Growing your personal brand continues to be a popular trend, especially among millennials. According to Business Insider, a staggering 1.8 billion photos are uploaded every day via social media. Inc.com points out that personal branding allows you to establish a reputation and an identity while still maintaining a personal level of trust and interaction, usually through social media.

If you study the marketing efforts of a major corporation like Apple Inc., it is evident how the tech company strategically creates a unique voice and a signature image that connects with their followers. Jayson Demars of Forbes states people are far more compelled to trust individuals as opposed to corporations.

“People are far more likely to follow you, talk to you, trust you, and engage with you if they believe they are interacting with a real person,” said Demars. “This is where the benefits of humanizing your brand really come into play.”

Growing your personal brand will not only build trust amongst your followers, it could end up being one of your best returns on investment. If you have a large social following and you post creative content, this won’t cost you a penny and it can raise awareness about your skill set and career ambitions. If you haven’t begun growing your personal brand or are unsure where to get started, don’t worry. We reached out to professionals in the field, including psychology and marketing expert Dr. Robyn LeBoeuf, to compile 12 of the best marketing books to help you enhance the most important brand in the world. YOURS.

1. Buzzmarketing, by Mark Hughes

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Hughes forces you to think outside of the box when it comes to relaying your message to the masses. The former marketing executive provides real-life, memorable examples that will get people talking about your brand.

He shares plenty of fun stories, such as how he once named renamed an entire city for a marketing campaign.

While you won’t need to rename a city to get people talking about your personal brand, Buzzmarketing will force you to start thinking outside of the box.

“Despite a long history in marketing I took away several things from this book and enjoyed it so much I bought a copy for all my marketing managers. its a fun, easy read yet reminds us marketers of things we already know but frequently need reminding.” – Rebecca

2. Confessions of an Advertising Man, by David Ogilvy

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Adweek magazine asked people in the industry, “Which individuals – alive or dead – made you consider pursuing a career in advertising?” and David Ogilvy topped the list.

When it comes to growing your brand, if there’s one person whose advice you should follow, it’s the ‘Father of Advertising’, David Ogilvy. His book, “Confessions of an Advertising Man,” relays his marketing secrets, which helped some of the largest brands reach tremendous growth. One insight he shares is:

“The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.”

If you are looking to grow your personal brand, take note of Ogilvy’s time-tested, successful pointers.

“This book is a “must read” for anyone considering going into advertising, as Ogilvy personally invented the industry as we know it today. However, if you want to know how to conduct yourself in the world of business, how to write, how to communicate with people, this is also the book for you.” – Tom

3. The Brand Gap, by Marty Neumeier

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How can you create a brand so charismatic, it draws people in and becomes an essential part of their lives? In this book, Neumeier outlines five disciplines to help you bridge the gap between brand strategy and brand execution:

Differentiate, Collaborate, Innovate, Validate and Cultivate

Using visual metaphors and real-life examples, Neumeier challenges you to apply his five disciplines to your own experiences and to focus on innovation when building your personal brand.

“As owner of a small company trying to figure out branding, this book was an invaluable read in helping me got going in the right direction. Branding is still a very large boondoggle of a neverending project, but now I at least feel like I have a better understanding of what it is I’m after. I see good branding everywhere, this book explains, as much as is possible, how to get there.” – Mark

4. Positioning, by Al Ries and Jack Trout

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The now-popular marketing term ‘positioning’ was originally coined by Trout in 1969. If you want to learn what positioning means for your personal brand, this book is the place to start.

Decades later, Ries and Trouts’ words still ring true. It seems that each year, media gets louder, and it’s even harder to reach your audience. So how can your personal brand overcome the commotion?

From how we think about our friends to why we identify with a political party, ‘Positioning’ considers how you can frame your personal brand to your audience, and how you can stand out from the crowd.

“This book is fantastic! They give you some clear examples of why companies rise and fall because of their failure to position themselves in a way that makes sense to the market. They talk about how companies go from successes to duds because of their inability to understand their place in the market.” – Matthew

5. Influence, by Robert Cialdini 

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Psychologist and marketer Bob Cialdini explores why people are persuaded to change their minds, and teaches you how to become a savvy persuader yourself. He introduces you to his six principles of ethical persuasion:

Reciprocity, Scarcity, Liking, Authority, Social Proof, and Commitment/Consistency

Cialdini supports each of his principles with sound data in psychology and provides examples so you can get the most out of his book and learn to deliver an excellent elevator pitch when you come across your big opportunity.

“I highly recommend this book to all professionals. It does not matter if you are a manager, sales person, pastor, or non-profit volunteer. The ideas in this book, once applied, will make it easier for you to accomplish your goals.” – Kevin

6. Branding Pays, by Karen Kang

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One of the first lessons Kang introduces is that everyone knows the importance of a well-curated social media presence, but few people will actually take the initiative to manage their personal brand.

“[Do] a Google search on your name. Are the links and images of you that show up on the first page of search results how you want your brand represented? If not, then you have some work to do.”

Kang shares relatable, real-life examples of how you can improve your personal brand in all your social spheres, and offers concrete tips that you can begin executing immediately.

