|#INTA15: an artist's impression ...|
All in all, the annual INTA Meeting is an impressive gathering. From the official INTA Meeting home page we learned that more than 9,820 trade mark folk have registered, from over 150 countries (the figure was later fine-tuned to 9,855). Admittedly there are more countries now when there were in 1986 -- when the organisation that was still known as the United States Trade Mark Association, before it rebranded and went global, attracted only around 1,500 registrants to the same city and some critics objected that the event had grown too big and had lost its distinctive character.
For many people the INTA week starts as early as the Friday before it, when exhibitors arrive and early registrants case the Convention Center and measure travel times (if you arrange meetings with clients and colleagues, it's imperative to know how much time it gets from address to address -- or even from one end of a crowded Convention Center to the other). Saturday now offers numerous meetings, as well as attractions which include the annual Gala Dinner. However, the official opening ceremony [really an Opening Ceremony: INTA does like initial capitals] doesn't take place till the Sunday afternoon.
|The basic message|
|Will the President be getting|
a new neighbour?
The President for 2015, J. Scott Evans (Adobe Systems Inc), then took the floor. He reminded the audience that INTA was first and foremost a community, that we should always keep the consumer in mind and that we should think broadly in terms of "brands" rather than narrowly in terms of "trade marks". Why? Because while the role of the brands in our lives remains constant, the role of the consumer has changed: consumers are online, connected and share their information -- and are more prepared to trust each other's judgement concerning products on the market than to accept the manufacturer's advertisements. Peer-to-peer information exchange now rivals product labelling as a means of communicating information, and this process is accelerated by the rise of Apps which enable consumers not merely to obtain product data but to compare competing products in terms of health, mode of manufacture, ethical corporate policies and the like,
Fortune 500 company Whole Foods Market [Whole Foods Market might sound a bit descriptive for a company that markets whole foods, but surely only a cynic would take such a churlish view. If you are selling whole foods, you don't want to run the risk of being associated with anything as contrived and non-wholesome as an artificially created and definitely non-organic brand name, would you? Incidentally, the company also appears to own a trade mark for the slogan "America's Healthiest Grocery Store", a slogan which, Merpel thinks, is plain descriptive if true and deceptive if false ...] Walter was an impassioned and persuasive advocate of his company's ethos, its concept of "conscious capitalism", the notion that companies can have purposes just as individuals can, and that the two key tenets of a brand that grows to embrace the needs of a growing company are those of authenticity and transparency. In this context, "Values are things you believe; they're stakes in the ground ... they're living things".
"Conscious capitalism", Walter explained, is based on four elements:
- the business must exist for a deeper purpose than merely that of making money: it should also exist for the purpose of reflecting its core values;
- a business should have a multiplicity of stakeholders, and should achieve a level of stakeholder integration [which this Kat takes to mean that its activities should be able to integrate what the respective stakeholders -- presumably consumers, suppliers, employees, shareholders and so on -- view as being in their best interests];
- conscious leadership to enable the business to grow and evolve;
- conscious culture.
|In some workplaces, hugging|
is more or less compulsory ...
This Kat is also aware that the Wikipedia entry for Whole Foods Market lists numerous criticisms and controversies that also make uncomfortable reading. It is inevitable that companies that espouse ethical values will attract more attention when their conduct falls short of their stated ideals than would be the case for companies that have no scruples at all, and this is no doubt something that any company that espouses the principles of conscious capitalism will want to bear in mind when monitoring its activities.