Having recently enjoyed an eco-tour (which included fishing plastic out of a natural marine park), it reminded me of the importance of sustainability in everyday life. All organisations are under real pressure to do their bit for the environment regardless of their size or sector, and so they should be because we all need to look after the planet.
Sustainability is more than simply a buzzword. There are genuine business benefits which can come with building a sustainable brand - demonstrating a commitment to sustainability can help to win new business partners when it comes to tendering contracts and attracting high calibre employees as well as helping your company to stand out from the crowd.
So which core values or brand propositions should be considered and built into everyday business life? And how can marketing help communicate these core values? In this article, we take a look.
How to market 'Green' values
If your business does have a commendable track record for sustainability, there is nothing to stop you shouting from the rooftops about it. That doesn't mean you need to make your brand purely about sustainability, but you should certainly make the sustainable policies which you have visible.
In many cases, from a marketer's perspective, this can be about 'showing' rather than 'telling'. If you use recycled materials in your packaging, a small note at the bottom of the parcel or package can inform the recipient that the package is made from sustainable materials.
Set out your sustainability agenda
Define your principles and values related to sustainability, ensure that they are clearly set out on your website, and within marketing collateral such as brochures. There should be an area on your website or print media dedicated to amplifying your sustainability record.
It could be that your product is completely green 'from the ground up'; that your supply chain is completely ethical and that you only work with suppliers and partners with a commendable track record; or details of the work which you do for Third Sector organisations such as charities and non-governmental organisations. The key is to ensure that these policies and activities are clearly set out where all can see them.
Not so long ago, I was advising a company entering the UK market with a high-end recycling product. However, they weren’t ‘walking the talk’, as the product, whilst helping businesses to recycle, was itself not made of recyclable materials. Following my advice, it was great to see them rethink their manufacturing processes to address this.
Highlight how customers can save
In many cases, when clients are saving money, they are also saving the key resources on the planet. This is certainly pertinent for products and services which offer efficiency - whether in terms of energy, materials or otherwise.
As a sustainable business, this gives you the opportunity to highlight how customers can do their bit for the environment, while saving financial resources in the process. Don't miss out on the chance to reap the marketing advantages of this dual benefit.
Formalise your green credentials
Stay on the lookout for accreditations and standards which can help you to demonstrate your sustainability, as these can add weight to your brand. For example, in the UK, the Green Accord and Green Mark are two forms of environmental accreditations which businesses can earn. They are then able to display the logo on their products, marketing and sales collateral.
You might also consider positioning your brand as a sustainability leader. This can involve initiating or joining campaigns with environmental objectives and encouraging your customer base to participate.
Don't forget to market internally
If you want your sustainability policies to work, then it is important to market effectively to your employees and suppliers. Why? Because these are the people who will carry the sustainability banner for your as a business, leading by example on a day to day basis.
So, don't forget to remind employees what your 'green' values are. This can be done in internal meetings; a 'sustainability board' at your office or headquarters, which tracks progress and highlights achievements; or a sustainability newsletter which serves to keep everyone up to date with sustainability activities.
As ever, after our day to day business tasks are completed, there is only so much time we can devote to sustainability activities. But by making the right choices in a few key areas and ensuring that our branding reflects that we are making the right choices, we can build a 'greener' brand.