By Lily Germain, Senior Campaign Executive at Bottle P
Everyone is making an effort to make better choices when it comes to their environmental impact, brands included. But what happens when you make claims that are called out for being false?…
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing describes when a brand makes a statement that implies, they are making something sustainable, eco-friendly, or green, when the reality is, the rest of the business is well, anything but.
As big-brand names are increasingly being chastised for greenwashing (not only by the ASA, but by consumers too), the apprehension marketers – as they plan to launch their latest eco campaign, partnership, or activation – is very real. But don’t fear, here are five simple steps you can take to ensure your statements are trustworthy, and taken seriously.
- Brand Authenticity
When talking about your brand, it can be difficult to publicly share the areas you may be lacking. However, when it comes to sustainability, honesty really is the best policy.
You will be seen as far more authentic if you talk openly about the areas where you may not be the best at sustainably measures… just yet. But giving visibility on how you are planning to make positive moves, in line with best environmental practices, because you want to continue do-good for the future, has real value.
What does this approach tell your target audience? Well, it shows that you have nothing to hide, you’re simply trying to do better, and you are not in the market of making bold, false claims.
- Your brands sustainability pledge
Big stunt-like PR campaigns showing off flash-in-the-pan sustainability efforts are, sometimes, tone-deaf in the eyes of the consumer.
As a brand you really should be working towards more long-term sustainability commitments, rather than spending heaps of cash on one big show.
Telling honest and more subtle stories around these ongoing goals are a better way of showcasing that your brand really is invested in supporting action against climate change.
Solution-storytelling – informative, helpful-to- the-audience, an educative how-to style may be the best skew for the comms plan.
- Brand and product collaborations
Sometimes, two is better than one,especially when there is a non-competitive (but rather complimentary) brand who share the same values as you. Together, you could create quite the force.
And, because we’re in the world of digital PR, the chances of organically reaching a wider audience, are even greater, so it’s a win-win.
The simplest form of eco-endorsement could be a simple shout-out to other brands you admire. Then at the other end of the spectrum… embarking on a partnership with longevity to create a product, or even build a dedicated space to immerse your consumers in.
- Your brand sustainability mission
Rightly, any brands’ sustainability mission statements, policies and manifestos will span across a range of factors in the product development cycle; from carbon emissions, recyclability, packaging materials, responsible sourcing, energy, biodiversity, and general environmental impact.
Stories around this kind of real work, that you as a business are actioning behind the scenes, should live on your brands website.
Your research and learnings through the process, can be shared as educational content onsite. For on-page share informative pieces starting from the light-touch (for those who just want a quick validation of your credentials), through to longer-form (for those who are keen to learn much more).
But be specific and focus on one of the topics so you become an expert in that area of sustainability, in the eyes of the audience.
- Brand endorsements and influencer partners
Another way to avert the risk of greenwashing is earning authority through strong brand endorsements.
And go beyond just one ‘brand ambassador’, over time work on building a collective of green cheerleaders. From influencers across different, audience-relevant social media platforms, to authoritative partners, charities and organisations.
The best partnerships to promote sustainability values is with those who are well respected within the sustainability sector. They can offer their endorsement amongst their followers for your brands’ sustainability efforts, to help squash any potential misleading environmental claims.
So that’s it. Although on the surface it seems daunting, following simple steps like these will help lead your brand towards trustworthy sustainability comms, and help your audience see the good work you’re doing towards leaving a good impact on this planet.