The Abolition of Man – C.S. Lewis
Lewis explores the essential place meaning has in the life of every man, and describes the emptiness of man bereft of meaning. This is essentially the state of the people we are communicating with in our markets today.
The Art of Plain Talk – Rudolf Flesch
In this classic book on communication, Flesch explains how people connect with people rather than abstractions like a company. When that connection is made, then communication is enhanced.
The Cluetrain Manifesto – Levine, Locke, Searls & Weinberger
This work is important in two ways”
1. It is an excellent example of a manifesto. Read it and absorb it to grasp the structure and feel of a manifesto.
2. The authors recognized early on that loyalty was going to be lost in the networked markets. They accepted that loss as inevitable. I disagree.
From Dawn to Decadence – Jacques Barzun
On one level, this is merely an extraordinarily well-written history of Western cultural life from 1500-to the present. On another level though, you can read it as deep insight into the true nature of human beings. Cult Your Brand is designed to appeal to what is fundamental in humans.
God’s Debris – Scott Adams
If you want to successfully Cult Your Brand, you have to look at your market in a completely different way than the received wisdom of our ancestors tells us we should. This little book will jolt you out of your preconceived worldview, which is an essential place to start.
The Ghost in My Brain – Clark Elliott
This is a stunning, first-person account of traumatic brain injury, it’s after-effects and – most importantly – recovery from it. Recovery from TBI is something the “experts” have long said was impossible. Clark Elliott – and a couple of dedicated doctors – proved that the experts were wrong.
This book is important because it demonstrates the plasticity of the human brain and also gives an inside view of the “Fast Brain/Slow Brain” duality we discuss in the course.
How to Build a Flying Saucer After So Many Amateurs Have Failed – T.B. Pawlicki
It is astonishing how swiftly impossible barriers fall once you decide that they are not impossible. This entertaining (and difficult to find) book is sub-titled “Adventures in Speculative Engineering.” Another excellent nudge to get you looking at the problems of branding, loyalty and persuasion from an entirely new angle.
How to Fail at Almost Everything – Scott Adams
Adams describes the multiplied power of building what he calls a “Talent Stack.” and shows how systems beat goals.
One more example of the power of stacking several of the branding elements, and the power of context over content.
Influence – Robert Cialdini
Cialdini’s magnum opus is considered the bible in the art, science and psychology of persuasion. He shows that humans are largely defenseless against the rights sorts of persuasion. That’s why Cult Your Brand not only works, but works even if you know it is happening.
Introducing Neural Linguistic Programming – O’Connor & Seymour
The field of NLP is controversial to say the least. However, this book will give you a good overview of the science, (or at least the application of the theory.) Among the most rewarding insights is that many psychological problems can be cured by changing the context of thinking without ever bothering to change the content. This is a principle central to Cult Your Brand.
Learned Optimism – Martin Seligman
Seligman demonstrates the specific steps we can take to convert our own thinking from optimistic to pessimistic. Another example of the “hackability” of the human brain.
Loyalty Programs Can be a Waste of Money – Stanford
(Online – Stanford.edu) Summary of research findings.
Made to Stick – Heath & Heath
This is actually a marketing book, but is a worthwhile read because the authors get close to stumbling into the core of the Cult Your Brand insights. A good foundational book for learning how humans respond to particular types of communication.
Man’s Search for Meaning – Victor Frankl
At the core of the Cult Your Brand insights is the axiom that humans have an internal drive to have answers to The Big Questions. Aside from being the preeminent work in the genre, this is also an extraordinary, life-affirming story of triumph over unspeakable suffering.
The Nature of Loyalty – Kleinig, John, “Loyalty”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
Scholarly and philosophical discourse on the nature of loyalty.
The Power of Names – Religion & Mathematics – Loren Graham
(Online – Philoctetes.net) Scholarly discourse on the history and power of naming. The power of the ideas presented here have direct application to the creation of your Persona.
Publish a Manifesto – Jerry Michalski
(Online – Forbes.com) Concise overview of why and how to create your own manifesto.
Reddit review of Primal Branding – throwawaycomedian95
This is the book review that led to my, “Aha!” moment. It is a review of Patrick Hanlon’s Primal Branding. (I haven’t actually read the book, but the review was enough to bring together in my mind everything I’d been researching for the previous two decades.) I’m sure I will eventually get around to reading the book.
Stealing Fire – Kotler & Wheal
Creating loyalty in your target audience is a matter of creating a state change in their minds. This book reviews the state-off-the-art in state-change today. Enlightening and exciting.
That Hideous Strength – C.S. Lewis
This work of fiction is an expanded treatise on Lewis’s book The Abolition of Man. If you prefer fiction to non-fiction, read this instead of The Abolition of Man.
Thinking Fast and Slow – Daniel Kahneman
Kahneman won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his astonishing work in cognitive science. He demonstrated conclusively the “two brains” model we use in Cult Your Brand. This book is the layman’s version of his research findings.
The True Believer – Eric Hoffer
At the core of Cult Your Brand is the understanding that people are attracted by context far more powerfully than content. This is the work where that concept was first explained.
Trust Me, I’m Lying – Ryan Holliday
A chilling example of how the internet has made customers easier to find but harder to keep. If you doubt that you need to Cult Your Brand, this book will open your eyes.
The Wisdom of Crowds – James Surowiecki
It turns out that “wisdom” is often resident to a greater degree in groups of people, than in single individuals. This book helped to free my mind from the cultural bias of individual rationality. (Besides, it’s just cool to learn about the origin of the “Guess the Number of Jellybeans” trick.)