Sustainability branding is a comparatively new term in branding. In simple terms, sustainability branding is defined as adding social, environmental and economical values to a product, service or business. Most companies usually focus on environmental values as it is easy to do, measure and demonstrate (to customers) from a business point of view. However, strictly speaking, focusing on just environmental values is called green branding which is ideally a sub-section of sustainability branding.
Though more companies usually prefer to utilize environmental sustainability (rather than sustainability branding as a whole) as their core concern, it is nevertheless a good start. Environmental sustainability can be indirectly and dilutely linked to economic and social values too (through creative marketing). If it comes from one’s consciousness, then anyways assembling the three dimensions of sustainability branding would be natural. However, the reality is that most of the time, such initiatives are adopted either under government pressure (laws, policies) or due to competition from another company that is utilizing it to gain a competitive edge in business or service.
Returns From Sustainability Branding
Though adopting SB (sustainability branding) must not be a profit-oriented approach, the element of profit-loss is obvious to occur as the company or business will have to devote time, money and efforts to it. Also, deciding how much attention and budget allocation must be made towards it is dependent on what a company/business expects from it. So let us talk about some facts, ideas and figures about consumer behavior and response for sustainability branding.
1. As per the Nielsen report, 66% of people (globally) are willing to pay more for sustainable initiatives.
2. 81% of Millennials want companies to adopt corporate citizenship.
3. 73% of global consumers are willing to change their consumption habits to decrease the negative impact on the environment.
Example of Some Famous Companies Supporting the Cause
The website of Pepsico provides information on its initiatives to reduce the negative impact on the environment. It has laid out information related to solid waste management, conserving global water supplies, eliminating plastic packaging, etc.
Visa’s offices and data centers are powered up with 100% renewable energy. It has been taking other initiatives as well like the pledge to reach net-zero emissions by 2040. It has achieved carbon neutrality in the year 2020.
Above 70% workplaces of Adobe are LEED certified. It was ranked the greenest IT company in the world in 2014. It also has plans to reach zero net energy consumption.
50% of the wood supplies of IKEA are sourced from sustainable foresters. All (100%) of its cotton comes from farms that comply with the Better Cotton standards. Their stores utilize 700,000 solar panels.
Benefits of Sustainability Branding (SB)
Let us see what benefits your business or company can gain with SB
1. Competitive Edge
From a business perspective, getting a competitive edge is necessary to be in the game. Companies that are late to adopt sustainability branding will have chances of getting their business share cut by their competitors that are active in adopting it.
2. More Marketing Potential
Consumers need regular engagement to associate with a brand. If your marketing material is just filled with the same kind of promotion techniques that insists on features, low price, fast service, then it won’t get much attention. If you can creatively and regularly insert social and environmental causes in your product or service, then it will open up many more dimensions for marketing and much higher chances of getting engagement on social media.
Many big investment firms are increasingly becoming aware of social, economic and environmental concerns. By adapting SB, you score additional points when they consider investing in your business.
4. Media Attention
While it is a good strategy to regularly issue press releases to announce new things in your company or business, editors and journalists do not pay much attention to it unless it contains something of value to them. By taking some steps regularly for SB, your business or company can not only get more chances to issue press releases (and to get constant attention) but also good chances to get coverage on big news portals and websites related to your industry.
5. Positive Effect on Workforce
With the formal routine of getting targets completed and job-related stress, the workforce of a company may not feel the connection that a company expects from its employees. A company can make the employees feel much more connected to it if the employees get a feeling that the company is not just for profit. By being active in social and moral responsibilities, employees can feel proud to be associated with a brand that goes beyond monetary aims.
6. Case Study Factor
As we have put examples of some top known brands and their efforts to sustainable branding, your company or business too can become a case study for good corporate and sustainable responsibility if it takes creative efforts in this area. It indirectly adds to recognition, sales and brand value.
7. Upper Hand on Projects
If your company or business wants to gain an edge in winning projects or getting big clients, then your sustainability efforts can be showcased for an added advantage.
8. Good Karma 🙂
Finally, if you believe in karma, then you may get heavenly benefits too 🙂
Strategy to Find Good Ideas for Sustainable Branding
Though one can randomly think of many methods to add sustainable branding to their product, business or service, having some strategy is better to come up with the best sustainability branding methods. So here are some of the strategies to get started
1. Ask Your Customer
Come up with a set of ideas that you think would be preferred by your customers. Next, make it into a questionnaire form and ask it through your social media channels and website. Incentivize them to participate in exchange of rewards, coupons, etc. Collect the response and proceed accordingly.
2. Utilize Subscribers
If you have a list of e-mail subscribers, shoot them an email and refer them to a landing page where they can make their choices or can provide new recommendations. If you don’t have a subscriber list, then use subscribers of other list builders (paid) who have a similar audience relevant to your business or service. Again you can incentivize people to participate (by using some offers).
3. Learn from Competitors
Check out all the small and big competitors in your industry and see if they have implemented any such strategy and what were the results. If there are none, then see closely related businesses and services and learn from them.
4. Ask in Forums and Groups
Join a forum related to your business and ask the forum members what they think is a good choice for implementing sustainable branding. Similarly, you can utilize the same method with Facebook groups too. You can join a related Facebook group and can ask the group moderator (paid method) to send out a custom message/announcement to get answers.
Strategy to Implement Sustainable Branding
There are many methods given below that you can utilize to implement sustainability branding. Though some of these may not be applicable depending upon your business or service, it will give a good set of ideas to get started
There are many certifying bodies in different fields that can provide certification to your business or service. Be it using renewable energy, using quality raw materials, having zero plastic usage, child safety, skin-friendly, etc. you can find some or the other authority that can certify your company/business and you can instead showcase it on your packaging, website, social media, press releases, etc.
2. PR Announcement
If you want to slowly reduce consumption of some factors like energy, paper, carbon emission, etc, you can set a dateline and issue a press release for getting the announcement out in the public. You can periodically issue press releases to update your progress in this field.
3. Tie-Up with Source
You can tie up with some other company that can handle your efforts in adopting sustainability branding. For example, you can use the service of some company/business that can source you organic and local raw materials and can then incorporate this partnership as your effort towards sustainability branding.
You can label your products from eco-friendly material and can also showcase this on your label.
You can hire influencers (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube) to promote social awareness and environmental campaigns that are closely linked with your business or service.
You can pledge a percent of your profits from every product/service to a reputed organization that works towards environmental, social well-being.
7. Competitions and Scholarships
You can hold competitions in school, colleges and even within your company for social awareness campaigns and can reward with scholarships, grants and other perks. Further, you can utilize press releases for the announcement and completion of such activities to gain public attention.