5 Things Brand Consultants can do to Help Save the Planet

by Bibhash Banerjee

earthday_blogheader

Today is “Earth Day”. An annual reminder that the planet we live in needs our help, to save itself from our own evils. A shame in fact that we need a reminder to live a life which does not damage the environment and the planet we depend upon for survival. The detrimental impact our way of living has had on the planet over the years is massive, but I am not here to share statistics of how real the damage is I’ll leave that to the experts. Instead I would rather accept the damage done and look forward to small ways in which all of us can try and help save the planet.

We as Brand Consultants have access to some of the most influential people, decision makers of the corporate world; CEOs, MDs and other heads of companies. We are brought on board, to consult on how to bring about a visible and substantiated change in their brand which in-turn would positively impact their bottom line. We advice them on the their corporate values, beliefs and structures, in effect large and intricate strategic inputs on how to make their brand, whether corporate or product, appreciated and hopefully adored by their various stakeholders.

Because of this, I believe we can make a positive contribution towards helping an ailing planet. There are many things which we as people and responsible corporations can do. However, below I have mentioned just 5 inputs which brand consultants can give to help start the process.

1. “Please don’t ‘Green-Wash’ your brand”

Since sustainability, reducing carbon-footprints, low environment impact are the buzz words in the corporate world, every company has been jumping on the bandwagon to ensure that they are perceived as a “Green” brand. Not always the case, but there are companies who do not make a tangible change in their business practices towards the greener effect, but do communicate to their external stakeholders that they have. Brand Consultants have the audience to stop this from happening, and inform the decision makers of the negative effects of a “Green-Wash”. Consumers have become more informed and do not take anything at face value, they especially do not like to be cheated. One of the best practices to ensure tangible change towards more sustainable business is by producing an externally audited annual sustainability report, this would bring in credibility towards the brands green efforts. Brand consultancies can help design and develop this annual report to ensure it is in alignment with the brands values and the right message is sent across to the stakeholders.  Global brands such as Nokia and Apple among many others produce annual sustainability reports, which add to their credibility as global responsible brands. In fact, Apple produces a carbon footprint report for each of their products. Companies can make changes within their products, packaging and their entire supply chain to make a difference. Timberland is a great example of making small efforts towards the cause, their shoe boxes are known to be 100% environment friendly made out of either recycled or re-usable materials. We as brand consultants can provide valuable inputs and services at every link within the supply chain.

2. “Internalise greener practices”

The best place to start is at home. Companies have the largest bank of human resources at their disposal. Small changes in the way people operate within the organisation can have a major influence on the subject. Reducing the use of paper and using recycled paper, lesser wastage, energy efficient lighting in the office premises etc. can all add to the overall impact on the environment. Training and workshops to educate the employees on how they can personally reduce the impact on the environment from office to home. Any and all initiatives which are taken by the brand ensures that the company exudes an image externally of that of a “caring” brand. One which is not just a money making machine, but a more sensitive and aware ecosystem. Of course, this internalising exercise can be then leveraged to build a stronger image externally with all stakeholders. Besides, the impact of Re-use, Reduce and Re-cycle on the bottom line of the company are very well publicised. Brand Consultancies can aid in generating interest and engagement among employees through internal communications as well as creating external stakeholder communications for building the sustainable image of the brand.

3. “Associate with cause-led organisations”

“We are known by the people we associate with”. There is truism in that quote with regards to the identity of a corporate as well. There are many organisations in the world who are doing exceptional work relating to a greener planet. Greenpeace, NRDC, World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Sierra Club ;just to name a few.  By encouraging them, associating with them or even starting an initiative of which there can be a joint ownership, there would be a significant impact on the image of an organisation. This association would bring about a tangible change in the organisation which will keep the image at a perceivable distance from being a “green-washed” brand, as mentioned in point 1. One of the best examples of creating a benchmark yourself, is that of the UTZ Certification, which was co-founded by the Dutch coffee roaster Ahold Coffee Company in 1997.

4. “Get branded by industry standards”

Like every brand has a visual representation, primarily the logo, every cause and every industry standard has a mark, logo or a stamp. There are industry standards propagating best practices for lower environment impact and “Going Green”. Strive to get endorsed by these standards, by doing so, not only with the company need to adopt best practices, ensuring the mandatory checks and balances are met, the “branded standard” can then be publicised to all external stakeholders, giving the brand credibility within the space. There are many internationally recognised environmental certifications such as the ISO 14001, EMAS and Planet Positive.

5. “Know that, everything you do matters”

One of the, if not the most important things to know is that all actions taken right at the individual level has an impact and influence on the whole. The best practices, checks and balances, policies, associations, image building among others, that a company puts in place and professes has a cascading effect, if done properly from the top down. If the head of the company does it and makes it a part of the corporate culture, the employees do it, the social circuit of the employees are made aware of it, the children of the employees learn the best practices and the next generation is taught from a very young age the importance of living a greener life and their influence on the planet.

Brands today have a major influence on how consumers dress, act, sound, feel and behave. What the influential brands have to say has a great impact on the consumer’s daily practices and purchase behavior. We as brand consultants have the audience to ensure the brand speaks a better and sustainable language.  with the hope of eventually influencing the consumers to act positively towards the environment.

Please leave a comment or two to let me know what you thought of the article, I am sure I have missed out on many more points which you can add to. I will try and incorporate the points as updates on this article (with due credit of course). And if you have liked reading it, please share it among your network.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s