TRUSTWORTHY

HOW THE SMARTEST BRANDS BEAT CYNICISM AND BRIDGE THE TRUST GAP

A punchy and stimulating look at building brands.

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A business book offers a methodology for companies to build trust in their potential customers.

“People don’t trust brands like they used to,” Bloomstein notes at the beginning of her work. “Failures of leadership, inconsistent messaging, and deceptive practices” in all areas of public life, from retail to “the halls of governments,” have combined to erode trust in marketed brands of all kinds. “Cynicism takes root,” the author writes, “when people don’t know who to trust and decide not to believe anything.” This is both a threat and a challenge for businesses wishing to build trust in their products and services, and Bloomstein seeks to provide clear and sharp advice for what customers want and what they respond to in the present age. “Users don’t shop for features, or fables,” she asserts. “They shop for benefits first,” for “What’s in it for me?” basics. “Focus on users’ needs,” she advises, “then you can help them focus on the features and details that will make a difference in their decisions.” In the course of her book, the author uses a variety of companies as examples of what to do and how to do it. Brand names like America’s Test Kitchen, GOV.UK, Airbnb, Banana Republic, MailChimp, and others are discussed, sometimes in the context of both Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and the well-known business truism about “good, fast, or cheap”—everybody has to pick two out of the three. At the heart of Bloomstein’s outlook is the importance of simplicity in the flow of information. “Abstraction is different from generalizing,” she shrewdly points out, and “If information is power, it’s because confidence in our own knowledge fuels trust.” The author uses a very clear, lean prose line; marketing directors at all levels will find her insights intriguing, although her discussions of her various example companies can sometimes go too far into the weeds for effective generalizing. In this instance, readers may think of Bloomstein’s own comment that “ ‘More’ isn’t better. It’s exhausting.”

A punchy and stimulating look at building brands.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-989603-92-5

Page Count: 266

Publisher: Page Two Books

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2021

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  • New York Times Bestseller

POVERTY, BY AMERICA

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

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  • New York Times Bestseller

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

GOOD ECONOMICS FOR HARD TIMES

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

“Quality of life means more than just consumption”: Two MIT economists urge that a smarter, more politically aware economics be brought to bear on social issues.

It’s no secret, write Banerjee and Duflo (co-authors: Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way To Fight Global Poverty, 2011), that “we seem to have fallen on hard times.” Immigration, trade, inequality, and taxation problems present themselves daily, and they seem to be intractable. Economics can be put to use in figuring out these big-issue questions. Data can be adduced, for example, to answer the question of whether immigration tends to suppress wages. The answer: “There is no evidence low-skilled migration to rich countries drives wage and employment down for the natives.” In fact, it opens up opportunities for those natives by freeing them to look for better work. The problem becomes thornier when it comes to the matter of free trade; as the authors observe, “left-behind people live in left-behind places,” which explains why regional poverty descended on Appalachia when so many manufacturing jobs left for China in the age of globalism, leaving behind not just left-behind people but also people ripe for exploitation by nationalist politicians. The authors add, interestingly, that the same thing occurred in parts of Germany, Spain, and Norway that fell victim to the “China shock.” In what they call a “slightly technical aside,” they build a case for addressing trade issues not with trade wars but with consumption taxes: “It makes no sense to ask agricultural workers to lose their jobs just so steelworkers can keep theirs, which is what tariffs accomplish.” Policymakers might want to consider such counsel, especially when it is coupled with the observation that free trade benefits workers in poor countries but punishes workers in rich ones.

Occasionally wonky but overall a good case for how the dismal science can make the world less—well, dismal.

Pub Date: Nov. 12, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-61039-950-0

Page Count: 432

Publisher: PublicAffairs

Review Posted Online: Aug. 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2019

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