Opening Ceremony: Brands as Drivers of Change

21-05-2018

Opening Ceremony: Brands as Drivers of Change

INTA’s Opening Ceremony was full of surprises, including fish throwing, origami, and INTA’s 2018 President Tish Berard rocking out on guitar to Nirvana.

“We operate in an increasingly connected, increasingly complex, and indeed, increasingly chaotic and disruptive, global economy,” said Tish Berard, INTA’s 2018 President, who made her entrance  as the bass guitarist in a grunge rock band, Jar Of Flies,  and playing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a  tribute to Seattle legends Nirvana.

She later explained that her unique entrance was intended to illustrate how “we—as brand professionals—can benefit from choosing to see things differently.” She also used a butterfly analogy throughout to emphasise this. 

“Just as traffic lights bring order to roads, trademarks and brands bring order to the marketplace,” she added. 

However, while brand value is increasing, brand equity (how consumers value brands) is threatened because the critical roles of trademarks and brands are being diminished in the marketplace. 

“This is happening because the role of trademarks, [other forms of] IP, and brands in society is by-and-large misunderstood. This is negatively impacting brand reputation and is fueling anti-IP sentiment,” added Ms. Berard. 

To combat this, INTA is taking a fresh perspective and looking at innovative ways that the Association, as a community, can address these challenges. 

INTA membership comprises around 31,000 brand professionals across 191 countries.

“Think about what we can accomplish, how we can bring about major changes to our industry, our brands, to the global economy, and to consumers everywhere, if we all choose to take action to make small changes,” she said. 

Ms. Berard added that the potential to effect the changes that we would like to see in our industry is within our hands. 

“However, I also believe that we will be far more effective in bringing about these changes if we choose to see things differently. This is how we can have a positive ‘butterfly effect,’” she stated, after fashioning an origami butterfly in record time.  

First, and perhaps most fundamentally, the IP community must view the profession differently.

“The world around us is evolving. Brands are evolving. How consumers are interacting with our brands has certainly evolved, and the role of the trademark practitioner has also evolved,” she explained. 

Ms. Berard’s second call to action was to demystify IP and help consumers to see that they can rely on and place trust in brands and that trademarks “provide the foundation upon which this trust is placed.”

Thirdly, she concluded that you can either see innovation and change as a glass half full or a glass half empty. 

“Yes, there is a disruptive effect. But there’s also an opportunity. Let’s choose to see the glass as half full,” said Ms. Berard, adding that by choosing to embrace innovation, IP professionals can “become drivers of change rather than products of it.”

Obsession, Trust, and Transformation

Ms. Berard’s exceptional entrance was followed by the introduction of Keynote Speaker Neil Lindsay, Vice President of Global Marketing, Prime & Engagement at Amazon.com, Inc. (USA), who was interviewed by his colleague and Annual Meeting Co-Chair, Dana Brown Northcott, Associate General Counsel at Amazon.com, Inc.

Brands are like storybook characters, he said, adding that bringing the brand story to life is all about “finding those moments where your effort is somewhat magical.” 

Mr. Lindsay added: “It can be a little, enabling moment of triumph. Amazon isn’t the hero, it’s the customers who are the everyday heroes.”

For a brand to be sustainable, its principles and values need to be consistent and long-lasting, he explained.

“But characters in a story need to be more interesting than just that,” he continued, adding that at its heart, the big brand is a “customer-obsessed” company. 

And being customer-obsessed means caring about every single customer experience, which involves a “lot of hard work, every day.” 

Trust and transformation are the company’s watchwords, and while Mr. Lindsay admitted that trust and transformation don’t always go together easily, Amazon.com, Inc. is trying to take its customers on an “adventure.” 

“When we first started out, we were asking people to put their credit card on the Internet. That’s a pretty scary thing,” he said.

At the core of the brand is an optimism about the future. 

“What gets us up in the morning is this idea that we are really trying to find the best future, together with brands, sellers, authors, employees and, most importantly, our customers.”

This year’s Annual Meeting Co-Chairs, Ms. Northcott and Axel Nordemann, a Partner at Boehmert & Boehmert (Germany), along with Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market resident fish throwers (yes, you read that correctly), welcomed registrants to Seattle.

“We have a busy week ahead. The agenda is designed to get you up to speed on emerging issues, trends, and legislation. We hope you’ll have a great Annual Meeting, full of opportunities and new ideas,” said Ms. Northcott. 

Thanking INTA’s Project Team, Mr. Nordemann noted that two years of planning had gone into the 300 educational sessions with more than 100 industry speakers, receptions, panels and networking events. 

Back in 2009, the last time the Annual Meeting was held in Seattle, there were 7,590 registrants. As of today, there are more than 10,900 registrants, announced INTA CEO Etienne Sanz de Acedo.

For three consecutive years there has been record attendance, meaning that IP and the Association are in “great shape,” he said. 

This year, the Annual Meeting has 2,674 first-timers, 1,250 corporate members, 175 officials, and almost 150 countries represented.

“On top of that, we’ll make a US $20 million contribution to the Seattle area over the next five days. We’re currently supporting more than 4,763 jobs in the area,” added Mr. Sanz de Acedo.

Mr Sanz de Acedo took audience members on a trip around the globe highlighting INTA’s major policy activities in Asia Pacific, China, India, Africa and the Middle East, Europe, and North America. 

“We’ve done a lot of things, but there are still a lot of challenges in front of us,” he stated, noting some of the main challenges as being further harmonization, stronger enforcement, and brand restrictions.

Mr. Sanz de Acedo continued: “In addition, we should never forget that this is not just about brand owners, it’s also about consumers.”

This means that consumer protection, innovation and change, the value of brands, and small and medium-sized enterprises and entrepreneurs are firmly on the Association’s agenda. l

INTA, INTA 2018, Tish Berard, Etienne Sanz de Acedo, innovation, Amazon, Neil Lindsay, disruption,

WIPR