Books That Inspire Us

Our Favorite Life-Changing and Inspirational Advertising, Design, and Marketing Books

In our field you have to be a perpetual learner. You have to be able to absorb and be curious about developments and new technology. You have to be agile and willing to grow in order to sustain a foothold in our rapidly changing industry.

The alternative is to be stuck in limbo, cherishing the status quo and not pushing creative boundaries in a space that is incredibly creative and saturated. This is not sustainable.

How does one keep abreast of all the changes and new technology and shifting consumer habits? Well, one could read case studies and white papers; go to workshops, seminars, and conferences; participate in webinars; listen to podcasts; and view live streams. The options are endless for learning in the digital space. With that said, in this blog we are going to go the analog route and give you a glimpse into the books that we carry with us. These are the inspirational books that continually pave the way for our decision-making and creative processes.

As good digital neighbors and community stewards, we’ve compiled a list of some of Britton Marketing & Design Group’s favorite books to share with you. We hope you add some to your Amazon cart or your library card.

Like a gracious host, I will get us started. I love reading (I’m such an outlier!), but I don’t have enough time to spend reading (another thing that must be completely singular to my situation) due to having three kids, a wife, and other obligations. I have spent the last few years honing my skills in regard to and learning about content strategy. And because of the relatively new nature of this field, I, too, have been influenced by Content Strategy for the Web, by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach. This is widely considered to be the guiding document for anyone who wants to pursue the field of content strategy.

But I would be remiss if I didn’t give a shoutout to some of my other favorites as well, including Content Strategy for Mobile, by Karen McGrane; Everybody Writes, by Ann Handley; and basically any book published by A Book Apart.

So let’s get cracking.

Our Favorite Books That Fuel Our Inspiration and Creativity

Youtility: Why Smart Marketing Is About Help Not Hype, by Jay Baer
“I like Youtility because the cornerstone of Baer’s ideas go back to helping others—something I immensely value in my own life, let alone in my professional life. It puts the focus of marketing and business practices on community, not on making money. It encourages collaboration, relevance, and highly attuned listening in order to provide value to your audience and foster a relationship with them. Relationships, done the right way, convert. Bonus points: It’s not just about digital marketing; it’s about marketing and business as a whole.” —Ashley Motia, digital content editor

Youtility - List of Inspirational Books

The Braindead Megaphone, by George Saunders
“This collection of essays by short-story writer and all-around sage George Saunders tackles some of the biggest social issues of our time—cable news, immigration, the possible enlightenment of a 15-year-old Nepalese boy—but its value for creatives is Saunders’ ability to take complex problems and, through metaphor, humor, and thought experiments, reduce them to their component parts. These essays are an illustration of Chekhov’s famous dictum that the artist’s role is not to provide solutions—it’s to provide the proper articulation of the problem.” —Eric Howell, copywriter

Branded Megaphone - List of Inspirational Books

Why Johnny Can’t Brand: Rediscovering the Lost Art of the Big Idea, by Bill Schley and Carl Nichols Jr.
“It is the forgotten rules that govern brand efficacy, no matter what the channel.” —Nathan Zwilling, director of paid media

Johnny Can't Brand - List of Inspirational Books

The Magic of Maths: Solving for x and Figuring Out Why, by Arthur Benjamin
“My vain attempt to revive the brain cells where my work on advanced calculus was once housed.” —Jeff Britton, president and co-owner

Magic of Math - List of Inspirational Books

Savage Oxygen, by Chris Savage
From the Amazon book description: “Savage Oxygen is a ‘mobile mentor’ of inspiration for happier, more successful careers and lives. Master storyteller Chris Savage shares leadership and life lessons to inspire more vibrant, successful careers, and happier, more fulfilling lives.“ —Catherine Wood, creative director

Savage Oxygen - List of Inspirational Books

Start with Why, by Simon Sinek
“When I was working at Vera Bradley this book was very helpful when I was doing sales training for retailers and our internal teams. Many of us know what we do, or even how we do it, but so often we forget to ask why we do what we do.” —Dana Wallace, customer service manager

Start With - List of Inspirational Books

Madison Avenue Manslaughter: An Inside View of Fee-Cutting Clients, Profit-Hungry Owners and Declining Ad Agencies, by Michael Farmer
“A book full of reasons why I am glad we are not an ad agency. And it authenticates our position as an integrated agency with a set of omnichannel services.” —Jeff Britton, president and co-owner

Madison Ave - List of Inspirational Books

All the President’s Men, by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward
“As a fresh-out-of-college reporter covering the county beat for the Great Falls Tribune, in Great Falls, Montana, I had no illusions of ever being the caliber of investigative reporter that Woodward and Bernstein were. But reading the book in the late 1970s convinced me that I was in the right career field, one that combined two loves: people and words.” —Marcia Kirlin, proofreader / copy editor

Presidents Men- List of Inspirational Books

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
Big Magic, for me, came at a time when I I needed permission to pursue my creativity and not feel, well, stupid about it. Gilbert related to my inner demons, at times comically, and made them seem not so crazy (because I wasn’t alone with them) and rather pointless.” —Devon Aragona, social media manager

Big Magic - List of Inspirational Books

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear, by Elizabeth Gilbert
“Gilbert’s book centers on the idea of creativity, and as a writer, I often believe that I am defined by my work. Yet she makes a great point in stating that your artistry is your own—and your talents don’t always need approval from others.” —Amy Bruining, copywriter

Let My People Go Surfing: The Education of a Reluctant Businessman, by Yvon Chouinard
“This book by Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard tells the story of an uncompromising company whose success is rooted in an important insight: If consumers believe that you share their values, they are willing to pay more for your products.” —Eric Howell, copywriter

Surfing - List of Inspirational Books

What Do You Do with an Idea?, by Kobi Yamada
“This is a great children’s book that inspires creativity and new ideas!” —Dana Wallace, customer service manager

Idea - List of Inspirational Books

The Coming Jobs War, by Jim Clifton
“The best read in why the regional competition for good-paying jobs will build our community or speed its demise. Short and clear.” —Jeff Britton, president and co-owner

The Coming Jobs War - List of Inspirational Books

Not Really Analog but Still Inspirational

Dwell magazine and (and its email newsletter) are my inspiration for remodeling ideas. Much of the design is super clean, contemporary, and sustainable, and many reclaimed materials are used—from rusty metal to old barn wood to large shipping containers. New can be made from old. It is a way to help reuse and recycle and create a one-of-a-kind space.” —Paige Strong, senior account/project manager

And account manager Emily Powell wanted to share one of her favorite quotes, which comes from Maya Angelou: “The question is not how to survive but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor, and style.”

And one more thing ...

If you’re ready to take your inspiration devotion to a new level, how about trying on a pair of these inspirational tights printed with quotes from your favorite books?

Happy reading!

Photos: Amazon, Shutterstock/Hlorgeksidin

Niclas Hulting

Niclas Hulting

Director of online content strategy who enjoys the strategic part and feels content about the other. Loves to read fantasy and industry books. Writes about social media and content strategy most of the time.

Meet Niclas Hulting