An informative read from an author with plenty of practical experience.

BRAND IS A FOUR LETTER WORD

POSITIONING AND THE REAL ART OF MARKETING

An advertising and marketing veteran demonstrates that the keys to a successful consumer brand may be simple but making them work isn’t easy.

McGhie’s take on brand development and positioning is based on his three decades at Ogilvy & Mather, Sterling Brands and other leading consumer marketers (from the start of the book, he begs marketers to stop using “brand” as a verb). By McGhie’s definition, a company’s brand isn’t an outcome the company can wholly control; rather, it’s the public’s response to the product and experience the company offers. The book encourages marketers to focus their efforts on the aspects of the product and experience within their control, which McGhie calls “positioning.” With a focus more on concepts and strategy than implementation and tactics, the book draws on examples from the author’s own successes and failures, along with well-known brand histories. Apple is the object of copious praise—readers will be left with no questions about what McGhie thinks of his Kindle Fire in comparison to Apple products—as are Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, Nike’s unabashed embrace of the competitive spirit, and Google’s global vision. Sears, Jaguar and TiVo make frequent appearances as examples of positioning efforts gone wrong. Among McGhie’s key themes, which appear in different contexts throughout the book, are the importance of understanding what customers do (as opposed to what they say) and the necessity of ensuring that the product is prepared to deliver everything its messaging promises. While these lessons will be familiar to students and practitioners of marketing, McGhie’s style—especially his evident antipathy toward marketing jargon—and his obvious passion for the business make the book an engaging read that may well spark some refreshing corner-office epiphanies. An end-of-the-book restatement of each chapter’s major points is useful as a quick reference.

An informative read from an author with plenty of practical experience.

Pub Date: April 15, 2012

ISBN: 978-1599323275

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Advantage Media Group

Review Posted Online: Nov. 5, 2012

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A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

STILLNESS IS THE KEY

An exploration of the importance of clarity through calmness in an increasingly fast-paced world.

Austin-based speaker and strategist Holiday (Conspiracy: Peter Thiel, Hulk Hogan, Gawker, and the Anatomy of Intrigue, 2018, etc.) believes in downshifting one’s life and activities in order to fully grasp the wonder of stillness. He bolsters this theory with a wide array of perspectives—some based on ancient wisdom (one of the author’s specialties), others more modern—all with the intent to direct readers toward the essential importance of stillness and its “attainable path to enlightenment and excellence, greatness and happiness, performance as well as presence.” Readers will be encouraged by Holiday’s insistence that his methods are within anyone’s grasp. He acknowledges that this rare and coveted calm is already inside each of us, but it’s been worn down by the hustle of busy lives and distractions. Recognizing that this goal requires immense personal discipline, the author draws on the representational histories of John F. Kennedy, Buddha, Tiger Woods, Fred Rogers, Leonardo da Vinci, and many other creative thinkers and scholarly, scientific texts. These examples demonstrate how others have evolved past the noise of modern life and into the solitude of productive thought and cleansing tranquility. Holiday splits his accessible, empowering, and sporadically meandering narrative into a three-part “timeless trinity of mind, body, soul—the head, the heart, the human body.” He juxtaposes Stoic philosopher Seneca’s internal reflection and wisdom against Donald Trump’s egocentric existence, with much of his time spent “in his bathrobe, ranting about the news.” Holiday stresses that while contemporary life is filled with a dizzying variety of “competing priorities and beliefs,” the frenzy can be quelled and serenity maintained through a deliberative calming of the mind and body. The author shows how “stillness is what aims the arrow,” fostering focus, internal harmony, and the kind of holistic self-examination necessary for optimal contentment and mind-body centeredness. Throughout the narrative, he promotes that concept mindfully and convincingly.

A timely, vividly realized reminder to slow down and harness the restorative wonders of serenity.

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-525-53858-5

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Portfolio

Review Posted Online: July 21, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

ECONOMIC DIGNITY

Noted number cruncher Sperling delivers an economist’s rejoinder to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Former director of the National Economic Council in the administrations of Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, the author has long taken a view of the dismal science that takes economic justice fully into account. Alongside all the metrics and estimates and reckonings of GDP, inflation, and the supply curve, he holds the great goal of economic policy to be the advancement of human dignity, a concept intangible enough to chase the econometricians away. Growth, the sacred mantra of most economic policy, “should never be considered an appropriate ultimate end goal” for it, he counsels. Though 4% is the magic number for annual growth to be considered healthy, it is healthy only if everyone is getting the benefits and not just the ultrawealthy who are making away with the spoils today. Defining dignity, admits Sperling, can be a kind of “I know it when I see it” problem, but it does not exist where people are a paycheck away from homelessness; the fact, however, that people widely share a view of indignity suggests the “intuitive universality” of its opposite. That said, the author identifies three qualifications, one of them the “ability to meaningfully participate in the economy with respect, not domination and humiliation.” Though these latter terms are also essentially unquantifiable, Sperling holds that this respect—lack of abuse, in another phrasing—can be obtained through a tight labor market and monetary and fiscal policy that pushes for full employment. In other words, where management needs to come looking for workers, workers are likely to be better treated than when the opposite holds. In still other words, writes the author, dignity is in part a function of “ ‘take this job and shove it’ power,” which is a power worth fighting for.

A declaration worth hearing out in a time of growing inequality—and indignity.

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9848-7987-5

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Penguin Press

Review Posted Online: Feb. 26, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2020

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