This went out at the end of 2006 and deserves extra mention here. Good to see my vote counted, though sadly my nominees didn’t make it this year. Oh well, better luck in 2008.
Stockholm, Seal Beach, Calif. and Wellington, December 21 (JY&A Media) The Medinge Group, an international think-tank on branding and business, today releases its fourth annual Brands with a Conscience list. In the Group’s opinion, these nine diverse organizations show that it is possible for brands to succeed as they contribute to the betterment of the society by sustainable, socially responsible and humanistic behaviour.
The international collective of brand practitioners meets annually in August at a secluded location outside Stockholm, Sweden, and collaborate on the list, judging nominees on principles of humanity and ethics, rather than ﬁnancial worth. The Brands with a Conscience list is evaluated on criteria, including evidence of the human implications of the brand and considering the question of whether the brand takes risks in line with its beliefs. Evaluations are made based on reputation, self-representation, history, direct experience, contacts with individuals within the organizations, media and analysts and an assessment of the expressed values of sustainability.
This year, the group added a unique category commendation, the Colin Morley Award, recognizing exceptional achievement by an NGO. Mr Morley, a member of the Medinge Group, died in the London Underground bombings in July 2005. The award commemorates his visionary work in humanistic branding.
For 2007, the group has singled out the following organizations:
Virgin Group/Virgin Fuels
The ﬁrst Colin Morley Award for a non-governmental organization is given to Shakespeare's Globe.
Announcing the 2007 Brands with a Conscience, Stanley Moss, CEO of the Medinge Group and chairman of the initiative, called them ‘evidence of the increasing embrace of humanistic branding as a critical component of corporate behaviour. The list shows that today we are seeing successful brands demonstrate deeper ethical understanding, commitment to sustainability and greater brand complexity.’
‘By deﬁnition, all NGO-brands should be brands with conscience,’ remarked Thomas Gad, Chairman of the Medinge Group. ‘This year we innovate an award which supports the importance of branding them. The ﬁrst Colin Morley Award is given to Shakespeare’s Globe of London, and honours a cultural project as a brand of conscience. The commercial awards this year show a good mix of large organizations and smaller entrepreneurs. We favour the idea that brand conscience is not exclusively for enthusiastic smaller companies. It is equally important for large organizations—and for those possibly much more difﬁcult.’
Nicholas Ind, a founding member of the group, said, ‘This has been the year that the corporate world really discovered the imperative of action on the environment. We have recognized this in our choice of Brands with a Conscience. Among this year's winners there are some powerful examples of what can be achieved when a genuine commitment is made to sustainability.’
‘Brands with a Conscience has regularly shown that it is possible to achieve international recognition while living one's most heartfelt aims,’ said Jack Yan, a founder and Director of the Medinge Group. ‘This year's winners may be a mixed bag in terms of their industries, but share a joint vision to make their part on the planet a better, happier one.’
Ian Ryder, a founding member and Director of the Medinge Group, commented, ‘The Brands with a Conscience awards have truly come of age this year. The range and quality of entries was high and the judging was hard, but any one of this year’s winning organizations, large or small, demonstrates that active, “conscience-driven” brand management helps customers, partners, communities and the world at large. Signiﬁcantly, they help in the essential act of achieving commercial success. Well done, and thanks, to all the nominees for trying, and to the winners for being just that little bit better.’
Patrick Harris, a Director of the Medinge Group added, ‘As the ﬁrst recipient of the Colin Morley Award, Shakespeare’s Globe is well positioned as a humanity-focused organization and as a leading brand. Through its efforts of studying Shakespeare in performance, it encourages individuals to ﬁnd personal relevance, and to realize the effects of a timeless commentator on the human condition.’
The winners in detail
A local brewer in Suffolk, England, Adnams is recipient of the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Sustainable Development, and regularly features in the UK list of top 50 places to work. In October 2006, it unveiled the UK’s greenest warehouse, the ﬁrst commercial building built from sustainable hemp blocks, with the UK’s largest sedum roof, drawing 80 per cent of its hot water needs from solar panels. An energy-efﬁcient brew house is slated for completion in March 2007. Adnams has been brewing in Suffolk since 1872, today employs 280, has a charity arm, and focuses on sustainability because it wants to.
Ecover is the world’s largest producer of ecological detergents and cleansing products, a pioneering, innovative company founded in 1980 in Belgium. Their progressive environmental and social policy is at the heart of their business success. In their vision statement they say: ‘Ecover is a company that strives to optimize economic value. We regard the environment as an inseparable part of the economy … job performance as a means to foster the social well-being and personal development of its direct and indirect employees.’ The Medinge Group also recognizes Ecover’s visual identity which combines a strong brand mark with appropriate environmental signals like transparent packaging.
The sixth-largest seller of prize-winning premium wines in the US—and the largest grower of organic grapes in northern California, committed to going all-organic by 2010. Fetzer uses nothing but renewable power and water treated without chlorine; has reduced its waste by 94 per cent since 1990; earns Salmon-Safe and Fish-Friendly certiﬁcates for its vineyard practices; is a charter member of Climate Leaders, an industry-government partnership; and has helped influence its parent company, Brown-Forman, towards sustainable business practices.
An established South Africa-based sustainability business whose products have wide-reaching positive ramiﬁcations. Freeplay’s vanguard appliance solutions for portable energy enable rural communities to deploy otherwise inaccessible basic technologies.
Highly ambitious and detailed work is being done by this huge concern with some 150 retail stores around the globe. Especially interesting is IKEA’s ﬁrm stance against corruption, perhaps the most serious obstacle for a better world in developing countries. In Russia an invited group of 350 VIPs, including the Swedish ambassador, returned home after IKEA refused to pay bribes to the local government needed to obtain the permit to open a new Moscow store, an incident later reported in The Financial Times. The Medinge Group further acknowledges IKEA’s extensive programmes for ecology and social responsibility.
A brand which demonstrates the power of collective action and a simple idea that everyone can get. It’s a business model (not a charity) that works for both people and business, and for the image of ubiquitous founder Bono. As their manifesto says: ‘If you buy a Red product or service, at no cost to you a Red company will give some of its profit to buy and distribute anti-retroviral medicine to people dying of Aids in Africa.’ A modern, inclusive brand, Red has a distinctive and attractive identity that is shared by like-minded brands. It’s a brand that partners personalize and promote on their own sites. And it is a brand where you can easily see the results of your actions. As MySpace, one its sponsors says, ‘Collectively, we can do good in a big way’.
Virgin Group/Virgin Fuels
On September 10, 2006, Virgin Group announced that they will apportion 100 per cent of all of their transport-related proﬁts over the next three years into a new enterprise called Virgin Fuels. This equates to approximately $400 million in renewable initiatives over three years. Virgin Group and Richard Branson have the brand strength, voice and financial muscle to make a massive difference in this high polluting and otherwise lethargic sector. Virgin Group and its companies already have an enormously healthy and well-recognized position as an innovative, exciting employer with a humane focus on its staff and customers. Virgin Fuels has taken a thought-leading position that only a handful of organizations can occupy.
Among its many laudable initiatives, the world’s largest retailer of natural and organic foods recently committed to ongoing contractual relationships with local farmers to help supply each of its stores, thus truly supporting sustainable (and energy- or transport-efficient) agriculture.
The Colin Morley Award for excellence by an NGO: Shakespeare’s Globe
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