A leading independent publication about strategic branding worldwide.

Branding Fundamentals: Who Are the Top 4 Scholars You Should Start Reading First?

Branding Scholars

When it comes to understanding branding and marketing concepts, academic authors are wise choices. Their research and expertise offer a theoretical foundation that can benefit both university students and marketing experts.

However, with many branding scholars to choose from, identifying the top ones can be a challenge. So, where should you start exactly?

Our recommendation is to begin with the works of Philip Kotler, David Aaker, Jean-Noël Kapferer, and Kevin Lane Keller. By diving into their writings, you’ll build a strong foundation in branding theory.

While many other scholars and thought leaders have shaped the world’s understanding of branding, starting with these four is a solid start. They are also our top go-to sources to inform our branding concepts articles and have influenced the structure of our brand-building course.

Announcement: Our practical course 'How to Build a Successful Brand' is launching soon. Join the Priority List now for a $150 Discount and be notified when we go live!

Philip Kotler: The Father of Modern Marketing

Philip Kotler
Image credits: Philip Kotler

Philip Kotler is famous worldwide as the “father of modern marketing.” He’s been teaching at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University for over 50 years. Kotler’s book, Marketing Management, is the most widely used textbook in marketing worldwide.


  • Kotler authored 90 books and over 150 articles (the complete list is available here), notably on various marketing topics such as Principles of Marketing, Marketing for Hospitality and Tourism, and Strategic Marketing for Nonprofit Organizations.
  • He expanded the marketing field to encompass non-profits and governments, pioneered social marketing, introduced “demarketing,” and developed concepts like “prosumers” and “societal marketing.”
  • Kotler’s recent works, including publications like Confronting Capitalism, Democracy in Decline, and Brand Activism, critique capitalism and advocate for economic justice.
  • As a consultant, he has worked with major companies like IBM and Ford and has lectured at numerous international events.

Kotler has mainly influenced marketing as a whole by providing insights into strategic marketing, consumer marketing, business marketing, professional services marketing, and digital marketing, which in turn affects branding and brand management strategies.

However, he has also contributed to branding-specific topics, especially those related to B2B brand management, place branding, social purpose, and brand activism.

Main resources for brand strategists


Our first recommendation is to start with his book Marketing Management (later co-authored with Kevin Lane Keller), which is a must-read and the foundation of his work.

Then, it can be interesting to explore his branding-specific books, some of which are co-authored with other experts, including:

Academic papers

In terms of articles, his recent work on a more ethical approach to branding is also interesting. Some examples include:


David Aaker: The Father of Modern Branding

David Aaker
Image credits: David Aaker

If Philip Kotler is acknowledged as the “father of modern marketing,” then David Aaker is esteemed as the “father of modern branding.” His studies and ideas have had a significant impact on the field of marketing, but most specifically on strategic branding.

David Aaker is actively involved in advising on branding, holds the position of Professor Emeritus at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley, and is highly regarded as a speaker and influential thinker. He imparts his insights at global conferences and gatherings, both as a LinkedIn Influencer and through The Prophet’s blog. Aaker is a renowned expert in branding and has been honored with multiple awards for his lifelong commitment to the areas of marketing and brand strategy.

In his 1991 book “Managing Brand Equity”, David Aaker introduced the Brand Equity Model. This model urged marketing leaders to prioritize the development of their brand’s value over time, emphasizing the importance of strategic measures like brand equity. By shifting the focus from immediate sales figures to long-term brand strength, companies can lay the groundwork for sustained profitability and success in the competitive market.


David Aaker has published over 100 articles and 18 books on marketing theory, but most specifically on brand strategy. His most famous books are Building Strong Brands, Aaker on Branding: 20 Principles That Drive Success, Brand Relevance, Spanning Silos, Brand Portfolio Strategy, Uncommon Growth in the Digital Age, and From Fargo to the World of Brands. 

He is most famous for developing Aaker’s Brand Equity Model and contributing to the fields of brand strategy, marketing, brand building, brand identity, managing brand equity, creating signature stories, and higher-purpose programs.

Main resources for brand strategists


Our go-to book from David Aaker is Building Strong Brands (first edited in 1996 and re-edited recently), and we highly recommend it to anyone interested in brand-building. Other highly relevant branding-related books are:

Academic papers

Some of his most recent papers published in scientific journals include the though-provoking piece Branding: too often overlooked in disruptive innovation and social purpose arenas (2023), Winning against a dominant brand (2020) and What are Your Signature Stories (2016) with Jennifer Aaker.

You can also read his blog posts on The Prophet and on LinkedIn.


