3 Tips to Make Sure You’re Not Greenwashing
“We’re eco-friendly and completely renewable with a sustainable product!”
You’ve probably heard these buzzwords before. In the past few years, brands have been trying hard to appear more environmentally friendly because they know that’s what consumers want.
Creating a green brand has become so important that some companies are willing to fake or embellish their environmental values — this is called greenwashing.
Nestle has published bottled water ads in the Globe and Mail that claim, “bottled water is the most environmentally responsible consumer product in the world.” This received complaints filed under the Canadian Code of Advertising Standards. This skepticism towards green advertising is reflected in data collected by BrandSpark.
It’s evident that environmentally friendly products are important, but brands have to work hard to gain consumer trust. Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your green initiatives come across as a genuine shift towards more sustainable business practices.
Tip #1: Talk the Talk.
Use your platforms on the internet to publicize what your goals are. By doing this, your brand now has eyes on it, so you’re holding yourself accountable for reaching those goals. Talking the talk is also a great way to get employees on the same page, with everyone banding together to fight the same fight.
A cohesive campaign with overarching hashtags across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter would be effective in getting both customers and staff to rally for you. Being transparent in such a public way removes the veil of secrecy that a consumer-brand relationship often carries and leads to an increase in trust.
Tip #2: Partner with Others.
At times, the internet can be a hostile environment, but in general, people want to see others succeed. If you’re talking the talk, you may inspire others to help you on your efforts — whether they’re consumers or organizations that are working towards the same goal.
Use Twitter to Talk to Your Audience:
Brands, big and small, often use Twitter polls to partner with their audiencesand ask them for advice. Here are two examples of consumer insights that can be used to make business decisions:
We’re at #CES2016 & letting you choose what we cover. Vote now and watch our Periscope tomorrow!— Amazon.com (@amazon) January 7, 2016
#eBayChoice: Do you want to unlock an awesome deal on an Apple Watch or Fitbit Charge HR?— eBay (@eBay) August 14, 2016
By using tweets, campaign hashtags, and polls, your brand can give the consumer exactly what they’re looking for.
Another important type of partnership is getting your company or product recognized by official eco-labels. This adds further credibility to your brand by getting acknowledgement from well-known eco-focused organizations.
Energy Star is a program that provides unbiased information that consumers and businesses rely on to reduce emissions and save money. The Energy Star service mark is awarded to certified energy efficient products, buildings, and industrial plants.
Energy Star, the USDA, and UL are all labels that can influence purchasing decisions. Here is a full list of eco-labels in Canada and the United States.
Tip #3: Don’t Forget to Walk the Walk.
Companies need to live their values. If you don’t carry through on your word, all of your efforts from Tip #1 would have been for nothing.
Keep the public involved every step of the way. This gives the brand several opportunities to interact with the consumer and will create a story that people can follow.
A Brand That Lives Their Values
PepsiCo dedicates a lot of time to ensuring sustainable productions across their umbrella of brands. In 2012, PepsiCo received the Stockholm Industry Water Award in recognition of its efforts to reduce water and energy usage across all of its business operations, from supply chains to factories.
PepsiCo works with farmers to monitor water usage and carbon emissions. As well, they retrofit factories and corporate offices to improve energy efficiency.
For example, the 350-employee Casa Grande Frito Lay facility in Arizona generates half the plant’s electricity requirements with solar power, water is recycled to drinking standards, and waste is recycled wherever possible. The facility is one of over 20 other PepsiCo sites certified to LEED sustainability standards.
Eventually, you’ll be able to share successes, which is a time when both your brand and your consumers will be able to rejoice — for achieving green goals and believing in a company that does.