The Medinge Group, an international think-tank on branding and business, today releases its third annual Top Brands with a Conscience list. In the Group’s opinion, these nine brands 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. The
2006 list criteria was expanded to recognize brands now in positive transfor-
This year, the group singled out the following for recognition:
- ABN AMRO/Banco/Banco Real
First Mile Solutions
Interface Carpet/Interface Inc.
Slow Food Movement
Sovereign Global Investment
Announcing the 2006 Top Brands with a Conscience, Stanley Moss, a director of the Medinge Group and chairman of the initiative, remarked, ‘We of the Medinge Group are encouraged by the clear evolution of understanding that corporations today demonstrate. Humanistic behaviour and adoption of conscience-driven and socially responsible programmes are the key to success in the world of tomorrow.’
Nicholas Ind, a founding member of the group, said, ‘There’s a new maturity
in the choice of 2006 Brands with a Conscience. This year we acknowledge
more large corporate organizations on the list. It represents a recognition that
while such brands might not always be perfect, they are significantly changing
attitudes about their industries.’
‘The 2006 list indicates that it is possible for corporations to maintain their goal of producing shareholder returns, while helping the planet,’ said Jack Yan, a director of the Medinge Group. ‘The list also shows that there are plenty of companies operating on the cutting edge of developments, such as First Mile Solutions. Medinge will always peer into the near future, to show where business can head. All too often, those who lead by example don’t get properly exposed. We attempt to change that, while bringing the world closer together.’
Ian Ryder, a founding member of the Medinge Group, commented, ‘As more and more companies realize they have a duty to those with whom they share our world, the Brands with a Conscience awards are not only gaining strength of entry, but also honouring those companies that genuinely care and try to give something back. This year we honour both global corporations and niche, smaller enterprises that share a goal of sustainability with true “conscience”— they should be a role model for all.’
This year’s BWAC initiative is dedicated to memory of Medinge Group member Colin Morley, who died in the July 7, 2005 London subway bombings. Expanded descriptions and web links
ABN AMRO/Banco/Banco Real
The Dutch-based ABN AMRO is the 20th largest bank in the world. It has a
burgeoning commitment to sustainability and publishes a comprehensive
sustainability report on its activities each year. Importantly, it does not see
sustainability as an addition to its business, but rather as a central component,
so increasingly sustainable thinking is being integrated into core business
practices and into its decision-making. As a testament to this progress, the
bank was recognized as the most transparent organization in the Netherlands
this year. As well as the parent, two parts of the bank deserve special mention:
Banco, an ethical fund management company based in Stockholm, is an active
campaigner for ethical behaviour; and Banco Real, the Brazilian arm of the
bank, which is particularly strong in microfinance. Not only do these parts of
the bank deliver sustainability in their specific markets, they are an active force
for change within the bank as a whole.
BP was formed from a merger of a group of multinational oil companies.
Today BP does more than others in renewables and is more ahead in CSR than
their competitors. It thinks of itself more as a sustainable energy company
than a petroleum company today, and there is evidence that its tagline, ‘Be-
yond Petroleum’, is not mere lip service to the green movement. Positive
changes are being implemented at BP, which impressed the members of the
Dr Hauschka began as so many companies creating skin care products did.
A nurse mixed homoeopathic medicines into creams to help burns’ victims,
found that they worked remarkably well, and contacted WALA of Germany to
start the line. WALA has been involved in organic farming for decades, and an
entire community now works to produce the pure, hand-harvested ingredients
found in Dr Hauschka skin care products. All the products are homoeopathic and anthroposophical, and have been tested by Lucire and other media to be
the equal of or superior to “pharmaceutical” equivalents. Its corporate struc-
ture is that of a trust, which prevents directors from taking supernormal divi-
First Mile Solutions
The internet is the nervous system of our planet and the billions of people
who lack communications infrastructure do not see themselves as the “last
FMS regards last-mile problems as first-mile opportunities for both opera-
tors and end users. For under $1 per user, rural communities that have never
seen a newspaper can do things like email, browse the web, and have their
own voicemail box using FMS technology. FMS technology leverages major
trends that are rapidly driving costs down: WiFi and digital storage. FMS is
based in Cambridge, Mass., where research and development is performed by
management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Interface Carpet/Interface Inc.
