Clear Defendable Territory
The 13 most popular books on The Clearing’s bookshelf
The 13 most popular books on The Clearing's bookshelf

"Need some new reading material? Well today's your lucky day. Over the past few years we've been slowly filling The Clearing's bookshelf with literary gems from the world over, and now we're ready to share them with you (via any good book retailer). So whether you fancy developing a long-lasting business strategy or are simply finding your way in the confusing world of design, check out our 13 favourite brand-related books.
1. How to be a graphic designer without losing your soul

Written by Adrian Shaughnessy. Recommended by Sam Wall, Design Director

Shaughnessy's straight-talking guide is the ideal companion for any budding designer. Helping ground you in the world of branding, it dissects every possible scenario you'll come up against ’ from breaking bread with clients to going it alone as a freelancer. It's the perfect "how to' for learning how not to derail your blossoming career.

2. Built to last: successful habits of visionary companies

Written by James Collins & Jerry Porras. Recommended by Stephen Lang, Business Development Director

"What makes truly exceptional companies different?' That's the question posed to you by Collins and Porras throughout their extensive look at some of the world's mainstay brands. Six years in the making, they compare 18 companies' development ’ from the innovative Uber to the time-honoured Kodak ’ to bring you the best advice for forming a company that's built to last.

3. Exponential organisations

Written by Salim Ismail. Recommended by Andy Howell, Founder and Creative Director

Today, things move faster than ever: we're a generation of speed-freak junkies. So it comes as no surprise that the business world has joined in, birthing a new, fleet-footed breed of company ’ the Exponential Organisation. Streamlined growth machines, these businesses throw out tradition and radically improve performance with new technologies. Fortunately for us, Salim Ismail's explained just how to build one.

4. We, me, them & it: the power of words in business

Written by John Simmons. Recommended by Alice Walker, Senior Writer

Whether you're jotting down notes, writing a novel or simply having a natter, we've all got a unique way with words. What really matters for brands though, and where Simmons' focus lies, is how you use them. Addressing the power words can have on employees, customers and businesses, We, Me, Them & It demonstrates how language makes all the difference when you're shaping a company's identity. Essential reading for copywriters everywhere.

5. The sense of style: the thinking person's guide to writing in the 21st century

Written by Steven Pinker. Recommended by Rosalind Bull, Consultant

Shakespeare never tweeted. Hemingway didn't have a blog. Dickens would've been all at sea with a #hashtag. So why do we follow their language rules? Steven Pinker's light-hearted style guide finally goes against tradition and brings writing into the 21st century. Appreciating the challenges put on today's writers, he presents an up-to-date account on why writing with style and communicating effectively are still important. And, even better, he does it without using a single emoji.

6. Ways of seeing

Written by John Berger. Recommended by Jon Norton, Senior Designer

Viewing images for what they are, Ways Of Seeing challenges how people read pictures and, subsequently, use them to create meaning. It makes for the perfect reference for any creative-type looking to build significance in a brand through imagery. And maybe, just maybe, suggests design is more important than those new-fangled words.

7. Leap: a revolution in creative business strategy

Written by Bob Schmetterer. Recommended by Nicole Griffin, Strategy Director

Traditionally, business strategy stuck to strategy, leaving creativity to grow out of bottom-line briefs at agencies across the world. However, as Schmetterer discusses, today that's just not the case. Business strategy is using both sides of the brain and developing plans with creative ideas at the forefront: what he coins the "creative business' idea. The only questions is, just what should you do with that idea?

8. Words fail me

Written by Teresa Monachino. Recommended by Pete Dewar, Founder and Director of Brand Language.

Language is a funny old thing. And never has that been more apparent than in Teresa Monachino's self-confessed romp, Words Fail Me. From unscrambled antigrams to agreeable contradictionarys, she unpicks every baffling, questionably-written rule in the English vocabulary. Honestly, we think you'd be a fool idiot to pass it up.

9. Love at goon park: harry harlow and the science of affection

Written by Deborah Blum. Recommended by Nick Liddell, Director of Consulting

Whether you're an Apple advocate, a Coca-Cola connoisseur or even, bless your soul, a reformed Belieber, we all have that one brand we truly adore. But what exactly is it that makes us love them the way we do? In this affectionate page-turner, Deborah Blum examines the story of one man's study of adoration and the consequences it can have on our lives. The twist? This study isn't on humans.

10. The pirate inside

Written by Adam Morgan. Recommended by Richard Buchanan, Founder and Managing Director

You should never judge a book by its cover and, according to Adam Morgan, you should never judge a company by its CEO. That's because businesses are made up of a variety of people whose qualities and approaches are the real building blocks of challenger companies. It's why The Pirate Inside shifts the focus from what all-conquering leaders bring to the table to how they should manage the table, creating a read definitely worth treasuring.

11. The design of everyday things

Written by Don Norman. Recommended by Jonathan Hubbard, Founder and Creative Director

Every day is a battle against the everyday. Whether it's a bread-cremating toaster or a perpetually-heating radiator, we all have that one thing that just won't work for us. But are we to blame? Don Norman doesn't think so. Rather than seeing human ineptitude as the reason behind commonplace divorces, he explores design that ergonomically fails on every level ’ explaining how some things just aren't made to work.

12. The cluetrain manifesto

Written by Rick Levine, Christopher Locke, Doc Searls, and David Weinberger. Recommended by Jules Griffith, Marketing Director

The Internet is a scary beast. Connected, quick and ever growing, it differs from all other mass marketing for one powerful reason: it enables conversations between companies and consumers. And it is these interactions that are at the heart of the 95 theses which make up The Cluetrain Manifesto ’ as Messrs Levine, Locke, Searls and Weinberger define how new ways of sharing knowledge are making markets smarter. As well as how it's not likely to stop any time soon.

13. Poetics

Written by Aristotle. Recommended by Kevin Johns, Associate Director of Brand Language.

Thesis. Antithesis. Catharsis. No book list would be complete without a splash of Greek literature. And where better to start than at the very beginning? Widely regarded as the original, seminal study of story, Aristotle unpicks, deciphers and conjures up principles of storytelling that remain as relevant today as they were before the Gutenburg print press. Don't worry if it seems a little worthy, this must-read for any aspiring writer is freely available online. And it will save you a fortune in the long run ’ because in some shape or form, most "how-to' writing books owe a huge debt to it.

Book list curated by Will Nicklin, Junior Writer at The Clearing