Bill Mulholland, the founder of American Relocation Connections, makes sure his brand is well represented online. “We know that potential customers conduct research online when they are interested in our services,” stated Mulholland. “This is the exact reason why we are constantly trying to improve our online presence by obtaining reviews, posting relevant content and interacting with our followers. Businesses need to make sure that their top notch customer service is conveyed online for everyone to see.”

“As a career services professional, I stress to students the importance of maintaining their personal brand. We started using this book in our career management courses because of its practical application. It’s easy to understand (“cake” and “icing”) with concrete examples. The book teaches you not only how to develop your brand, but more importantly, how to manage and maintain your brand.” – J.P.

7. Career Warfare, by David D’Alessandro

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In his no-nonsense, to-the-point guidebook to the business world’s battlefield, D’Alessandro shows you how to pick up the tools you already have at your disposal and best manage your personal brand for your professional development.

This book is more focused on a corporate environment, though the lessons can easily be applied to a small business or for an individual. If you are wondering how to deal with your corporate landscape, try some of D’Alessandro’s take-no-prisoners style tips.

“Whether you’re looking to thrive in a large company or launch a successful start up, David D’Allesandro’s book will help you get there sooner. Combining C-level experience with street-smarts, D’Allesandro delivers actionable insights and powerful recommendations on everything from using the power of information to stand out to keeping clients happy.” – Luke

8. Brand You 50, by Tom Peters 

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As the business world continues to grow, at least one thing remains constant – your personal brand will define you, your future career and your relationships you build.

“The white collar job as now configured is doomed… So what’s the trick? There’s only one: distinction. Or as we call it, turning yourself into a brand… Brand You.”

Peters enthusiastically attests that surviving means not blending in, but standing out. True to the book’s subtitle, he will present you with 50 tangible strategies that will push your personal brand to the next level.

“As usual, Tom Peters delivers the goods! His concept of Brand YOU! is great, and his ideas for practical implementation even better. If you want to stand out and reach for real excellence, read this book.” – Carl

9. The Success Principles, by Jack Canfield

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Canfield, a co-creator of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series, definitely knows a thing or two about inspiring readers to make a positive change in their lives.

Canfield outlines 64 principles to reach success, and he builds on real-life stories of people who struggled but ultimately reached success, from Olympians to blue-collar workers.

Touted as one of the greatest self-improvement books on shelves, ‘The Success Principles’ almost reads like a self-help book, but its greater goal is to motivate you to take charge of your personal brand and start fresh in your professional development.

“This book is a fantastic resource for anyone who desires to get to the next level. This is a smorgasbord of personal development, psychology, and business and financial books wrapped in one burrito. Are you hungry? This book will satisfy your appetite for success.” – Thomas

10. Guerilla Marketing, by Jay Conrad Levinson

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Throughout his extensive career as an ad agency exec, Levinson was responsible for some of the world’s most recognizable brand icons, including the Pillsbury Dough Boy and Tony the Tiger.

Levinson shares his experiences in guerrilla marketing (a term he coined), and details how, with enough creativity and strategic thinking, you can spin any situation to your advantage. He also discusses best management practices, particularly as technology is evolving so rapidly.

Although Levinson’s book was first published in 1983, his teachings are timeless and they can easily be applied to the contemporary personal brand.

“Great book that gives you a quick introduction to the world of marketing, especially helpful for small business owner. If you’re an entrepreneur, this book is a must-read.” – James

11. Made to Stick, by Chip and Dan Heath

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Chip and Dan Heath delve into the psychology behind viral social trends, like the gruesome urban myth where a traveller wakes up in a tub of ice, courtesy of a local organ-harvesting ring. They credit the proliferation of “sticky messages” to six traits:

Simplicity

Unexpectedness

Concreteness

Credibility

Emotions

Stories

As you read about SUCCESs, the brothers Heath will show you how to apply these traits to your own personal brand’s messaging, and how to make your ideas stick.

“It’s brilliant! It packs the information of a textbook, while maintaining your attention like a comic book. The book on how to make ideas stick is very sticky itself. Strongly recommended.” – Vincent

12. You, Inc., by Harry Beckwith and Christine Clifford

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Husband-and-wife Harry and Christine are both CEOs of their own companies, and in this book, they team up to share the lessons they learned along the way.

They present over 150 ideas for how to use effective communication to build your personal brand, and though the lessons are easily understood, Beckwith cautions that there is a considerable difference between ‘knowing’ and ‘doing’ something.

Although this book is just over 300 pages, this is one book you’ll want to take your time reading and fully absorbing.

Everyone wants to excel in their professional and personal lives. The 12 best marketing books to grow your personal brand will expose you to the most effective tips on personal brand development, which in turn will help you to generate more buzz about yourself in your social networks.

“For knowing nothing about sales, this was a great launching pad for me to get more interested and read other sales books. Pretty motivational with great bits of information to redefine how you see the world. This book has definitely shifted my approach to “getting out there” making myself more visible.” – Scott

This list of books includes work from the 1960s up through 2015, and amazingly, all of the concepts and principles will still hold true across generations. No matter how much business evolves or expands, human nature will always care about compelling stories – the personal brand that you give in your elevator pitch. These time-tested philosophies hold strong, proving that a successful personal brand is everything.

With the help of the life-changing wisdom inside these 12 marketing books, it won’t be long before you master your personal brand with ease!

Featured photo credit: BigStock via bigstockphoto.com

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