7 steps to brand up your business’ sustainability: Vol 1
Do you want to grow your business’ sustainability or create a sustainable brand? I have compiled seven steps that help you to market your label from the outset in a sustainable and ethical manner. To pass on the input as vividly as possible to you, I have written a step by step guide. This post is not to be a one-man show, but I want you to participate actively. Therefore, try to work through this guide step by step and answer the questions as specifically as possible.
This article is especially for labels that are still building their brands and are unsure about the right marketing. In order to establish a sustainable brand and to be perceived as such, it is important that you integrate this topic into your corporate culture from the very beginning. So I will start by discussing a few basic points before we talk about how you can integrate sustainability into your marketing mix.
1. CREATE A CULTURE OF ETHICS
It is important that you not only appear ethically in your external communications and in dealing with your customers, but you must live it in all areas of your company to be perceived as such. You must ensure that everyone within your company is treated with trust, respect, and dignity in every interaction. To achieve this, you must create a corporate culture in which social values are just as important as monetary goals, every day. In the implementation, you can follow the following steps;
What ethical values are important to you personally
Determine them and integrate them into your professional and private life. Be an example for your employees.
How do you communicate within your company? How is the external communication?
Analyze the status quo and make absolute transparency and openness a key factor of your business. Always. Absolutely always. Implement an open-door policy and ask your employees for their opinions.
What ethical standards should apply to your company?
Create an overview of all the important values and procedures. It should be a real document, to which your employees can adhere and which provides help with grey areas.
How do your employees deal with the ethical requirements?
Make sure that everyone adheres to the ethical requirements. Do not allow exceptions.
How is the topic of sustainability integrated into the company’s daily life?
Value ethical behavior and reward it.
“It is important that you not only appear ethically in your external communications and in dealing with your customers, but you must live it in all areas of your company to be perceived as such. ”
2. DEVELOP A BRAND PERSONALITY
Brands are perceived by us as faces. As Faces of people. The more harmoniously and consistently a brand has been developed, the more it is like a unique personality that is in a relationship with us. This link between the brand and its customers has a big impact on your brand success.
In specialist jargon, this step is called the creation of a brand personality. This brand personality characterises the set of human features associated with your brand. The characteristics can include both, demographic features (age, gender) or even classical personality traits (intelligence, sincerity). When developing a sustainable business with a unique brand personality, one has to take a few peculiarities into consideration. It is super important that you build a personality that is perceived as authentic and believable by your target audience. In contrast to traditional and big brands (L’Oreal, Chanel), that portray the typical brand image of a glamorous, attractive beauty, it is about creating a brand personality with a deeper and more meaningful attitude. I’ll now show you four ways to creatively build your own brand identity.
Your Brand Goes to a Party
First of all you have to imagine how your brand shall appear towards others. Let’s say your brand is a person who enters a party. Of course you want her to communicate with the other guests at the party in a memorable way. What would you say and how would your approach be – quietly or gently? Would your sound be more technical and specialized or accessible to everyone? Write the words that describe how your brand would behave.
20 Things About Me
Ready for a party game? Imagine your brand is a person and that person created a list of 20 things that he/she would say about him/herself. Use Internet memes, quiz games and lists to get particularly funny and interesting features. Be creative! Once your brain has adjusted to it, the words will flow. Once you’re done, look back at the list and see what similar features you’ll find there. Is your tone more serious or funny? Are your facts direct or abstract? If you add these details together, you will create an impressive picture of your personal brand personality.
Find a Spiritual Animal for Your Brand
Maybe the comparison to a cocktail party does not quite fit your brand. If so, try it with the concept of a mascot – this is not only an antique concept, but also one that has proven successful in the modern marketing and advertising world. Most will immediately recognize classic automotive brands such as Cougar, Mustang, Thunderbird and Impala. Mustang is one of the longest surviving brands of automobile history. The horse in full gallop with the wind-blowing mane is apt for the brand’s desire for freedom, the open road and the independence of the American spirit.
A Face to Your Brand
Animals do not work for you, either? Then try to imagine the ideal speaker for your brand. This could be anyone from an “everyone” to a well-known personality. Then imagine how this person would speak, dress, or present itself, and how these elements could appeal to your customers. Would you focus on networking and communication, or on individual creativity? Write down the personality traits of your speaker. Few brands have a better symbolic spokesman than Abraham Lincoln, whose striking bearded silhoutte is the forefront of the Lincoln Financial Group logo. After all, you would entrust your money to anyone who bears the name “Honest Abe”, right
No matter if you chose one or all of the above methods, you should have created a good list of brand properties at this point. These words help you to define your personal brand identity – an emotional fingerprint with which customers can immediately identify themselves.
3. DETERMINE YOUR OPTIMAL MARKETING MIX
Now that you have determined your personal brand identity and integrated the topic of sustainability into your daily business, we can now focus on marketing. The basic question in “Green Marketing” is: How can we use proven marketing tools to create good “green” ideas, concepts, projects and products? Starting point for this is the traditional marketing mix that consists of the four instruments Price, Product, Place and Promotion. We will work through these tools within the next steps, starting with product policy.
4. IDENTIFY YOUR PRODUCT POLICY
Product policy is the basis for the marketing mix and the other marketing instruments. It is distributed in three levels: customer benefit, product design and product service. At first, your products should be placed in the right light. Afterwards, the areas of design, packaging and quality are matched to your target group in order to achieve a consistent image.
