Why Your Small Business Should Pay More Attention to Green Branding
Successful businesses across all industries have embraced green branding by choosing eco-friendly practices that stay mindful of our planet’s future. Perhaps you have not historically devoted many resources to that aspect of your business. Alternatively, maybe you’ve made a few green efforts in the past, but want to do more and are unsure how to move forward. Here are some thought-provoking reasons why it makes sense for your business to take green branding seriously and incorporate it into your operations.
People Actively Choose Sustainable Brands
COVID-19 made people think about purchasing differently. In the early stages of the pandemic, shortages of staples like toilet paper and flour caused bare shelves. According to a July 2020 study, 67% of people said they would be more cautious about resource scarcity during the pandemic. Then, 65% said they would become more aware of their consumption moving forward.
Then, 53% of people said they switched to lesser-known brands for sustainability reasons, and even more individuals in the 18-24 age group did the same. Most people surveyed also reported that buying sustainable products made them feel happy about their purchasing choices.
These statistics suggest that now is an excellent time to help people live more consciously with the products you sell. Moreover, eco-friendliness could become an aspect that sets you apart from larger companies that do not have that focus.
Take the time to think about your sustainability aims. Do you want to donate a portion of all product sales to an endangered animal conservation charity? Perhaps you’ll plant trees in the community or plan days where your employees give an hour or two to clean up litter. It can become overwhelming if you try to become more environmentally minded all at once or too quickly. Pick a couple priorities to work on before expanding your approach.
Eco-Friendly Packaging Can Differentiate Your Business
Packaging is a crucial part of your product that can influence aspects including user-friendliness, visual appeal and reusability. Many companies offer packaging made from recycled materials. Options like recycled bags can show your commitment to the planet with a readily accessible option. You’ll encourage people to keep enjoying the container after they receive it instead of throwing the bag away.
As you become more familiar with eco-friendly packaging choices, think about providing a distinctive selling point. For example, shoe brand PUMA displayed its footwear in plastic sleeves that people could convert into bags. This approach led to a 65% reduction in the paper used for the packaging. The sleeves even had built-in handles so people could carry them home without shopping bags. These thoughtful design choices emphasize that PUMA representatives wanted to get their sustainability strategy right.
A packaging plan could also center on removing unnecessary materials. Perhaps your packaging includes an instruction leaflet. Since so many people get information online, you could point them to a dedicated website if they need product details. That approach could help the planet while cutting costs for your business.
You Can Remind People of Long-Standing Values
When some company leaders realized that more customers cared about sustainable practices, they ramped up green branding efforts mostly for publicity. In many cases, people called them out on it and asserted that they did not seem so eco-conscious a year or two ago.
Conversely, some companies had green philosophies long before showcasing them became fashionable. One of them is NewTechWood, which specializes in deck materials. The company’s principles include offering products made from 95% recycled materials and reducing its carbon footprint through waste reduction and energy conservation. The company also undergoes third-party audits to ensure it complies with environmental, health and safety requirements.
Sustainability is a foundational principle for the NewTechWood team, and they uphold that goal in numerous ways. Perhaps the same is true for you. If so, now is a fantastic time to remind people of those values. You might create marketing messages that say things like, “We’ve operated with a water-conservation plan for 35 years and counting” or, “Our founder devoted himself to running a sustainable business eight decades ago, and we continue embracing his ideals today.”
If you don’t have a sustainable history, that’s okay. In that case, your message could be that you want to make a positive change and are putting in the time and effort to make persistent differences in how you’ll operate for the foreseeable future.
Consumers Will Pay More for Green Products
When giving their opinions in a 2019 survey, more than half of respondents from all age groups considered themselves “very” or “extremely” environmentally conscious. Moreover, 37% would pay up to 5% more to get planet-friendly products.
People are ready and willing to buy eco-friendly items, but it’s probably insufficient to simply say “Our product helps the planet.” That’s because the research also found that 51% thought that companies’ eco-friendly processes are more important for changing consumer behavior than local or government-mandated regulations. Capitalize on the buying power of Earth-conscious shoppers by spelling out precisely what your actions are and how they help.
The Dr. Bronner’s soap company spells out those things in its ALL-ONE! Report, which the company first published in 2015. The most recent edition of the document covers topics like fair-trade activity, sustainable agriculture and recycled materials. It also includes a breakdown of the company’s annual donations by cause and features a timeline of its year-round activism.
You don’t need to take such an all-encompassing approach in the early stages of your green branding journey. However, it’s vital to give consumers as many specifics as you can — whether describing your current practices or your future aspirations. Then, you’ll give the impression that you take sustainability seriously.
View Green Branding as an Ongoing Process
You can’t become an eco-conscious company overnight, and trying to do so could make people perceive your efforts as lacking authenticity. Once you decide your small business will become more sustainable, investigate the changes you can uphold for the long term. Even if they seem minor, they’ll still pay off in time and prove to customers that you’re dedicated to making progress.
Adopt the mindset that sustainability is a path to embark on for the rest of your life — not a destination to reach in a few weeks or months. You’ll almost certainly make a few missteps while running a green-branded company. However, you’ll learn through experience. Plus, once people understand you have pure intentions about making the planet a better place, they’ll be more forgiving of any blunders.
Operating a more environmentally friendly company requires continual diligence. The tips and examples here will give you valuable starting points, especially when you adjust them to match the needs of your company and customers.
Eleanor Hecks is editor-in-chief at Designerly Magazine. Eleanor was the creative director and occasional blog writer at a prominent digital marketing agency before becoming her own boss in 2018. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and dog, Bear.