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INTA: Brand success stems from authenticity

Issued: May 04 2015

SAN DIEGO (MAY 3, 2015) – Trademark owners need to think about trademarks in a broader way, International Trademark Association president J Scott Evans, associate general counsel at Adobe Systems, told attendees in his remarks to open the association’s 2015 Annual Meeting here today.

 

“The role of the consumer and the role that the consumer plays in the development of a brand has changed,” Evans said. “Consumers are much more empowered in the digital age. They are always connected, and everything is social and everything is shareable.”

 

Evans said that while trademarks enable consumers to differentiate between brands, it is the brands’ attributes which actually drive purchasers’ decisions.

 

Citing a 2013 study by consulting firm BBMG, Evans told attendees that peer-to-peer communication and social media now rival consumer labelling and media reports about product claims. “So what do you think the top least-trusted method for getting information about branded claims is? Advertising. That’s right. Consumers aren’t listening to us. They’re on social media, talking to each other.”

 

Forward-thinking brands, Evans said, are tapping into peer-to-peer networks and social media to drive trust, and authenticity is winning the day. 

 

Walter Robb, co-CEO of Austin, Texas-based supermarket chain Whole Foods Market, said that authenticity is one of the driving forces behind his grocery business. “We lead with mission and purpose first, and brand follows. In the end, the brand comes from the core, and a brand is, ultimately, as good as the authenticity with which you’re pursuing the mission.” Robb was the Annual Meeting's keynote speaker.

 

Companies that succeed in the digital age take a holistic approach to trademarks in order to meet the needs of today’s internet-savvy, socially-conscious consumer, Evans said. How consumers interact with brands has evolved, and the role of the trademark practitioner has also evolved.

 

“In our role, we need to be thinking holistically about our brands,” he said. “We need to appreciate the active role consumers play in developing our brands. We need to be effective brand ambassadors.”


Robb said that it is important to remember that authenticity is not only important to a brand’s consumers. “It’s just as important internally as it is externally. The brand will only reach it’s true potential when it’s owned by everybody in the organization,” he said.