I am often asked for recommended reading for this module, not surprising really as I have been teaching it for three years here at The Marketers’ Forum, but it is a tricky question to answer. Not that there aren’t lots of worthwhile books out there talking about branding and about digital, but students want to invest in a couple of books that will see them through the course so it really isn’t helpful for me to suggest sections from 4-5 weighty tomes, each costing £35 plus. So here are my recommendations and it seems to have helped students so far, I hope it will help you.
1. Top of the list and a new entry straight in there this year is Daniel Rowles’ Digital Branding: A complete step-by-step guide to strategy, tactics and measurement. I think CAM might have commissioned this book from Rowles for this course, it is by far the best fit and only came out in January 2014 so is bang up to date with stats and examples. Very easy to read, good case studies and a supporting website with lots of data sources. The downside is that it doesn’t make any attempt to explain the theory of marketing or key marketing or branding concepts, so you will still need “textbooks” for those. But this book will help you understand the important links between digital and brand. I particularly like his definition of a brand as “the sum of all your experiences”, that really puts it into a digital context. Rowles, D (2014) Digital Branding: A complete step-by-step guide to strategy, tactics and measurement. Kogan Page London ISBN 978-0-7494-6995-5
2. There is no CAM module that doesn’t need a Dave Chaffey book, so for this module I recommend Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice by Dave Chaffey and Fiona Ellis Chadwick – the big pink book as I like to call it. You will have bought this for your Digital Marketing Essentials course (or if you are doing that after IDMB then you will need this book for that module so you might as well invest now). It covers everything you need to know on branding, the impact of brand on digital and vice versa, how the digital channels can and should be used together, how to put together an integrated communications plan and the best approach to monitoring and measurement. It is a proper textbook, the models are introduced and explained and there are references back to source material if you need it. In a way its weakness is its size, it is off putting, so you need to take a bite-size approach, pick a topic that you want to read about and nibble away at the case studies or interviews first, then chew on the theory. And of course use active reading techniques, make notes, flag up key pages with labelled post-it notes, underline and highlight and at the end of your reading session make a note of a couple of things you have read that you think will be useful for your assignment. Chaffey, D. & Chadwick Ellis F. (2012) Digital marketing: strategy, implementation and practice. 5th edition. Harlow, Prentice Hall ISBN-13: 9780273746102
3. One of the best ways of understanding how to get something right is to see how others have got it wrong. So my final suggestion is Great Brand Blunders: The Worst Marketing and Social Media Meltdowns of All Time and How to Avoid Your Own by Rob Gray, subtitled The Worst Marketing and Social Media Meltdowns of All Time and How to Avoid Your Own. This is another book to dip into rather than to read from cover to cover but it has a deep historical range of examples as well a great breadth of countries, sectors, companies and marketing and social media activities. The real strength of the book is how Gray sums up at the end how to avoid these blunders; these points sometimes seem to state the obvious but as you realise that huge brands with highly skilled marketing teams can still make such mistakes, we all clearly need to be reminded to get the basics right. Gray, R (2014) Great Brand Blunders: The Worst Marketing and Social Media Meltdowns of All Time and How to Avoid Your Own Crimson Press, UK ISBN-13: 9781780592299
There are lot of other useful books on this topic and I don’t think three books is sufficient reading for a module. Take a look at Understanding Digital Marketing by Damien Ryan and Calvin Jones (new edition due out this month), Emarketing Excellence from Dave Chaffey and PR Smith is a good alternative to the Chaffey & Ellis Chadwick book for this module and PR Smith & Ze Zook’s Marketing Communications: Integrating online and offline is quite basic but covers integrated marketing comms very well.
I hope that helps you, good luck with your studies. Let me know if you have any other suggestions, you can find me on Twitter @sarah_alder. Or maybe I will see you in one of my classes.
You can find out more about studying CAM qualifications with The Marketers’ Forum at www.themarketersforum.co.uk.