Creating A Sustainable Brand
It is clear that we no longer have the luxury of ignoring sustainable practices and climate change solutions. Trends show that consumers no longer have the patience for brands that are not focused on ethical business practices. Even governments around the world, albeit slowly, are recognizing the importance of responsible business practices that, at the very least, do not harm the environment. The UK has recently declared an emergency over the effects of climate change, and is putting pressure on businesses to create models that are entirely sustainable with a low to zero carbon footprint.
Unfortunately, most brands see environmental sustainability as not much beyond an opportunity to market to and retain the younger consumer audience. As a value-add feature, it comes as no surprise to anyone that these measures are mere tokens. Clothing giant H&M, under much public pressure, has started several sustainable initiatives. They offer to recycle any old garment for which customers get a discount coupon at the store, and they have a new eco-friendly line of clothing. But the real trouble often lies with the actual business models of certain brands where they use non-biodegradable materials to create clothes or other relevant products that are manufactured in countries with poor environmental laws.
Millennials and Gen Zs now have the tools and information to spread the word about a brand’s sustainability, and they have the knack to pick on whether a brand is intrinsically sustainable or if they are using it as just a buzz word. Building a brand that is sustainable on all levels is now a requirement if you want to create an appositive image with the public.
How to build a sustainable brand
Building a sustainable brand requires a different approach than regular businesses. Planning is the only way to ensure a smooth transition. If you are starting from scratch, the planning process is vitally important to have effective measures in place.
What you offer
An important guiding light in your future business proceedings is understanding and acknowledging why your brand is aligned towards sustainable practices. Knowing how your brand fits into the space of sustainability and what your brand offers is imperative to creating a coherent ideology. Once you have figured out exactly why your brand is sustainable, you can use this knowledge as leverage when appealing to investors and customers.
Working with customers
Keep a keen ear to the ground and listen to what your customers are thinking about. Addressing their concerns is a smart way to induce brand loyalty and increase engagement. For example, a coffee shop might find that customers care about ethically sourced coffee beans. Striving for this goal should be shared with the customers. For this step, it is important to know whom you are selling to. Once you have identified your target audience, head over to the spaces they occupy to find what they are concerned with.
Identify key areas
Find a few areas that are key to your business and create strategies to make these fully sustainable. Going with the same example, the coffee shop owner can identify procurement and waste disposal as important areas that will benefit most from being sustainable. A step further would be to make all the shops under the brand designed to have a zero-carbon footprint.
Use your creative energies to come up with authentic marketing strategies that will communicate your mission statement and environmental sustainability projects in the best way with your audience. Your target audience will have their own way of consuming content, and you must reach out to them on those platforms.
Have the right analytics in place to see how your strategy is working. Pay attention to the data and fine-tune your practices as the strategy moves along. Make room in your planning to allow for results and its influence. Even simple changes like using a different image can make a big impact on the results.
Why do you need a sustainable brand identity?
Listed below are a couple of reasons that help establish the need for a sustainable brand identity.
The younger generation is willing to pay a premium price for a sustainable option or alternative. According to Nielsen, the demand for ethical services and products has grown by a whopping 40 billion pounds in the past decade. Choosing to go sustainable opens up certain sections of the market that you might have previously overlooked.
The writing on the wall
Any brand that ignores meaningful sustainability is looking at a future that will be shunned by the extremely aware Millennials and GenZs. With hyper-capitalism fatigue setting in, the consumer is looking for brands and businesses that are worth their money. For these individuals, sustainable practices that do not harm the environment is a worthy cause.
There is a common misconception that sustainability is the concern of established economies. Consumers in growing economies like China and India are demanding more sustainable products and are seen to pick the sustainable option when given a choice. If you are serious about expanding your business into emerging economies, then a switch to sustainability is a must.
Some dos and don’ts
Here are some of the dos and don’ts of creating a sustainable brand strategy.
- Integrate sustainability with your brand: If you are serious about making your brand sustainable rather than have it as a value add-on, then environmentally sustainable work practices need to permeate your business and culture at every step. A purpose-driven mission statement gives your employees and customers something to rally around.
- Educate: Do not fall into the trap of championing your efforts constantly. There is only so much marketing and self-promotion that your audience can take. Instead, pepper your content with educational information about sustainability. The cause has many layers and nuances and a clear voice reaching out to consumers will stand out.
- Make your own targets: Instead of following another business’s path to sustainability, it is important that you focus on creating and meeting your development goals. You know your business and company best and hence are in the best position to map out a path that works efficiently for your brand. Be sure to check if you are meeting your sustainable goals regularly.
- Pick the right partners: While you might be certain that your company has sustainable environmental practices in place that are followed, you can undermine all your hard work by picking partners who are not sustainable. Do your research and make sure that you partner with green suppliers.
- Greenwash: Do not oversell your green initiatives and do not create a false narrative around them.
- Undersell: Celebrate your sustainable practices and achievements with your customers. It is better to appear as a green advocate than as a brand that does not care about sustainability.
- Alienate your customers: Involve your customers in your green initiatives. If you have a sustainable model to dispose of certain types of waste, then invite your customers to partake by bringing in some of theirs.
- Go into debt: Take your sustainable journey slowly and with simple steps. The aim of sustainable development cannot eclipse your business.
Creating a sustainable practice is the need of the day. With the impacts of climate change becoming more drastic, a green brand is beneficial to both the environment and the brand. There are many companies that offer sustainable products and services. EcoMatcher offers brands the ability to integrate tree planting into their business practices. Going green can be easy and rewarding if the right steps are taken at the right time to reduce the impacts of environmental change.