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Images from a colorful past

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Archives - June 2009
Monday, June 01, 2009
ATSTrademark3 Some products have fared better than others over Oregon’s 150 years of statehood. When was the last time you sat down to a nice, steaming cup of Dr. Henley’s Oregon Kidney Tea? Or reached for your trusty box of Red Dragon Squirrel and Gopher Poison?

There is no shortage of color and wit in the 250 expired trademarks that were recently unearthed by state archivists and made available for purchase and non-commercial use at arcweb.sos.state.or.us. These are the forebears of the Nike swoosh and the Rogue Dead Guy Ale bottle, and they offer a portal into Oregon’s rich heritage of brand-building. The trademarks on display range from Savier & Co.’s “Extra Superfine Flour” in 1864 to Portland Rose Mayonnaise from 1932. And while the companies that created these labels
ATSTrademark1
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Trademarks courtesy of
Oregon Secretary of State,
Archives Division
are no longer with us, they did not perish for lack of artistic vigor.

For example, check out the 35 different labels for canned salmon, intricately detailed if not always appetizing. One company even hedged its bets by offering Ulysses S. Grant fish for Yanks and Robert E. Lee fish for Rebs.

Another lively trademark is from the India Packing Company’s canned Sicily Lemonade, the contents of which “can be equal to two dozen Best Sicily Lemons.”

Other labels artfully promote champagne cider, “Orego” peaches and Oahu bitters, whatever they are. Sketches of pheasants and bears adorn wheat labels and salmon cans, and while it isn’t surprising that some of the products such as Dr. Henley’s Dandelion Tonic (“for rousing the torpid liver”) and Grey Loo Carpcide (“destroys all microbes”) were doomed to fail the Darwinian test of time, they really aren’t any sillier than diet pills and home air purifiers, are they?
BEN JACKLET
 

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Editor's Letter: Power Play

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There’s a fascinating article in the December issue of the Harvard Business Review about a profound power shift taking place in business and society. It’s a long read, but the gist revolves around the tension between “old power” and “new power” as a driver of transformation. Here’s an excerpt:

Old power works like a currency. It is held by few. Once gained, it is jealously guarded, and the powerful have a substantial store of it to spend. It is closed, inaccessible, and leader-driven. It downloads, and it captures.

New power operates differently, like a current. It is made by many. It is open, participatory, and peer-driven. It uploads, and it distributes. Like water or electricity, it’s most forceful when it surges. The goal with new power is not to hoard it but to channel it.

The authors, Henry Timms and Jeremy Heimans, don’t necessarily favor one form of power over another but merely outline how power is transitioning, and how companies can take advantage of these changes to strengthen their positions in the marketplace. 

Our Powerbook issue might be viewed as a case study in the new-power transition. This annual book of lists provides information on leading businesses, nonprofits and universities in the state. Most of the featured companies are entrenched power players now pursuing more flexible and less hierarchical approaches to doing business. Law firms, for example, are adopting new technologies and fee structures to make legal services more accessible and affordable.

This month we also take a look at a controversial new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rule requiring public companies to disclose the median pay of workers, as well as the ratio between CEO and median-worker pay. 

Part of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law, the rule will compel public companies to be more open about employee compensation, with the assumption that greater transparency will improve corporate performance and, perhaps, help address one of the major challenges of our time: income inequality.

New power is not only about strategy and tactics, the Harvard Business Review authors say. “The ultimate questions are ethical. The big question is whether new power can genuinely serve the common good and confront society’s most intractable problems.”

That sounds like a call to arms. Or a New Year’s resolution. Old power or new, the goals are the same: to be a force for positive change in the world. Happy 2015!

— Linda


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