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Think-tank Announces Top Brands with a Conscience

For immediate release JY&A Consulting

International think-tank announces ‘Top Brands with a Conscience’

Think-tank has Kiwi connection; list coincides with UK publication of Beyond Branding

Portland, Or., Wellington, New Zealand and London, November 10 (JY&A Media) The Medinge Group, a high-level international think-tank on branding and business, releases its first annual ‘Top Brands With a Conscience’ list. Announcement of the list coincides with the launch of the new book Beyond Branding: How the New Values of Transparency and Integrity Are Changing the World of Brands (London: Kogan Page, 2003), which contains essays by 14

Medinge Group members.

The Medinge Group, an international collective of brand experts who meet annually in August at a secluded location outside Stockholm, Sweden, collaborated on the list based around principles of humanity and ethics, rather than financial worth. Evaluating on criteria including evidence of an ethical programme, the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs, the group singled out the following companies for recognition.

* CaféDirect (www.cafedirect.co.uk): one of the best known Fair Trade coffee retailers.

* Infosys (www.infosys.com): headquartered in Bangalore, India, Infosys has a commitment to egalitarian, cross-border relations—even an on-site meditation room.

* Innocent (www.innocentdrinks.co.uk): this UK company is committed not only to producing fresh drinks, but recycling and an open dialogue with Fair Trade groups.

* Kiehl’s (www.kiehls.com): since 1851, Kiehl’s, based in New York City, has focused on the finest ingredients for skincare, does not advertise and is a constant supporter of philanthropic ventures, including Aids benefits.

* Max Havelaar (www.maxhavelaar.nl): Max Havelaar, a Dutch coffee trader, is committed to Fair Trade and sustainable production. Consumers and retailers pay to cover social and environmental costs.

* Natures & Découvertes (www.natureetdecouvertes.com): French company sells giftware but has a strong environmental focus, providing regular information on protecting nature.

* Patagonia (www.patagonia.com): an American sports gear company, dedicated to the environment, so much so that its employees work with suppliers on finding solutions and it trains people in non-violent protests.

* Sanrio (www.sanrio.com): known for the Hello Kitty range of merchandise, the guiding principle behind this Japanese company, founded by Shintaro Tsuji, is expressed in compassionate interpersonal communication.

Announcing the list, Medinge Group member and Beyond Branding co-author, Jack Yan of Jack Yan & Associates in Wellington, said, ‘Even the most traditional companies tell us that brands are emotive. Yet the brand valuation lists continue to measure only in financial terms. We set out to make a change.

‘As the most authoritative and global group on branding, we put our heads together on how to shape this list. Brands are not about how much money they can generate, but how much passion,’ Yan continued. ‘These brands tap in to our consciousness and our causes.’

Stanley Moss, another member of the Medinge Group, remarked the list is intended to demonstrate that brands can move in a positive direction. ‘In the past, bottom-line driven practices promoted great distortions in the marketplace. We believe that brands with a conscience can lead us to a new paradigm of value.’

Mr Yan promises ongoing lists each year, the next following the Medinge Group meeting in Sweden in August 2004.

About the Medinge Group

The Medinge Group is a top-level think tank of brand professionals who meet annually to exchange ideas about theory, strategy and trends in international branding. The group meets in August at Medinge, Sweden and in January at an alternative European location.

The Medinge Group strives to influence businesses from inside—and outside—to become more human, and more humane. The group believes it possible to accelerate change across enterprises and societies by acting on principles of compassionate branding.

The Group’s web site can be found at www.medinge.org.

About Beyond Branding

Edited by branding consultant and leading author Nicholas Ind, Beyond Branding: How the New Values of Transparency and Integrity Are Changing the World of Brands is a collective viewpoint of the brand managers, consultants, writers and thinkers who assemble each summer in Medinge, Sweden to discuss the future of branding.

The anti-globalisation movement has developed into the scourge of governments and bodies such as the WTO. Naomi Klein´s No Logo book has garnered interest around the world. And most profoundly the succession of financial scandals has led many to question the standards of corporations. This has led to the perception among many that brands are manipulative and demeaning.

The authors’ position amidst all this questioning is that branding is neither inherently good or evil. This book aims to show that branding can benefit employees and customers and investors, but only if managers re-think their fundamental assumptions about brands and marketing. This is an humanistic approach that stresses the need to develop new standards for the way businesses are managed wherever they operate in the world.

The book was published by Kogan Page of London in late October 2003. The web site is at http://www.beyond-branding.com.

Notes to editors

The JY&A three-stroke logo is a trademark of Jack Yan & Associates and is subject to protection in certain jurisdictions. All trademarks are the properties of their respective owners and are used in a descriptive fashion without any intention to infringe.

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