The call for sustainable brand messaging is stronger than ever. If you’re trying to communicate a product or service that champions the natural world and puts the consumer first, it’s vital that you nail that messaging.
One of the biggest pitfalls of many sustainable brands – which for all intents and purposes do have a great product/service to sell – is the tendency towards ‘greenwashing’. This can kill an otherwise promising campaign before it’s fully taken flight.
In this blog, we’ll shine some light on what greenwashing is and give you practical ways to avoid it in your own marketing and PR campaigns.
What is greenwashing in marketing?
Greenwashing refers to the practice of making misleading or exaggerated claims about a company’s environmental practices or products. It’s the antithesis of the transparency and honesty consumers expect from sustainable brands; now, consumers are savvier than ever.
Greenwashing can damage a company’s reputation and erode consumer trust, which can ultimately harm the perception of a given brand.
5 tips to avoid greenwashing
Putting together a campaign for a sustainable brand? Consider these tips to keep things on the right side of the line.
1. Be transparent
When it doubt, always keep it real. Don’t make unsubstantiated or exaggerated claims about your brand in a bid to appear more sustainable than you are; consumers see through this every time.
Instead, be honest about the journey you’re on. No brand is perfect, and your audience is far more likely to get invested in your brand if they see that human element of working towards change, rather than already being the finished article.
In cases where you have gone above and beyond, back up your claims with evidence; show rather than tell.
2. Avoid vague language and jargon
Phrases like “eco-friendly” or “green” are all well and good on the surface, but they can also mask or colour the truth. Instead of broad terms that highlight your brand’s sustainability, be specific about the environmental benefits of your products and services and use quantifiable metrics when possible. A great way of doing this is by releasing an annual carbon report or even just showcasing some quickfire stats about the edge your sustainable mission gives you as a business.
3. Consider the entire lifecycle of your products
Every successful sustainable marketing or PR campaign is multifaceted. Don’t just focus on one aspect of your sustainability, such as the use of recycled materials. Consider the entire lifecycle of your products, from the raw materials to disposal, and communicate your efforts to reduce environmental impact at each stage. This ties into transparency, and it’s a great way of giving your products some personality for consumers to become invested in.
4. Don’t overstate the significance of small steps
While every effort to reduce environmental impact is important, try to avoid making small changes sound like major accomplishments. Be realistic about the impact of your sustainability initiatives, and don’t overstate their significance. Humility wins the day; every brand is a journey. That’s exactly what you’re inviting your audience into – it’s difficult to invest in a brand that claims to already be perfect.
5. Obtain and demonstrate your third-party certifications
If you want to demonstrate your commitment to sustainability, consider obtaining third-party certifications, such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification for sustainable forestry practices. B Corp Certification is another major one that most modern consumers are aware of and even look for, so it can be a great one to have in your arsenal.
We wouldn’t recommend blazoning certifications across every surface of your campaign, but they’re a great one to list for the consumers already looking for them.
Sustainable PR at Wild Card
Sustainable businesses need to communicate their environmental practices and commitments to their customers in a transparent and honest way.
At Wild Card PR, we’re passionate about not only creating campaigns for sustainable businesses that help them stand out (such as Circular&Co And Miracle-Gro) but being a force of change in our own industry, too. That’s why we’re so proud to be a B-Corp accredited business, with a real focus on people, planet & profit. If you’d like to find out more about us and what we do, we’d love to chat – get in touch today.