In order to determine the right product policy for you, it is helpful to answer the following questions:
The Core Benefit: How Does My Product Help My Customers?
- What kind of customer needs do I want to fulfill with my product?
- Do I meet this need better than my competitors? If so, how?
Product Design: What Should My Product Look Like?
- How should my product be packaged?
- What kind of labeling do I use?
- Which packaging sizes do I choose?
- Are my products discriminating? If so, how can I prevent this?
- Is my product environmentally friendly?
- What is the design of my products?
- What is the quality of my products?
- Which characteristics are particularly important for my product?
- What is my brand name and what does it mean? Are there any property rights
The Product Service: What Additional Services Do I Offer?
- Do I have a special service for my customers (hotline etc)?
- Do my customers receive benefits in delivery (e.g., no shipping charges)
- What are the return periods?
- Is there a warranty period?
You should definitely check your entire product lifecycle in this step and make sure that it is fair with regard to ecological and social aspects. Sustainability in parts, makes no sense at this point and does not promote a clean appearance of your brand. The motto is “completely or not at all!“
5. BUILDING YOUR PRODUCT PRICES
Price policy is primarily about finding the optimal price for your product. Your own costs, strategic positioning and competition are important influencing factors for pricing. Therefore determine the price that is right for you step by step:
What Are My Prime Costs?
- What costs exist in my company
- How much do I need to earn per product?
- Is there a scope for discounts?
- What price are my customers willing to pay?
- What is my desired profit margin?
- What is my desired selling price? (prime cost + desired margin)
What Are The Prices of My Competitors’?
- What are the merchantable prices?
- Is my selling price realistic?
It is important that you first collect all arising expenses, to be able to determine your margin. Once you have done this, check your pricing on the market compared to your competitors. Also pay attention to the fact that your pricing is not misleading for your customers, and that you are not doing price discrimination
6. PLACE: DETERMINING YOUR SALES CHANNELS
The marketing tool place implies your distribution policy, you must decide how to bring your offer to the customer. Normally you can use an intermediary or you sell directly to the customer. For sustainable brands it is recommended to sell directly to your customers. This enables you to create a sustainable customer relationship and to be viewed as authentic. If you also want to integrate indirect sales in your sales channel, cooperate with retailers that have a focus on sustainability and do not use platforms like Amazon. But there is more than only one option for your sales. So the central question is where your target customers are buying and which sales channels are thus suitable for your brand.
Possible sales channels are: retail sails, market stalls, pop up shops, your own online shop, mail order, doorstep selling or factory outlet.
To identity which channel is right for you, you can use the following questions. It is also possible to combine more than one channel if this fits your target audience:
Where Are My Customers?
- Where do my customers normally sell their products? Online? Offline?
- Is my target group homogenous?
- Do I need to combine different sales channels to reach my target group?
- Where do my customers live? Big cities? Rural areas?
7. HOW TO PROMOTE YOUR BRAND
The promotion tool in the marketing mix stands for communication, whereby the communication policy in marketing includes all sales-promoting and image-forming measures. This step is very important for implementing a sustainable brand. Sustainability is equated by many consumers with renouncement. Successful sustainability communication must overcome this negative association. Especially companies with eco-socially responsible textiles and fashion in the assortment have to fight with some image problems. On the one hand, these types of textiles (in particular the eco-textiles) are associated with positive properties such as “without chemistry”, “natural”, “healthy” and “skin-compatible”. On the other hand, such products also have prejudices, such as aesthetic deficits in form and color as well as convenience disadvantages, such as rough and uncomfortable fabrics. To overcome those prejudices you have to focus on an open and transparent communication and ensure a good accessibility and a high response guarantee for your costumers.
There are a lot of different tools you can use in your communication. What is best for your brand always depends on your positioning, business goals and products. The main tools for sustainable brands are the following: public relations, product presentation, creating public awareness and online marketing. The following steps will help you to establish a communication policy:
- What current internal topics can I report regularly?
- Whom can I send press releases to? Media representatives? Blogger? Influencer
- What presentation concepts fit my brand?
- What events can I use to present my products? Eco-fair trade fairs? Fashion shows?
Creating Public Awareness
- How can I empower my customers and make them feel that they can make a change with their purchase decision?
- Are there any opportunities to appear as a speaker to my target audience?
- Can I participate in political work targeting my branch?
- Where does my customers get informed online?
- Where do my customers shop online?
- What social media channels does my customers use?
- What are the most famous influencers for my branch? How can I make them get involved?
Congratulations, now we have successfully worked through the basic topics of branding and marketing! This article, of course, has only dealt with the theoretical foundations of marketing. Before it comes to the practical use of marketing tools, it is very important that each brand has gone through these theoretical steps. Only those who have built a detailed theoretical marketing framework can also be successful in their practical implementation. Before you know what marketing measures are successful for your brand, you need to determine whom and what you want to achieve. For this reason, there will soon be a second, more practical contribution to this topic. I will show you how to develop a practical marketing plan based on these theoretical foundations and which marketing measures are particularly effective for sustainable brands.
SFW Marketing Manger & Regional Director of Germany
German blogger, digital nomad, wellness and adventure lover. A three-month long break in Asia transformed my mind. Since then I’m following my passion for health and wellness because I believe that it’s all about work-life balance.
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