Posts Tagged ‘Branding’
Not long ago I believed sustainable business, renewable energy and the socially responsible consumer were on the verge of going mainstream. I know they will get there eventually, but that day now seems farther away.
Those of us impatient for change — in our organizations, among our customers, within society — would do well to sit with this fact: People are more motivated to avoid losses than to achieve gains. How much more? About twice as motivated.
This is just one of many thought-provoking research findings explained by preeminent psychologist Daniel Kahneman in his latest book, “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”
This is my second post exploring what some of Kahneman’s findings could hold for brands and the organizations and leaders managing them. Earlier I looked at the distinction between plausibility and probability in the brand stories we tell. Here I’m interested in what humans’ deep-seated aversion to loss means for purveyors of change. (more…)
After several hours of questions and conversation earlier this week, my clients and I seemed only somewhat closer to nailing down their target customer. Then the business development manager shared a customer profile they drafted a couple months earlier. Funny thing, he could have just as easily been describing the people in his company.
Could it be that to know thyself is to know thy customer? At the very least, it’s a great place to start when your profiling a target audience. (more…)
Does sustainability change the rules of branding? I believe it does and describe why and how in a guest column today for Sustainable Business Oregon. Here’s an excerpt:
In branding, the job of connecting emotionally is typically left to marketing and advertising. History suggests that works for many product categories where competitive differentiation is scant and great advertising is their only hope of making consumers care.
Once a company starts hanging its hat on sustainability, however, the rules change. Branding is no longer a game of emotions alone. It becomes a game of facts and emotions. That takes the practice of branding outside the narrow zone of marketing and advertising and into the broad realm of operations and employee engagement to ensure sustainability practices are, in fact, implemented.
My piece also includes the 10 steps to building a sustainable brand. Check it all out and let me know what you think!
A business that strives to be sustainable but falls far short on its sustainability promises is committing “a greater sin” than a business that ignores sustainability but keeps its promises. That’s one of the findings of the new Sustainability + Branding Survey of sustainability advocates in business.
My partners and I in the Sustainable Branding Collaborative have released a summary report of the survey, which we conducted in late 2010. I encourage you to download a copy and see what your peers have to say.
When asked which is the “greater sin,” 78 percent of respondents said it’s worse for a business to make an effort to become more sustainable but allow its publicized promises on sustainability to far exceed its actual practices. Only 22 percent said it’s a greater sin for a company to make no claim or effort to become sustainable but otherwise deliver on all of its promises.
What’s clear from the survey is business executives committed to sustainability loathe greenwashing and value integrity. The findings validate the importance our group’s branding approach places on ensuring the sustainability practices of your employees and organization deliver what your brand promises.
Branding advice from sustainability proponents
The survey respondents’ top pieces of advice for companies branding more sustainable products and services include:
- Be honest, be authentic, “walk your talk”
- Build a solid sustainability foundation using methods such as The Natural Step Framework, whole systems thinking and triple-bottom-line accounting
- Measure, verify and certify sustainability claims, preferably using a third party
- Look at branding as a critical foundation for business success, not as a luxury
Does sustainability change branding?
Among other findings, respondents were almost evenly split on the question of whether the practice of branding should be different for an organization that is striving to become sustainable: 53 percent said no, 47 percent said yes.
Branding is branding, say the respondents who believe the practice of branding should be the same — regardless of whether a business is on the sustainability path. Those who believe the practice should be different say sustainable brands need to place a greater emphasis on authenticity, honesty and delivering on the brand promise than traditional brands do. They also believe branding must be approached as part of a comprehensive, company-wide effort to be sustainable.
No matter how you go about branding your business or product, the values of honesty, transparency and keeping your promises are paramount. Whether you believe these values can be instilled through traditional branding methods or require new approaches, the sustainability proponents in this survey strongly advise you to do what you say.
About the survey
The Sustainable Branding Collaborative conducted the Sustainability + Branding Survey November 10-17, 2010. The survey gathered online responses from 291 innovators and early adopters in the sustainable business movement.
2010 tied 2005 as the hottest year on record, according to reports last week. The news came as flood waters overwhelmed Queensland, Australia and mudslides killed hundreds in southeast Brazil. The natural disasters were made worse by global warming, scientists told ABC News.
Meanwhile, a new poll shows only 40% of Americans believe global warming is caused by human activity. And New York Times environmental blogger Andy Revkin said in 2010 “global warming, the greatest story rarely told, had reverted to its near perpetual position on the far back shelf of the public consciousness — if not back in the freezer.”
Is that how it is for you? Is climate change even on your radar screen as a business? And if it is, are you doing something about it? Or are you treating it like some harmless object along the distant horizon?
What your brand can do
I won’t make an argument for why you or your business should care about climate change. I’ll leave that to authors like Bill McKibben, whose 2010 book “Eaarth” is an unsparing description of a world already scarred by global warming and a guide to how we must now live in it.
What I would offer are five ways your business brand can engage stakeholders on climate change. After all, a large minority of Americans believes humans are causing global warming and increasing numbers of customers are holding business accountable. On the opportunity side, brand differentiation around climate change is there for the taking in many markets.
- Brand as promise: You can’t waffle on climate change. Choose to believe the scientific evidence and climate scientists like this one who states unequivocally, ”We’re observing the climate changing – it’s happening, it’s real, it’s a fact.” Take a stand. Let your stakeholders know your business cares deeply about the trajectory of the world’s climate. Then show them what you’re doing about it through your products, services, operations and culture.
- Brand as meaning: Customers, employees and, indeed, all stakeholders are in constant search for meaning. That’s life. Connect what you’re doing on climate change to what matters to your stakeholders. And what matters to most of us is that we and those we care about achieve happiness and avoid suffering. The climate is now on a very unhappy path. Be an example for a different way forward.
- Brand as emotion: We all experience basic emotions such as joy, love, anger, sadness, surprise and fear. For many of us, the thought of climate change overwhelms us and triggers undesirable emotions. How much more desirable is a brand that taps into the joy and satisfaction in caring for our planet and its current and future inhabitants?
- Brand as story: Humans connect through stories. It’s how we entertain, educate, preserve our cultures and instill values. Your brand is a story. Place it within the Mother of All 21st Century Stories — climate change — and watch as new, meaningful and emotional connections get made.
- Brand as experience: No matter what we tell others about our brands, what determines their fates are the experiences others have of them. When someone interacts with your business or product, they experience your brand as a promise kept or a promise broken. Promise to be on the right side of climate change and then give others the experience of standing with you — and you with them — in creating a world hospitable to all.