Jean-Noël Kapferer: A Reference In Brand Identity and Strategic Brand Management

Jean-Noël Kapferer
Image credits: Jean-Noël Kapferer

Jean-Noël Kapferer, a renowned expert in brand management, is known for his advanced work on brand identity, strategic brand management, brand portfolios, brand architectures, and, most recently, prestige and luxury management.

He earned his Ph.D. from Kellogg Business School at Northwestern University in the USA. Holding the Pernod-Ricard Chair on the Management of Prestige Brands, he teaches Luxury Management in China, Korea, and Japan. He also teaches at HEC Paris and mentors doctoral students.

As a consultant to top international corporations and a sought-after speaker at global conferences, he shares his insights on brand strategy and management across major cities such as New York, Beijing, and Tokyo.


Kapferer has authored over a hundred articles published in prestigious journals worldwide and fifteen influential books on brand management and communication. His top books are “Strategic Brand Management” ( now in its fourth edition, 2008), “Re-inventing the Brand ” (2001), “The Luxury Strategy” (2009) and “Rumours” (1991).

He was recognized for his work on brand identity and strategic brand management and received the 2004 American Marketing Association Award for his impactful article on “Local versus multinational brand strategy.”

Kapferer is also famous for his Brand Identity Prism, a well-known marketing model consisting of a hexagonal prism representing the six key elements of brand identity.

Main resources for brand strategists


Jean-Noël Kapferer’s book The New Strategic Brand Management: Advanced Insights and Strategic Thinking (2012) is a must-have on any brand strategist’s bookshelf. This book is the most structured and complete approach we’ve found when it comes to understanding what branding is and how to create and manage brands. Like the other books in this list, the content is very theoretical but also very useful when it comes to understanding the complete loop of strategic branding.

He also quite recently participated in the book The Future of Branding (2016), written by a wide list of branding experts. His most recent work, however, is focused on luxury strategy.

Academic papers

The list of scientific articles is also long, but some of his most recent branding-specific pieces include: Do brand personality scales really measure brand personality? (2003), The post-global brand (2005), Is there really no hope for local brands? (2002). He also wrote several articles about brands and branding in French. The full list of publications is available here.

Kevin Lane Keller: One of the Most Heavily Cited of All Marketing Academics

Kevin Lane Keller
Image credits: Kevin Lane Keller

Kevin Lane Keller, is a widely quoted and known marketing expert in the academic field. Two of his books are some of the most widely used in business schools worldwide.

His main areas of expertise are marketing management, branding, brand equity, brand management; integrated marketing communications, and advertising.

He is the E. B. Osborn Professor of Marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College and holds degrees from Cornell, Duke, and Carnegie-Mellon universities. He has advised top brands like Accenture, Disney, Nike, and Samsung.



Keller is highly cited with over 120 published papers and is renowned for his textbooks on brand and marketing management.

His most prominent achievement is the creation of the widely acclaimed book “Strategic Brand Management” (1998, 2002, 2008, and 2012), a renowned resource on brand management. Furthermore, Philip Kotler handpicked Keller as his co-author for the latest edition of the leading textbook “Marketing Management.”

Keller’s research findings have been featured in distinguished publications such as the Journal of Marketing, Journal of Marketing Research, and Journal of Consumer Research.

Main resources for brand strategists


Kevin Lane Keller’s most valuable resource for brand strategists is his best-selling book, Strategic Brand Management, co-written with Vanitha Swaminathan. This book is considered his main work on branding and is an essential read for anyone interested in the subject. Another branding-related book is Best Practice Cases in Branding.

Academic papers

Additionally, Keller is an active researcher who publishes marketing and branding-related papers yearly. His most recent articles related to brand strategy are listed below:

We have reached the end of our list. We sincerely hope that you have found it useful. If you appreciate this type of resource, kindly let us know in the comments below, and we will create a more comprehensive list of scholars in the branding field.

  • Philip Kotler. (2014). Philip Kotler. [online] Available at: https://www.pkotler.org/bio.
  • Business Transformation Consultants | Prophet. (n.d.). David Aaker: Vice Chairman | Prophet. [online] Available at: https://prophet.com/author/david-aaker/.
  • HEC Paris. (2016). Jean-Noel KAPFERER, Emeritus Professor | HEC Paris. [online] Available at: https://www.hec.edu/en/faculty-research/faculty-directory/faculty-member/kapferer-jean-noel.
  • www.tuck.dartmouth.edu. (n.d.). Kevin Lane Keller. [online] Available at: https://www.tuck.dartmouth.edu/faculty/faculty-directory/kevin-lane-keller.
    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    Related Posts