Stick to fundamentals and not slogans

Redwood Comment
Published:  05 April, 2017
Mike Redwood

The first International Council of Tanners (ICT) meeting I ever attended was back in the 1970s in Buenos Aires, and the first time I was asked to speak at a meeting was in Hong Kong in 1994, when branding was fast evolving as a vital concept. At that event, I walked a very large and attentive audience through some branding essentials that have not changed to this day. Since there was no one present last week at APLF in Hong Kong who had been there in 1994 I could have given the same talk word-for-word, and it still would have been relevant. It was an honour to be invited back to the ICT meeting and to see it thriving under the current Chairman, Richard Pai.  

Cows are good for the planet

Instead, I chose to emphasise how the current major trends need to be harnessed to pro-actively drive leather into positive territory. We should not just passively adapt and adjust our way forward allowing others to batter our profitability. I argued that the leather brand stood on two core basics. The first is that cows are good for the planet. By cows I mean all livestock. They are integral to our future. Happy cows make better leather so good husbandry is vital. We do not support animal rights but do work for good animal welfare. Not just because we know it gives us hides without warbles, scratches and other damages but because it is right.

Leather is a sustainable material

Second, we believe that leather is a sustainable material. We do not have to pretend that we do not come from fossil fuels like plastics and many synthetic textiles: because we do not come from fossil fuels. Leather comes from a renewable natural resource and we give value to the farmer and add value to the material. In doing so we make leather that has and does provide millions of jobs, pulling people out of poverty and into craft based jobs that mostly will not be replaced by robots. Even more if we count repair. And lasting a long time along with being able to be repaired is the foundation of sustainability.

Some discussed with me after about these two being slogans, but they are not campaign slogans. They are the fundamentals upon which we run our tanneries. If we follow these two basics and think about them in all our management decisions, then everything will properly align and we can market our leather – brand leather – with confidence. Treat anything inappropriately - animals, employees, the environment - and we damage our brand. Simple really.

Mike Redwood

5th April 2017

Follow Mike Redwood on twitter: @michaelredwood

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