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NZ Story dusts off FernMark brand for exporters

NZ Story dusts off FernMark brand for exporters in new licensing regime

By Paul McBeth

Sept. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand Story, the government entity set up to help local firms market themselves to the rest of the world, will offer licenses to the FernMark brand for the first time in three years, giving exporters the right to buy a logo designed to project kiwi authenticity.

Ten companies are going through the application process to use the FernMark on their products, including ecostore, Zealong Tea, Metalform and a couple of food companies, and another 30 have indicated their interest in using the brand, NZ Story executive director Rebecca Smith told BusinessDesk. The licensing regime replaces a previous invitation system, which had been extended to between 100 and 200 companies. The invitations were stopped three years ago.

"It's completely about leveraging off the good reputation of the country," Smith said. Over the past three years, "the FernMark has been extensively used by government agencies offshore, including the likes of NZTE events, conferences and trade shows. It has been used through the UN Security Council, trade missions - so it's well-recognised in the offshore markets that we operate in as a national symbol."

NZ Story was launched in 2013 in response to growing demand for firms outside the tourism sector to better articulate the selling points of the country beyond the 100% Pure campaign. It was developed by New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Tourism New Zealand and Education New Zealand, and provides a variety of resources for firms to use when marketing themselves overseas.

The annual licence fee will be between $1,500 and $5,000 depending on the size of the firm, and applicants will need to meet certain criteria to demonstrate they are a New Zealand business, including the level of local ownership, directors, and employment. Firms that manufacture overseas will also be able to access the logo, with the regime catering to locally designed products as well.

Smith said the regime will be self-funding, and NZ Story wants to have between 70 and 100 companies using the FernMark in the first year.

The FernMark logo has been registered as a trademark in 14 countries, and designed with an "augmented reality" capability that lets customers verify its authenticity.

Smith said NZ Story has protected the trademark closely over the past three years, with a 100 percent success rate in issuing cease and desist orders to entities that have used the logo without authorisation over that period.

"It will not stop, people will always try to do that, so we have instigated underneath this a very vigorous watch, cease and desist programme, particularly across Asia markets to ensure that we're protecting that brand," she said.

Since the NZ Story initiative was launched, the response by local firms has been mixed, depending on the sector, and Smith cited the seafood industry as selling a consistent story as a number of firms rebrand into food businesses and away from fishing companies.

"What we're particularly interested with the NZ Story is helping businesses expand their story," Smith said. "It's moving up that chain and having a better, broader story consistently across the export community."


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