Is Sustainable Branding Misconstrued as a Trend by Brands?
May 26, 2021
As the discourse around sustainability, ethical consumption, and thrifting is gaining momentum, climate change-related terminology seems to have taken the form of buzzwords. Branding agencies are making an evident shift to cashing in the issue of sustainability. Sustainable brands and local businesses emerge in double digits on Instagram each day. Simultaneously, fast fashion labels are brought under fire by millennials and Gen Z. Such a context compels the industry to rethink its branding strategies. Band wagoning, of course, can help boost branding and outreach, but sustainability is a serious concern with tangible ramifications. Performative activism and greenwashing can destroy brand image in the blink of an eye.
Branding agencies must realise that sustainability must not become the core of a branding strategy; instead, it should be treated as merely an addition to an existing and robust branding plan. The core elements of marketing and branding a product or service should remain intact.
The question of sustainability holds great potential to become a personal one, making the consumption process an enhanced, interpersonal experience for the consumer. Studies indicate that consumers are willing to pay slightly more for a sustainable and ‘responsible’ alternative to a product in question. This figure stands at an eye-popping 70 percent in India, even when the sustainable movement is still developing. In the West, it seems to have peaked.
Engaging the audience becomes an efficient tactic, especially when branding strategies implore consumers to make environmentally responsible consumption choices. This also increases credibility. Sustainability can be treated as a channel for brands to build better, intimate relationships with their consumers. At the same time, marketing tactics must consider that there’s only so much that the consumer will be willing to compromise for the cause at hand.
There are various aspects to sustainability, including greener packaging, ethical labour practices, sustainability-related CSR initiatives, zero waste, conscious manufacturing processes, and the like. Brands must take the first step towards mindful production and share identifiable goals with their consumers. Yet, it is helpful to remind oneself that greenwashing is an absolute no-no. Time and again, one must evoke the adage ‘Honesty is the best policy’ while conceiving branding plans.
Sustainability is, and has always been a long-term commitment to mindful production and consumption. It is not a campaign, and it is not fleeting. Environmentally conscious consumption is a culture and should be treated by businesses and branding agencies accordingly.
Ideally, sustainability is here to stay- and rightfully so.