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4 mins

From Apple to Disney: The Stories Behind 7 Of Our Favorite Brands

How do world-class brands get to become so well-known and beloved? These books describe the histories of 7 companies, from Apple to LEGO.
by Tom Anderson | Oct 4 2016

we like nike

With its carefully crafted story, beautiful visuals, and vibrant marketing, a great brand is almost like a work of art. But, as with any creative success, developing a remarkable brand takes time and effort. To give you an idea of what designing a globally relevant brand entails, here are seven titles that tell the surprising, inspiring, and sometimes shocking tales of seven of the world’s most beloved brands.

1. Design to Grow by Davis Butler & Linda Tischler

You may or may not know that in the eighteenth century, the British East India Company used to run most of India. No brand these days can (thankfully) hope of attaining that much power, but if one company comes close in terms of global reach, it’s Coca-Cola. Coke is currently worth around $80 billion and people from Antigua to Zambia are familiar with its red and white logo. But how did Coke grow from a small company in provincial Georgia to become a global monolith? Design to Grow explains how Coke focus their whole brand strategy, from design to production, on continuously growing and innovating.

2. Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson

What do you think might be the biggest brand in the world? If you guessed Apple, congratulations! You’re precisely right. In fact, according to Interbrand, the company has been top of the branding pile for the last three years, and in 2015 it was worth a whopping $170.3 billion. But how did the company get into this coveted power-player position? You can discover what’s made Apple so successful by reading the stories of their two founding Stevens: Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. Although each man came with a distinct background and skillset—Wozniak was the technical genius, and Jobs the design-focused visionary—together, they made this Apple the biggest.

3. Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

When you hear the word “slogan,” the example that probably springs first to mind is Nike’s iconic “just do it.” This slogan, along with canny advertising featuring athletes like Michael Jordan and Serena Williams, not to mention highly fashionable athletic gear, have allowed Nike to rise to the top of the industry. In his book, Shoe Dog, Nike founder Phil Knight explains how he created one of the planet’s most recognized brands.

4. Brick by Brick by David Robertson –

Whether they stick rigidly to the instructions or freestyle with their own designs, playing with LEGO is a love shared by children the world over. The company has even branched out from toy building blocks and square little figures to computer games and even feature-films. However, things haven’t always been so rosy for the brand. Brick by Brick details how LEGO managed to come back from near bankruptcy in the 1990s to become one of the leading toy brands in the new century.

5. Disney U by Doug Lipp

When it comes to enthralling children, nobody comes close to Disney. Since way back when Walt Disney was busy with Steamboat Willie and Snow White, the Disney brand has been expertly plucking heartstrings. And it’s not only the animations that inspire devotion to Disney: the company’s theme parks are famous the world over. In Disney U, discover the sheer amount of training and development that Disneyland and Disneyworld staff take on in order to create the happiest places on earth.

6. The Monopolists by Mary Pilon

Anyone who has experienced the viciousness that can arise from an innocent family Monopoly game knows that few family activities arouse as much passion as this real estate trading board game. But, did you know about the fascinating history behind the brand? In The Monopolists, discover how the game started as a political tool with a communitarian twist before being purchased by Parker Brothers. You’ll also discover how Parker Brothers tried to rewrite the game’s history, even to the point of suing those who disagreed with their version.

7.Start Something that Matters by Blake Mycoskie

In recent years, a new type of do-gooder brand has been growing in popularity. Brands which aspire to the idea of conscious capitalism—that is, the desire to give back to society rather than just make money. TOMS Shoes are a brand leading this conscious capital movement: for every pair of shoes sold, the company donates another to a child in need. In Start Something that Matters, the company’s founder, Blake Mycoskie, explains how he created the company and offers advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs.

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