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America: the Brand

Yesterday was Independence Day, the day we celebrate being able to pursue life, liberty and happiness. This day is just as much a reflection of what our forefathers sought for us as Thanksgiving is about giving thanks. We have a lot to be grateful for.

Can you travel to any state, move to any new apartment without registering with the government? Then you know what freedom means. Can you read the news without a government official approving what you read? Then you know what freedoms means. Can you choose your job, education level, and whom to marry? Then you know what freedom means. Today I want to present something you may not ever think about, and that is how America is perceived in the global market place.

In technical support we hear a lot of stories. We’ve been told that Shea butter is only used by poor people in Africa. What do the more wealthy use? American goods. We’ve been told that soaps and lotions made in (fill in this blank with nearly any country you can think of) are a lesser quality than what can be found in any supermarket across the US. We’ve been told that American products mean safety, free from adulteration, and quality. Think about that for a minute.

Safety for skin, safety for the environment, safety for economy all mean that we use known products that can be helpful to the body, don’t pollute our areas and/or misuse our supplies, and we make these things by providing jobs for many people.

Overall, I see Americans tend to downgrade ourselves more than anything. How often do we hear our neighbors, and ourselves, say something like “this is made in ____, where they really know ___”? We are self deprecating people. Why do we do this? No country has more than we do. We have knowledge, freedom, skill, and passion.

We, as Americans, enjoy a very high level of safety for all products found in our marketplace. Things that carry a Made in America label have a higher level of perceived safety as well as security knowing we are employing our family, friends and neighbors.

If you haven’t considered exporting your goods, consider it. Your state office covering business may have classes and seminars to help you learn how to export your company goods. If you haven’t considered the integrity of your final products, do. When we hear people ask us “Why can’t I use this additive at a higher rate than you recommend?” we respond with “You are free to do what you want, but using more is wasteful and harms the integrity of your product.” We should add ‘it harms the integrity of our collective brand: America.’

So who does this brand represent? All Americans, their companies and anything started/invented in America. This perceived integrity is automatically given because so many before us have been trustworthy people. But remember, trust is earned. If we, the collective brand called America, cease to be honest or have integrity then our brand will suffer, and it will be a brand issue that will take generations to repair.

Think of money scams and Nigeria. My mail, U.S. Postal Service delivered mail, brought a letter from Nigeria offering a scam. Today these are delivered by email, but still have the same message: a dishonest person skimmed an account and they want to convert it to US dollars and will pay us to help. Dishonest wants another dishonest and will pay for the assistance? What on Earth are the people thinking that accept these offers? Never associate with the enemy. Dishonesty is the enemy of all socialized people.

Think melamine tainted pet food and China. The problem of melamine or melamine compounds being added to pet food killed US pets in 2007. The US and Canadian companies involved do a lot more testing now to prevent any such contamination. In 2008 China dealt with 6 infants dying from melamine tainted infant formula. Two people were executed due to this problem, many others were imprisoned, fired or forced to resign. Today, China still deals with harm done to their brand. While we were there this last month we noticed the television commercials showing quality control measures printed on every can of infant formula. I don’t know enough Chinese to tell you the things this commercial said, but the pictures were worth a million words. The data stamp being a part of the infant formula commercial was enough to tell me that 4 years isn’t enough time to repair industry damage done by unscrupulous people. The upside to this sad story is that more mothers are bonding with their babies differently because more mothers are nursing their babies, and for longer periods of time as well, which may have greater impact on the character of the child in the future. Time will tell.

As you enjoy July fireworks, have a BBQ, join with family and friends, remember: Independence Day is a celebratory reminder that you are part of very special brand called America. It is a unique brand, treat it with care.

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