A Director of Strategy's Favorite Books

Updated on
April 14, 2024

by Nate Fleming

Building the industry bookshelf one recommended read at a time.

Here are a few books that have shaped and molded my slightly warped and curious mind.

The Hero and The Outlaw, by Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson

In this book, authors Margaret Mark and Carol Pearson demonstrate that the most successful brands are those that most effectively correspond to fundamental patterns in the unconscious mind known as archetypes.

The book provides tools and strategies to: 
• Implement a proven system for identifying the most appropriate and leverageable archetypes for any company and/or brand 
• Harness the power of the archetype to align corporate strategy and sustain competitive advantage

“[Brand] identities that succeed at striking an essential human chord affect the most fundamental economic measures of success.”

The Culture Code: An Ingenious Way to Understand Why People Around the World Buy and Live as They Do, by Clotaire Rapaille

In this book, author Clotaire Rapaille lays out a technique for mining people’s unconscious motivations and drivers from their memories along with some surprising insights into the hidden, unconscious meaning of a handful of fundamental concepts including sex, money, luxury, home…even shopping itself.

It also contains illuminating stories behind the success of advertising and product development concepts for a few fortune 500 companies including Procter & Gamble, Chrysler, and Nestle.

“Emotions are the keys to learning, the keys to imprinting. The stronger the emotion, the more clearly the experience is learned.”

Truth, Lies & Advertising: The Art of Account Planning, by Jon Steele

In this book, author Jon Steele draws on decades of experience in planning and developing some of the most successful and well-known advertising campaigns in history. It is a masterclass in how to promote a business in a ways that are meaningful, entertaining and culturally relevant.

Steele advocates an approach to consumer research that is based on simplicity, common sense, and creativity — an approach that gains access to consumers’ hearts and minds, develops ongoing relationships with them, and, most importantly, embraces them as partners in the process of advertising and brand building.

“A planner representing consumer opinions in the absence of an insightful client and talented creative people is unlikely to make any advertising any better.”

Brand Hijack: Marketing Without Marketing, by Alex Wipperfürth

In this book, author Alex Wipperfürth offers a practical how-to guide to marketing that engages the marketplace. It presents an alternative to conventional marketing wisdom, one that addresses such industry crises as media saturation, consumer evolution, and the erosion of image marketing.

Brand Hijack explains how, out of nowhere, a brand can take off with little or no conventional marketing; and how they ultimately succeed or fail. But don’t let the title fool you. Far from representing the absence of marketing, this book describes the most complex sort of marketing possible, as well as the least understood.

“Let go of the fallacy that your brand belongs to you. It belongs to the market.”

God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment, by Scott Adams

In this book, author Scott Adams sets out to “make your brain spin around inside your skull.”

Imagine you meet a very old man who you eventually realize knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life: quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light psychic phenomenon, and probability in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense.

“The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what’s wrong with the old man’s explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends, then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.”

“Because everything you perceive is a metaphor for something your brain is not equipped to fully understand.”

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