Nowadays consumers are more familiar with various social issues that impact the quality of their lives. As a result it should come with no surprise that there has been a 33% increase since 2008 of consumers that believe ‘it is acceptable for brands to support good causes and make money at the same time’; 76% in 2012.
A very important step in establishing a sustainable business is effective brand communication.
According to Daniel Baylis, ‘for a business to enter the realm of social value and obtain institutional status while maintaining profitability, it needs to communicate the social purpose at the heart of its brand effectively. In the struggle to be good and profitable, the connecting variable is effective brand communication.’
‘When quality and price are equal, the most important factor influencing brand choice is purpose’ Allison Goldberg.
In this article I outline how to avoid the risk of greenwash and communicate your green credentials effectively.
When communicating about your company’s environmental performance it is important to avoid coming across as arrogant or self-congratulatory. In order to avoid such risks, a cohesive, eloquent and tactical communications strategy is needed!
The eight green marketing tips below outline how to avoid common mistakes when communicating your green credentials:
1. It is very important to only communicate what you are doing. Be specific and factual.
2. It is essential to be clear about your company’s aims, and the issues that you dealing with. It is advisable to avoid painting a perfect picture, consumers are not stupid and will see through inconsistencies in message. Be brave and discuss both successes and failures. Consumers will reward your honesty if it is genuine!
3. The content of your message should win over your audience. Form, colour and structure should only be there to enhance the message!
4. Use experts who understand environmental communications and are sympathetic to an environmentally conscious audience. Don’t rely on a marketing department that knows nothing about sustainability.
5. Consistently reinforce your company’s purpose and how that aligns to the core of your environmental message. The strongest brand messages have a company’s purpose intrinsically embedded in all their communications
6. Public perception varies. Investigate cultural differences and adjust messaging where necessary to reflect the norm in language and style
7. Analyze the industry you represent. Understand sentiment in your industry. If you have a high impact on the environment explain that you recognise this and then outline what you are doing to address. Don’t gloss over the serious issues and focus only on the easy wins. Confront the challenging issues in your communications
8. If using social media, you should avoid any form of censorship. Social media is about two way communication. Blocking a channel will be viewed as defensive. Rather be open and honest, respond to challenges with integrity and demonstrate that you are listening to feedback. Consumers will appreciate the conversation!
The New Rules of Green Marketing helps readers understand why value-based sustainability marketing has become a critical organizational capacity, and how readers can adopt this approach in their own organizations. Illustrated by examples from both international mainstream and the more niche “deep green” leaders who are showing everyone else the way, the book provides practical strategies, tools and inspiration for building every aspect of a credible value-based green marketing strategy. The New Rules of Green Marketing: Strategies, Tools, and Inspiration for Sustainable Branding
Charles El-Zeind is passionate about communicating environmental issues such as climate change and sustainability. Charles is currently involved in a grassroots community project with the Fiveways and Hollingdean Transition Network and writes regularly for the Sustainable Business Toolkit. He holds a bachelor degree from the University of Brighton in Environment and Media Studies.