If you’ve already read classics on brand and marketing strategy like Blue Ocean Strategy, Positioning: The Battle for your Mind or the 22 Immutable Laws of Branding, here are some of additional books that will help you do a deeper dive on the subject and provide some enhanced insights. Enjoy!

Good Strategy, Bad Strategy

by Richard Rumelt

This is one of my most favorite books because it provides a core framework for developing any strategy. It establishes a clear process and outlines the key elements in planning. In addition, it provides several insightful case examples of good strategies and bad strategies, as well as the reasons for each.

Insightful nugget:

“A good strategy has an essential logical structure that I call the kernel. The kernel of a strategy contains three elements: a diagnosis, a guiding policy and coherent action. The guiding policy specifies the approach to dealing with the obstacles called out in the diagnosis… Coherent actions are feasible coordinated policies, resource commitments and actions to carry out the guiding policy.”

Playing to Win: How strategy really works

by A.G. Lafley

Another great framework for developing effective strategies in marketing and business in general. As former CEO of Procter & Gamble, Lafley clearly knows what it takes to develop brand leaders and has outlined a systematic process for others to follow.

Insightful nugget:

“[A] strategy is a coordinated and integrated set of five choices: a winning aspiration, where to play, how to win, core capabilities and management systems.”

Eating the Big Fish: How Challenger Brands Can Compete Against Brand Leaders

by Adam Morgan

In a ever growing saturated marketplace, if you’re not the market leader, it’s extremely difficult to gain enough top-of-mind awareness to remain competitive. This book outlines effective approaches that “challenger brands” use to outflank their larger, more well-known competitors. Applying these principles can provide a solid foundation for your brand strategy.

Insightful nugget:

“[O]ur task as Challengers must be to (1) Dramatically simplify choice for the consumer by (2) Creating a new criterion for choice in the category, and… (3) In doing so, give consumers a way of thinking and feeling about the category in a way that they had not before.”

HBR’s 10 Must Reads on Strategy

by Harvard Business Review

Basically an MBA in a book. This provides an excellent primer on the primary frameworks on business strategy, including much of Michael Porter’s work (Generic Strategies, Value Chain Analysis). So rather than reading dozens of books and papers on the subject, you can get the main highlights in one compact book. But take your time with this one. There is a lot of insightful theories crammed into shorter summaries, so you really want to dive deep into understanding their concepts.  

Insightful nugget:

“1. Strategy is the creation of a unique and valuable position, involving a different set of activities. 

2. Strategy requires you to make trade-offs in competing – to choose what not to do. 

3. Strategy involves creating “fit” among a company’s activities.” 

Strategic Marketing: Planning and Control

by Graeme Drummond, John Ensor, Ruth Ashford

This textbook provides a great overview for marketing strategy and the ongoing management of marketing programs and departments. However, its section on Offensive and Defensive Strategies gave me a whole new perspective on how marketing compares to military strategy in a practical way.

Insightful nugget:

Frontal attack:This is an all-out attack on a competitor. Generally such an attach requires a sustained effort …

Flank attack:To draw on the analogy of the battlefield, where the flanks were always the weakest point of any army. Equally, this can be the case in the business world and ‘flanking’ is achieved by attacking selective market segments where the competitor is relatively weak…

Encirclement attack: Here we aim to offer a range of products that effectively encircle the competitor.”