Does Sustainable Branding Work?
As a marketer, you know the importance of branding. A strong brand can make or break your business.
But what about sustainable branding?
Can you build a desirable brand if sustainability is at the core of your business?
It turns out you can!
In this article, we will give you tips and tricks you can use to build a lasting, sustainable brand.
But first, let us look at what sustainable branding actually means and how it can benefit your brand.
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What Is Sustainable Branding
Sustainable branding includes business efforts that deliver the benefits of sustainability to the target audience and the planet.
In other words.
Sustainable branding means that a company integrates sustainability into all aspects of its operations. This includes its products and services.
Sustainable brands address environmental, economic and social issues that impact the world we live in.
The way consumers buy products (and services) has changed. For some, price is no longer the most important factor in their purchasing decisions.
Instead, consumers are buying things from brands that stand for the things they believe in.
Why Sustainable Branding Matters
We said that the way consumers buy is changing. Consumers are connecting with brands that stand for the things they believe in.
Sustainability is one of those things.
A recent study shows that sustainability is an important purchase criterion for 60 percent of consumers. This is proof that consumers want to buy from sustainable brands.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to just sell sustainable products. Brands need to put sustainability at the heart of their business if they want to resonate with consumers.
What does that mean?
It means you need to integrate sustainability into your communications, your business processes, and your products.
It means that you should take a stand on things you believe in if you want to engage your target audience.
In this article, you’ll find simple tips and tricks you can use to make sustainability the core of your branding.
We will see how you can make sustainability your competitive advantage.
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Greenwashing describes unethical advertising or marketing claims about a company’s positive impact on the environment.
Here is the truth.
Companies know that consumers want to buy sustainable products. So they look for shortcuts that allow them to label their products (or services) as green and sustainable.
That’s why putting the eco-label on your product does not do much good in the eyes of consumers.
What consumers are looking for instead are brands that live and breathe sustainability.
In other words.
A PR story about how your company is moving to zero waste will do more for you than an eco-label on your products.
This tip ties to avoiding greenwashing, which we have already mentioned.
Sustainable brands that people follow are transparent and value their integrity. No matter what shady marketers believe, the truth is that consumers sense when you use unethical marketing claims.
On the other hand, it also shows if you are transparent and ethical. Consumers can sense that.
How can you be transparent?
You can start by sharing where you source your materials and products. Show what the factories look like. Explain how workers are treated in your partner companies.
You can also disclose your finances. Nothing is more transparent than showing how much you make on each product you sell.
Think of other ways you can be transparent and authentic to your audience and implement them in your business.
Did You Know?A whopping 88 percent of consumers say authenticity is an important factor in deciding which brands they like and support. This shows that transparency and authenticity pay off.
More Than Profits
The purpose of a traditional business is to make a profit. It’s why most businesses exist. To sell products or services and make money.
But, that’s not the case for sustainable businesses.
Sustainable brands put their purpose first. The profit comes second. A sustainable brand has a vision that’s bigger than the profits. Sustainable brands want to have a lasting impact on the people and the environment.
A good example of a sustainable brand is Patagonia. The owner, Yvon Chouinard, decided to give all the company’s profits into saving the planet.
This is a clear example of a brand with a clear purpose that’s more important than profits.
We’re not saying you should give away your money.
On the contrary!
We believe there’s nothing wrong with sustainable brands that make money. But, it is important that you ensure you’re not taking advantage of people or the environment in the process.
It’s one thing to preach sustainability. But if you really want to put sustainability at the core of your brand, you have to live sustainably.
Here’s what we mean.
Sustainable branding is more than an earthy green logo. You have to show that sustainability is something you value. That means you have to insert sustainability into your daily operations.
You can try the following actions:
- Make sure you recycle all the waste you produce,
- Go zero-waste in your office and production facilities,
- Install solar panels,
- Build sustainable and eco-friendly office buildings,
- Install a green roof.
There are other things you can try. We just wanted to provide you with a few ideas to explore.
Remember, people will connect with you when they see you living what you preach.
Clean Your Supply Chain
We talked about sustainable operations in the previous step. Now we go one step further.
Make sure you source your materials from sustainable suppliers. Determine that you are working with factories that value their employees and incorporate sustainable practices into their processes.
The more your business grows, the bigger your supply chain becomes. That’s why it’s important to start monitoring your supply chain as soon as you start.
Your supply chain is sustainable. Great. Now what?
You can now claim that you really are a sustainable brand. You can mention it on your website. You can make it clear on the packaging of your products.
You can take it even further.
You can organize a PR campaign describing your product’s journey before it hits the shelves. You can take readers on the journey through the entire supply chain.
Be proud of what you have achieved and share it with the world.
Examples of Successful Sustainable Brands
Now that we have learned the tips and tricks for building a sustainable brand, let us take a closer look at some of the brands that have succeeded with sustainable branding.
We will analyze what makes them successful, and we will try to discover things you can copy with your brand.
Are you ready?
Then let us get started.
How do you stand out in the meat market? By selling meat that does not contain meat. Beyond Meat is not the first alternative meat on the market.
But it is the first brand that has decided to compete with beef burgers on meat shelves, rather than dominate the alternative meat section of the supermarket.
Beyond Meat’s packaging highlights the positive impact their burgers have on the world. People feel good when they buy Beyond Meat because they know they are doing something positive.
Beyond Meat’s success shows that you do not have to reinvent the wheel. You just have to find a popular product that people are already using and make it sustainable.
Their corporate philosophy is “100% For the Planet”, and they show that they stand behind it in their day-to-day business.
Patagonia has repair centers around the world where they fix your damaged Patagonia clothes to make it last longer.
We have already mentioned the owner of the company, who has decided to invest all company profits in saving the planet.
Patagonia is a brand that lives what it preaches. Honesty, integrity and transparency are at the core of their business. They even go as far as to share what areas of their business they need to improve in order to become fully sustainable.
You can follow Patagonia’s lead by being 100% transparent with your customers.
On Running – Cyclon
On Running is a Swiss-based manufacturer of running shoes and running apparel that aims to become the first running company to make its products from 100% recycled materials.
The company is very transparent in its communication with its customers. It states the percentage of recycled materials it uses in its current product lines. They also share their vision and what they want to achieve.
However, they are breaking the norm with their subscription model called Cyclon. This is basically a subscription model for running shoes.
You subscribe and receive your 100% recycled running shoes, which you return when they wear out. They then send you a new pair of shoes and recycle the old ones.
Is there a way for you to start a recycling program that your customers can participate in?
A major international company is not the first brand you’d think of when you talk about sustainability. But at Starbucks, sustainability comes first.
It shows in their visual identity and in the way they communicate with their customers. The earthy tones are perhaps a bit too obvious. But sustainability doesn’t end there for Starbucks.
The company shares where it sources its ingredients and is happy to tell customers how much its ingredients reduce emissions.
This is a clear example of a brand that lives sustainably and is not afraid to brag about it.
We have learned that sustainability is important. It allows you to charge a higher price for your products. It also builds a lasting connection with your target audience.
We have presented tips and tricks you can use when building a sustainable brand. We also analyzed some of the most successful sustainable brands in the world and found out how you can emulate their success.
Are you ready to build the next great sustainable brand? You have all the tools and skills you need.