Sustainable branding matters

Posted by

Taylor Gathercole


Brand is an idea in the consumer mind. A unique blend of function and emotional characteristics perceived by consumers as an additional value, unique experience and fulfilled promise. (Lynch et al, 2004).

There is an enormous relationship between brands and consumers – in a way that consumers determine development and the success of brands, and brands reversely influence and manage consumer behaviour. Branding has shifted to “the story of belonging and pervasion” (Olins, 2003).

In recent years we’ve seen increased consumer interest in environmentally and socially conscious alternatives, with these alternatives rising dramatically. Even though there is a behaviour gap – the inconsistency between consumers attitudes and actual buying behaviour – sustainable attributes are becoming largely important in brand valuation. Therefore the relation between mainstream brands and their consumers have prospered in a way that people want much more for their money – access to all the benefits generated by the company and from the standpoint of the companies, that means doing the right thing by contributing to a greater purpose.

Consumer sustainable perceptions and preferences, companies sustainable practices and brand equity are strongly interrelated. Sustainability can bring more profound meaning to a brand image and consequently greater emotional bonds and differentiation. Moreover, it enhances public recognition, competitive advantage and provides future financial health and growth.

More than 50% of consumers from a global survey claimed they would prefer to buy a product from an environmentally responsible company, while almost 70% of workers from the same survey stressed the importance of working for an environmental company.

Proper implementation of the sustainability concept into society requires a strong and comprehensive strategy. Best positioned and trustful brands are most inspirational, most influencing and with the ability to induce mass resonance and action.

Consumer acceptance of and position attunes towards sustainable brands depends on available information and their procession by individual, as well as “sustainability fit within brand schema, consumer motivation and strength of relationship with the brand” (Gordon, 2002, p.31) The idea of “sustainability” is often very abstract and that the issues are too large to digest. Consumer motivation is driven mainly by their concern for those issues and belief that their contribution makes sense, so it is important that brands make the information of the sustainable practices daily available and easy to understand, communicating to consumers why they should care and why it is important.

Sustainable branding is more than just eco-labelling. Translating sustainable principles into real behaviour requires integrating them into society and business ideology as a core value. It does take time, investment and consistency in all stages, as well as leading consumers through the maze of sustainability, a path full of potential risk and challenges.

Consumers who follow their favourite brands are willing to identify with the brand values and to adopt the messages and lifestyle that brands recommend. Consumers are also already beginning to operate from a sustainability mindset, even if the behaviour gap causes a struggle to make it a lifestyle. The pressure on brands is increasing to make it easier for them to do so, calling for greater transparency and pushing for more sustainable options.

If you’re business looking to regenerate your brand or develop your sustainability credentials and tell the world all the wonderful things you’re doing, get in touch and we’ll grab a coffee – Contact