Sustainability branding. Environmental awareness. Eco-consciousness. “Going green.”
The market sure does!
Yes, the latest buzzword in business is sustainability… And a related smart branding strategy encompasses environmental, economic and social qualities. But these terms are just starting points… More and more businesses are creating smart sustainability brands coupled with sustainable strategies.
Smart sustainability branding is not being embraced solely from a desire to help the environment and score brownie points on a national (or local level)… Rather, it is key to economic survival into the future.
Recent data suggests that adopting a smart sustainability branding strategy will help companies capture market share. It will also help attract new customers, increase profitability, attain customer loyalty and build brand recognition.
How’s that for some buzz?
The Battle For Sustainability
In today’s rapidly changing technological climate, competitive companies are switching the battlefield from price and service to the question of who is more socially responsible.
Just last week, Coca Cola and Pepsi both stopped doing business with the plastics lobbies in Washington, D.C. They both stated that the goals of the lobby were at odds with their long-term vision of recyclable materials.
Tesla’s entire business model is predicated upon providing electric vehicles. It’s all in the name of reducing greenhouse gasses and harmful emissions. Lo and behold, the established traditional car companies have decided to follow suit.
Companies are also coupling their brands with social and environmental causes.
So, where is all this pressure coming from? Did corporations suddenly decide to make saving the planet the number one item on their business plans? Or are they driven by the same factors as always: market share and profitability?
The driving factors are both regulatory and, of course, profit driven.
Government Is Driving Some Of The Change
There is no doubt that governments around the world are taking sustainability efforts into their own hands. In the past few decades, we have changed how we dispose of waste, recycle, build machines, farm and filter our water. Alaskan salmon and crab fishing regulations are one example of effort toward sustaining our natural resources. Emissions regulations… Subsidies for renewables and energy efficiency… The banning of plastic bags and straws… The list goes on and on.
But there are also economic changes driving sustainability efforts. States around the U.S. are engaging in revitalization and economic development plans for cities… And people are starting deeper conversations about fair wages and healthcare.
Starbucks takes pride in letting customers know that their employees are offered healthcare, 401(k) benefits and tuition assistance. The message is clear: They are being socially responsible to their workers.
Profitability May Be The Reason For Sustainability
Sustainability efforts require money (i.e. recycling costs, manufacturing costs, packaging)… And corporations have a duty of loyalty to their shareholders. Profitability is always the driving factor.
However, today more than ever, corporations are not engaging in sustainability efforts solely because of government regulations or out of a social conscious. There is a huge economic incentive… And it is called…
Don’t just take our word for it. Nielsen says so, too…
The Sustainable Market Is Here To Stay
Neilsen deemed 2018 the year of the “sustainable shopper.” Sustainability is driving the market. And it’s not business as usual:
“In 2018, Nielsen reports, sustainable product sales have grown 20% since 2014. At the same time, conventional product sales have dropped.”
The numbers go on…
In sustainable food, 75% of millennials are making purchases with the environment in mind, compared to just 34% of baby boomers. Neilsen also points out that millennials are likely to pay more for sustainable products, organic products or socially responsible products.
If sustainability is a factor in their purchasing habits, it does no good to hide your sustainability efforts in a drop-down menu. Remember how important your landing page is?
Creating A Sustainability Brand Or Rebranding Effort
The key to smart sustainability branding is executing a strategy that uniquely identifies your brand… and also helps a customer feel good about purchasing your product or services.
Don’t just have a great tasting craft beer or other beverage. Develop one that is giving back to the community, locally sourced and connected with a charitable organization. A trifecta!
Smart sustainability branding isn’t just coming up with a few key words such as “environmentally safe,” “recyclable” or “100% renewable” and including them on a website. Today’s consumer requires more than just lip service. A sustainability branding plan includes authenticity, action and results.
Authenticity requires that you remain true to your brand’s message. If you are “100% green,” then stay that way.
Action requires you to do something. Write a blog, speak to a group, comment on social media, donate or participate in a sustainable cause.
Results means your company’s efforts have made a measurable difference… Such as the amount of money you donated over the years. Or the number of bottles or pounds of material have you recycled. And how many dolphins have you saved?
Every Business Can Create A Sustainable Brand
Products like Tesla, Patagonia and Impossible Burger (the vegan burger that “bleeds”) do not own the sustainability marketplace. Burgers, snacks, sodas, b2b businesses, pharmaceutical companies and ice cream products are all engaging in sustainability branding. You do not have to develop “100% recycled socks” to have a sustainable brand. It is not about the products or services you offer, but instead the efforts of your company.
Every business can and should be developing a smart sustainability brand. Millennials are waiting…
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