to predators, SuperCoop’s rugged and connected coop is a simple and effective way to keep the foxes out of the henhouse.
SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats)analysis is a framework used to evaluate a company's competitive position and to develop strategic planning. SWOT analysis assesses internal and external factors, as well as current and future potential.
The internet is your friend when it comes to doing research, learning more about brand strategy. Below you can find some of my favorite sites and channels where I get my weekly juice on strategy & design.
Holabrief community: Home for designers wanting to level up their briefing and think more strategically, Holabrief has a great blog filled with articles on strategy, design and branding.
How brands are built: A great site with tons of interesting articles on brand strategy and design.
Brand new: Armin Vit critiques fresh rebrands and logo designs.
Adage: A great blog that features some of the best advertising in the world, get inspired to think outside of the box.
The best places to learn more, share your thoughts, get feedback and much more.
The futur: A huge community with loads of different options, from the Futur Pro group to open acces communities. Chris Do and his team provide constant high-quality content for the design community.
Sweatheads: An awesome group of brand strategists and planners. Get ready to receive loads of valuable content and information.
Let’s talk branding: Our awesome little Slack community has been a great place for people to learn, grow, talk about branding.
Logo geek community: Ian Paget runs a free facebook group but also a payed community. It’s a great place with lot’s of high quality content and people.
Get inspired by the best possible designs out there.
The dieline: My favorite place to get inspired when you are working on packaging design.
Dribbble: A great platform with loads of amazing people.
Behance branding gallery: Discover some of the best branding project out there, this gallery has some real gems.
Designspiration A great site to get inspired by different types of projects, photography and graphic design.
Pinterest: Still a good resource to find a vast amount of graphic design references
Art of the menu: A lovely curated gallery of some of the best menu designs out there
Identity designed: A great library full of beautifull identity design
We love branding: Amazing gallery full of awesome branding projects.
Visual journal: A great source for fresh, contemporary identity design projects.
Colossal: Get inspired by out-of-the-box projects, art and culture.
Logo design love: an epic logo collection.
Also I love the ‘gestalten’ book brand to get design inspiration, check out their visual culture section to buy some of the best out there. Besides sites and books, just open your eyes, get inspired by long walks, conversations, …
Gathering insights to support your strategic thinking is key in conveying a strong story. The best insight gathering is often done through own research: quantitative and qualitative data gathering through interviews, surveys, audits,… I use typeform a lot to start doing research. Each project has it’s own context so look for industry specific websites and trend reports.
Insight: the capacity to gain an accurate and deep understanding of someone or something.
WGSN: the leading website in trend reports in different industries. They have some free stuff but most of the goodies are behind bars (it’s really costly).
LSN Global some really good free content, macro trends & micro trends. Go browse through their amazing content.
JWT Intelligence: another trend site with loads of valuable free content. Featuring different industries such as tech, lifestyle, food & drink, …
CB Insights: Lot’s of data driven research, great visualisations, different industries such as financial, automotive, CPG, …
Reddit is a great source for research, specific communities can be really helpful. For example I was doing research for a gluten-free product and found the Celiac community on Reddit to be super helpful and they delivered a lot of insight.
In general I would say ‘Google’ is your friend when you are gathering insights. But the more you start doing field research, the deeper your insights will be.
Feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below.
Some of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that if you choose to make a purchase, I will earn a commission. This commission comes at no additional cost to you. Please understand that I have experience with all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.