My friend, Ida Cheinman, founder of Substance 151, is a leader in branding for sustainability. She graciously agreed to write a guest article for us. Enjoy!
“Green” marketing presents unique challenges – we live in a time when the word “sustainability” is topping the buzzword charts and a wave of greenwashing is flooding the mainstream. But we also live in a time when sustainability and social responsibility are the forces driving many buying decisions. While being a “green” business already creates a competitive advantage, simply being “green” is no longer enough. Marketers and business leaders are faced with the challenge of creating differentiation by developing an empowering and memorable brand experience for their audiences in the increasingly crowded sustainable marketplace.
Why is it important to talk about your responsible business practices?
People want to feel a connection to the companies they do business with and they want to feel good about their choices – environmental stewardship is an increasingly persuasive motivator. Based on existing market research, over 40% of buyers have a strong preference, and are willing to pay more, for products and services from companies that use socially and environmentally responsible business practices. This is a significant market share! Communicate wisely about your environmentally responsible business to ensure that it doesn’t go to your competitors.
Here are three rules to create a successful and sustainable market position:
Rule 1 – Authenticity: Aligning Promise with Practice
Your commitment to sustainability has to be authentic and come from within. It has to be a part of your mission, your business strategy, your operational process and your employee engagement programs. As consumers demand that companies address their environmental concerns, they’re also demanding higher levels of accountability and transparency – “walking the talk” matters more than ever before. Avoid being labeled a “greenwasher.” When your company communicates its environmental commitment through a consumer-facing brand story, make sure that its green promise has authentic proof behind it.
Success = complete integration of sustainability strategy and brand strategy, aligning external consumer promises with internal company practices.
Rule 2 – Commitment to Quality
While environmentally conscious consumers represent a significant market share, for a company to achieve maximum success in the marketplace and create an opportunity to stay competitive through the economic downturn and into the future, its offerings have to be not only greener but also perceived as better.
A company is not the sole owner of its brand. It shares this ownership with its customers, partners, vendors and other stakeholders – all engaged in shaping the brand’s perception in the marketplace.
Success = creating opportunities for continued improvement of what your company offers and your ability to successfully communicate the benefits of your products and services.
Rule 3 – Brand Experience: Telling a Compelling Story
Sustainable brands are not about the logo, print collateral or the website driven by the latest technologies; they are about a powerful idea framework and brand experience that transforms, moves and creates a meaningful dialogue.
We all care about our future and the future of our children and want to be moved and empowered to do the right thing. We also care about our individual success and prosperity. How can a brand deliver both? Fortunately, we have come to the point when doing the right thing is economically viable. Now is the time to position your company to stand tall among other leading brands like Interface, Aveda, Autodesk, U.S. Green Building Council, Nike, SunEdison, Seventh Generation and many others. What’s your story?
Success = empowering your audiences, creating a community, leading a movement, affecting change – all while delivering on the triple bottom line economic model: achieving business growth and economic prosperity that is good for people and the planet.Substance151 is a brand design + strategy firm focused on building sustainable brands for companies with environmentally and socially responsible products, services and corporate values. Their expertise includes every step of the branding process – from strategy through design, across print and digital media, and including all aspects of marketing communications. To engage them in helping you build a stronger brand and tell your story, please contact them at 410-732-8379 or contact(at)substance151.com.