Cynically flouting your ‘green’ credentials won’t do you any favours in the long run. But if your business is genuinely sustainable, it will build messaging into the brand. How?
Brand innovation firm BBMG’s produced a report, “Disrupt and Delight”, which offers an inspiring guide to creating sustainable brands. It has five principles for brand innovation that are as easily practised by an SME as a big business. Here’s our take on the suggestions:
- Start with what’s sacred. UVA psych professor Jonathan Haidt is quoted as saying it’s not just product benefits that motivate buyers, but stories that create “a sacredness” around something. “That’s why Zappos and Coke are in the business of Happiness.” So is Happy Computer, a small IT training company whose simple, happiness-centric vision informs everything it does – from its Happiness Manifesto to its partnerships to founder Henry Stewart’s forays into the world of stand-up.
- Design holistically. This is most famously seen in floor manufacturer Desso’s Cradle-to Cradle approach, but small US-based Ecovative Design has partnered with the likes of 3M to this quite literally. It is developing mycelium (mushroom) technology to create biodegradable material for packaging.
- Create collaboratively. Use customers and employees to co-create the products or services they want and you’ll avoid wasted time and materials. You can use open forum platforms such as InnoCentive for crowsourcing, work through coalitions such as the Sustainability Consortium, create products socially at Quirky. But don’t forget employees. Mayday Network’s Trading for Good digital service is specifically for small UK businesses.
- Get game. It’s an ugly term, but ‘gamification’ is a handy way of nudging along behavioural change, especially among Millenials. Offering rewards or points and social-gaming-style approaches for sustainable behaviour also makes it less serious and more fun – Recyclebank’s a great example.
- Disrupt and delight. Environmentally-conscious cleaning product maker Method’s classic challenger mentality is just one example. Innocent, the smoothie drinks business, was once a start-up that used its ethical and environmental beliefs to build the business. More recently, Hiut denim is trying the same thing, challenging the notion of clothing as a throwaway commodity by making high-end jeans locally in Wales. Ella’s Kitchen has become an award-winner by engaging with its core ‘audience’ in a playful way – while gently promoting it ethics along the way.