David A. Aaker
Aaker is the author of a hundred articles and fourteen books on branding. His first two books, Managing Brand Equity (1992) and Building Strong Brands (1995) are still classics. You could also skip to his latest, Aaker on Branding (2014). He was the first author to treat branding as a strategic skill on the level of business management.
Dawar has only one book, and it’s a humdinger. It’s called Tilt (2013), which refers to the recent shift in strategic advantage from upstream activities like product manufacturing to downstream activities like brand building. Dawar is a professor of marketing at the Ivey Business School. He makes many of the same points as I do in The Brand Flip, but from a traditional business perspective.
Where to start with Seth? He’s both a rebellious thinker and a straight shooter. He’s always exploring the leading edge of marketing, bringing us once-heretical but now-classic concepts like Permission Marketing (1999), Unleashing the Ideavirus (2001), and Tribes (2008). His book Purple Cow (2009) is in the same vein as my book ZAG. All his books are inspiring and fun to read. Check out the latest at sethgodin.com.
Kelley is a partner at the prestigious industrial design firm IDEO. His first book, The Art of Innovation (2001), was an international hit, bringing the work of IDEO to the attention of business leaders. He followed that with The Ten Faces of Innovation (2006). His latest, Creative Confidence (2013), was co-written with his brother and IDEO founder David Kelley. They show how anyone in business can be creative, not just those with “design” in their titles.
Roger L. Martin
Martin is perhaps the leading proponent of design thinking in the business management arena. For many years he was the dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. Today he leads the Martin Prosperity Institute, which focuses on the future of democratic capitalism. His books The Opposable Mind (2009) and The Design of Business (2009) are must-reads for managers hoping to innovate.
Ries has written quite a few books on branding, some on his own, some with his daughter Laura, and many more with his early co-author Jack Trout. Ries and Trout wrote Positioning (1981), the seminal book that got me thinking about brand strategy. Others I found useful were The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (1994), Marketing Warfare (1997), and Focus (2005).
Schrage was one of the first thought leaders to focus on collaboration as the key component of innovation in business. His book Shared Minds (1990) broke the ice. He followed that book with Serious Play (1999), about the role of prototyping in collaborative groups. Later he wrote a slim but prescient book called Who Do You Want Your Customers to Become? (2012), which had a strong influence on my book The Brand Flip. Continuing further into prototyping and “cheap experiments,” he wrote The Innovator’s Hypothesis (2014). More designers should read Schrage.
Kit Yarrow, PhD
Yarrow is “consumer psychologist.” She studies how people shop, why they buy, and what their purchases mean for them and us. In Decoding the New Consumer Mind (2014), she asserts that technology has rewired our brains, making us more individualistic, isolated, emotional, and distrustful. It’s a practical and beautifully presented guide to addressing customers’ desires and insecurities in a time of deep cultural shifts.