Interface is a recognized leader in the commercial interiors market, offering
floor coverings and fabrics. The company is committed to the goal of
sustainability and doing business in ways that minimize the impact on the
environment while enhancing shareholder value. Interface was founded in
1973 by chairman Ray Anderson, considered to be a pioneer from the start,
being a trailblazer of the modular carpet industry in the United States. The
company promotes sustainable business practices—within its global commu-
nity and in the products it makes.
For Interface, sustainability is a belief that is built into the business model, an
underlying corporate value, ensuring that business decisions are weighed
against their potential impact on economic, natural and social systems. It is a
means for associates to deliver superior value to customers and shareholders.
Interface is a global company with manufacturing locations on four conti-
nents and offices in more than 100 countries.
Slow Food Movement
Started in Italy in 1986, this organization exists to promote the individuality of
gastronomic culture. It now has 83,000 members around the world. It runs
counter to everything that fast food stands for. It supports localized and re-
gional cuisine and produce, conserves agricultural biodiversity and protects
food quality. It aims at delivering quality rather than speed.
Sovereign Global Investment
Sovereign Global (formerly Sovereign Asset Management) is a privately
owned, independent investment organization which has been investing in the
international capital markets for over 20 years. Based in Dubai, Sovereign
focuses its activities on countries and companies that play a significant role in
the global economy. Sovereign believes that the critical keys are successful
allocation of capital assists in financing industry and government, creating employment, reducing poverty and providing opportunity for growth and
fulfillment. Sovereign seeks prosperity for all, by promoting effective capital
allocation and good corporate governance in the companies and countries in
which it invests.
The first commercially available and successful petrol–electric hybrid car
self-charges through the petrol engine, innovating leading-edge technologies.
Toyota is the clear front runner in mainstreaming of hybrid vehicles: the Prius
paves the way for the addition of the Toyota Highlander and Camry hybrids,
and has even licensed its technology to rivals.
Watabaran is a company in Nepal, emulating values of fair trade. They recycle
paper and produce hand-made Christmas cards, calendars and gifts for or-
ganisations and companies all over the world. Watabaran represents environ-
mental sustainability and good working practices and conditions. All employ-
ees are shareholders of the company and their salaries are well above local
History and upcoming plans
In 2002, the Medinge Group published a brand manifesto of eight statements
encapsulating a vision of healthy brands for the future. In 2003 the group
authored a collection of essays entitled Beyond Branding, which explored the
ways in which brands could add value within alternative business and social
models. In 2004, the group established the annual Brands with a Conscience
list. In addition to the ongoing BWAC initiative, in January 2005 the Medinge
Group launched an online, automated speakers’ and experts’ bureau, accessi-
ble through their web site at www.medinge.org.
This February, the Medinge Group will announce a Medinge Fellowship
programme, as a vehicle to encourage graduate level students working in the
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 often in Janu-
ary at an alternative European location.
The Medinge Group strives to influence businesses from inside—and out-
side—to become more human, and more humane. The group believes it possi-
ble to accelerate change across enterprises and societies by acting on princi-
ples of compassionate branding.
The Group’s web site can be found at www.medinge.org.
2006 BWAC Committee
Sicco van Gelder
Stanley Moss (chairman)
The Medinge Group www.medinge.org
Beyond Branding www.beyond-branding.com
Medinge Säteri www.medinge.com
The Medinge Group Fact Sheet
The Medinge Group Q&A
‘Top Brands with a Conscience’ Criteria
The Medinge Group Brand Manifesto
The Medinge Group Members’ Roster
For more information, speaker availability or other resources, contact:
Asia, Pacific, Australasia Jack Yan JY&A +64 4 387-3213
UK and Europe Johnnie Moore +44 20 7354-5578
USA Stanley Moss Diganzi +1 503 312-2592