It pays to be good

Climate change has become the Climate Emergency. School children across the world are striking and influential individuals—from Greta Thunberg to David Attenborough—are pointing the finger directly at global leaders. Progressive brands are stepping up and taking the lead on environmental protection themselves. And, with a growing consumer demand for sustainable goods, it increasingly pays to be good.

Brands can help people live well

For businesses creating new products and services that help people to consume green, there is a significant commercial opportunity. Nine out of 10 people want to live more sustainably . Brands that help them do this will earn both financial rewards and customer loyalty. In 2018 Unilever revealed that its most sustainable brands grew 46 percent faster than the rest of the business, as consumers seek out the conscious options.

Sustainable business models needed

Sustainability is no longer a selling point for niche audiences. It has reached the level of a mainstream issue and therefore becomes a hygiene factor, nothing more. Businesses that fail to recognize this face an unforgiving public. Burberry learned its lesson when it incinerated $40m worth of merchandise. The online and media backlash forced the retailer into a groveling climbdown.

For many businesses and sectors, the risk stretches to their license to operate. From fast fashion retailers rethinking their business model, to bottled water companies reimagining the water bottle, many industries are reinventing in order to avoid extinction. Even polluting energy and extracting companies are showing they can pivot to protect their future, with the world’s largest mining company, BHP Group, committing to exiting thermal coal.

Landor’s brand take-outs:

Sustainability could be the biggest single financial opportunity for businesses in 2020. But for brands to benefit, it must be approached with integrity and a genuine desire to create positive impacts in the world.

Here are our three rules for incorporating sustainability into your brand position:

1. Negative messaging repels—stay positive

The issues surrounding sustainability are complex and colossal. But to create mass behavior change brands need to cut through the complexities and make the task easy and accessible to all. An approach weighted in negativity has been proven to repel attention, so if you want your brand to be desirable, stay positive.

2. Don’t make promises you can’t keep

Sustainability is about meaningful actions—not empty words. But if you are not genuine in your commitment, can’t live up to the ideals you set or promises you make, don’t do it. You’ll fare better in the court of public opinion if you’re successful in taking small steps than if you fall taking a big one.

3. Differentiation is dependent on breaking category codes

To stand out, brands need to break conventions and broaden appeal beyond the traditional ‘green’ consumer. You only need to look at the leaders in this space to understand that. Tesla doesn’t follow convention, but it cares and it’s now mainstream.