As sustainability becomes a key platform, both in business plans and marketing programs, we’re seeing the emergence of a new c-level position, the CSO (chief sustainability officer), as well as practice areas in consulting and branding firms, such as Saatchi & Saatchi “S” to help guide CSO’s and their organizations on how to develop, measure and communicate meaningful programs.
Despite all this brainpower, industries are still struggling to define and communicate standards and consumers remain confused as to how to understand which products and companies are truly green vs. “greenwashed.” This WSJ article re: the environmental impact of reusable shopping bags illustrates the point perfectly.
As average citizens begin to wrap their minds and arms around these concepts, a key source of information and influence is coming from grassroots groups creating their own real-world and online “green” communities. These movements are gaining momentum and a loyal and engaged following by doing three really smart things:
1) They deliver their message in dynamic, heart-felt, user-friendly terms
2) They offer a clear and easy way to participate
3) They allow for ordinary citizens to share their accomplishments, both in person and online
While you want to communicate your green and sustainable efforts on your website and in your marketing materials, that’s just covering the baseline - not enough to create engagement and build trust on a level that puts your brand at the top of the list. Tapping into some of these movements that have credibility and passion built in demonstrates that your brand’s commitment is bigger than just selling products or engaging in a seasonal marketing campaign, shows that you are plugged in and paying attention to the people and communities that are making a difference, and will provide an informal barometer on how your brand and messaging are perceived, as well as a source of new ideas.
A handful of examples are listed below, but they’re just the tip of the iceberg. Seek out and connect with the groups aligned with your product or service area and brand values – this part is critical as anything that smacks of greenwashing will definitely not fly with these folks - and watch your own green movement grow,