Read These 10 Category Design Books To Master The Craft

If you’re ready to design and dominate a category, pick up one (or all) of these category design books.

If you’re looking to design and dominate a category, category design books are a great way to learn.

Written by entrepreneurs, investors, and creators who have successfully become known for their own niche, these books give practical frameworks alongside stories about the ups and downs of creating a new category.

Both newcomers and seasoned pros will benefit from reading about how other companies and category designers apply this business strategy.

So, here are 10 category design books to start learning.

10 Category Design Books To Learn The Fundamentals

Pick up one (or all) of these books to begin discovering the art and science of category design.

1. Play Bigger: How Pirates, Dreamers, and Innovators Create and Dominate Markets

In Play Bigger, authors Al Ramadan, Dave Peterson, Christopher Lochhead, and Kevin Maney introduce the groundbreaking discipline called category design.

By applying category design, companies can create new demand and change customers’ expectations and buying habits. This isn’t about beating the competition or creating the best product. It’s about inventing a whole new game.

Play Bigger dives into data analysis and interviews to understand the inner workings of “Category Kings.”

These companies, such as Amazon, Salesforce, Uber, and IKEA, give the world new ways of living, thinking, or doing business. They solve problems people didn’t know they had. And they use data analysis to predict the future and continue winning the category.

Read this to learn why you can’t build a legendary company without building a legendary category.

2. Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind

Positioning by Al Ries and Jack Trout offers timeless strategic marketing thinking.

The book looks at the failures and successes of prominent advertising campaigns to understand what went wrong—and what went right. Often, failed campaigns and companies didn’t create a “position” in a prospective customer’s mind. So Ries and Trout explain how to make and position an industry leader so its name and message stick in consumers’ minds.

Read this if you’re ready to learn tried-and-true tactics to claim a niche, capture the biggest market share, and become a Category King everyone knows about.

3. Crossing The Chasm: Marketing and Selling Disruptive Products to Mainstream Customers

In this breakthrough book, author Geoffrey A. Moore uses Languaging to describe the “chasm” innovative startups must cross in order to move their products out of the phase of early adoption and into the mainstream market.

We Pirates love Crossing The Chasm, and we often refer to the “chasm” separating the early adopters and later-stage customer segments in our own work. Everyone in business knows (or should know) this book. It shares why companies that fail to cross this chasm, despite inventing wildly ambitious technologies, fail to achieve a level of adoption and profitability that establishes them as real companies.

Read this to discover a brilliant solution to an age-old problem: “Our product is amazing—so why isn’t it taking off?”

4. Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy, and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth

Eclectic diehards have a lot in common.

In Superconsumers, Category Pirate and author Eddie Yoon reveals the mysteries behind people who are obsessed with a specific brand, product, or category. They pursue their passions withfervor, and they’re extremely knowledgeable about the things they love. They aren’t average consumers—they’re Superconsumers.

This small but mighty group of people represents about 10% of total customers, but they can have an outsized impact on a company’s bottom line.

Yoon explains a simple, effective framework to find, listen to, and engage with your Superconsumers. He shares tons of case studies and stories about what makes this group of consumers tick. And he explains why they’re willing to spend so much more than the average consumer.

Read this for a fun, practical guide to understanding the customers who drive between 30% to 70% of sales in any given category.

5. Niche Down: How To Become Legendary By Being Different

Do you want to be known for a niche you own?

Authors Christopher Lochhead (a founding Category Pirate) and Heather Clancy share why the people we admire most in the world do not fit in—they stand out. (Hint: they do this by applying a research-based approach called category design.) When you use category design in your life and business, you can achieve legendary results.

Read this to understand what makes you different, and how you can use your uniqueness to design a category, conquer it, and be crowned the Category King or Queen.

6. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!

Authors and marketing consultants Al Ries and Jack Trout joined forces to explain the laws of marketing every marketer, creator, and entrepreneur must know to create winning companies.

The Law of Hype. The Law of Category. The Law of the Mind. And more.

This book is one of our go-to guides here at Category Pirates, and a must-read for aspiring Category Designers.

7. The Category Design Toolkit: 15 Frameworks For Creating & Dominating Your Niche

At Category Pirates, we know that the business world is starting to wake up and realize branding comes second to category design.

We wrote this book to walk readers through 15 mind-altering frameworks for how to see business, life, and the way people organize information into "categories" in their minds. You’ll learn how to objectively measure whether you and your company are creating a new category or competing in someone else's (existing) category. We’ll explain how to prosecute The Magic Triangle: product design, company/business model design, and category design. And you’ll discover how to find your Superconsumers, and leverage Superconsumer data to discover new potential categories.

Read this book to learn the fundamentals of engineering a category breakthrough (even if you think your industry is "too saturated" or "all the good ideas are taken").

8. How To Build Your First (Crazy Profitable) Business As A Teenager: 18 Radical Ideas For 18-Year-Old Entrepreneurs And Younger

There has never been a better time to start a business as a teenager than right now.

And guess what? Making money doesn’t require a college degree anymore. Just an Internet connection and a radical idea. That’s why we speak directly to teenagers itching to start their entrepreneurial careers in this book. And we share 18 actionable and radical ideas to start making money immediately as a teenager.

Read this if you don’t want to wait for permission to start your first business.

9. A Marketer’s Guide To Category Design: How To Escape The "Better" Trap, Dam The Demand, And Launch A Lightning Strike

We believe a mediocre Category Designer will always beat a world-class marketer.

The reason why is that "He or she who frames the problem owns the solution." Without this context—without a category—your marketing becomes nothing but screaming, shouting, and pitching customers with deals, discounts, and other short-term tactics. But are any of these efforts going to compound over time and establish you as the category leader?

In this guide, we explain the difference between content marketing that captures people's attention and makes a difference versus content that goes nowhere.

Read this if you’re an entrepreneur or executive who wants to approach marketing through a category lens.

10. Snow Leopard: How Legendary Writers Create A Category Of One

Our team at Category Pirates wrote Snow Leopard to give writers the tools to approach their work through a category design lens.

Inside, you won’t find a bunch of nose-picky suggestions for how you can make your writing “better.” There will be no talk of comma placement, grammatical correctness, or a recap of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero’s Journey.” But there will be lessons on Languaging, The Art Of Fresh Thinking, Writer Business Models, and so much more.

Read this if you’re a writer who wants to create a category for yourself, monetize in new ways, and enjoy a career of independence, creative freedom, and exponential financial upside.