Designing Brand Identity is an enlightening and helpful resource on the branding process. Its author, Alina Wheeler, is a brand consultant and branding speaker with an obviously exhaustive knowledge of her field.
Trouble is, she is just that: a brand consultant/speaker, not a writer. That may sound harsh, but one read through her book will justify my position. Designing Brand Identity is not written in the typical, straight-forward prose fashion one might expect. Rather, each two-page spread consists of an introductory paragraph, a usually poorly designed graphic, and then lists. My God, the lists. Wheeler creates lists on every topic presented in the book, from "branding imperatives" to "qualities of an effective name" to the project management process. Each of the lists contains so much information, and so much overlap with other lists, that the reader is left with a profound sense of inundation. These lists do at least help to inform the reader of the branding process, but surely a more straightforward prose approach would have been far more accessible and pleasant to read.
I mentioned overlap in information presented in the lists. This is also true of the topics presented in the book. Without clearly defining individual terms she uses, Wheeler recycles similar language for a number of subjects, blurring the line between them and making it difficult to understand exactly what, for example, the exact difference between brand positioning, brand value, and brand message are. As these are fundamentals of branding, her lack of clarity in explaining them proves detrimental.
To make the reader's understanding even less cohesive, Wheeler starkly separates information in the one area in which it could use more overlap and integration: examples. "Part 3" of the book presents case studies of companies whose branding processes exemplify the best practices she details throughout Parts 1 and 2. However, the book would benefit immensely from integrating these examples into Parts 1 and 2. Instead, Parts 1 and 2 present abstracted theory about branding, without grounding it at all in real-life examples, and thus again make it difficult to understand how these theories are to actually be applied.
All that is not to say that the book is useless. On the contrary, I found that Designing Brand Identity greatly enhanced my understanding of the entire branding process. However, this was likely due to my relative ignorance on the topic; thus, the book may only be useful to those with a similarly novice understanding of branding. Furthermore, the book is a difficult read for anyone from novices to branding experts due to the reasons given above. While I read David Airey's "Logo Design Love" (an infinitely more cohesive guide to designing logos) in two days, reading Designing Brand Identity took roughly 1.5 months. Wheeler would do well to read Airey's book for a stellar example of how best to present a design-related topic in a way that doesn't overwhelm and frustrate the reader.