When To Promote Your Brand’s Green Credentials… And When Not To

A blog from Network members OggaDoon.

Even before COP26 whipped companies into a transparency frenzy, the quietly-agreed ‘cool’ thing for brands to be doing was shouting about how green they were. It made sense: consumers are turning their backs on harmful companies in favour of more sustainable alternatives. From food to cars to washing detergent, everything was going green.

So it was no surprise that more brands wanted to jump on the bandwagon… Even if they couldn’t really live up to their green claims. If you know your customers are about to jump ship to a competitor, you’re going to do what you have to do to keep them, right? And so many brands – though we won’t name names right here – did as much or as little as they could to convince their audience that they, the corporation, shared the moral values of we, the people.

But one thing worse for brands than a lack of transparency? Accusations of greenwashing.

How to avoid greenwashing

You’ve probably seen plenty of corporations slapping green logos and slogans all over their products in the past few years. For example, Coca-Cola’s green-labelled ‘Life’ Cola and BP’s dubious hints that it cares about climate change, despite being one of the world’s largest petroleum companies.

More recently, alternative milk company Oatly was the subject of over 100 complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority, sent by disgruntled members of the public who had noticed the brand couldn’t back up some of the claims made in their advertising. The advert quoted stats about the environmental impact of Oatly products compared to the dairy industry, which in fact only applied to one specific Oatly product in relation to one specific type of dairy milk. The complaints were upheld, the advert was banned, and Oatly’s green reputation has soured.

The takeaway? It’s not to be quiet about your green achievements. In fact, if you can truly back your sustainability claims, then shout about them loudly and proudly. But if you can’t, be aware. You’re preaching to a scrupulous and internet-savvy generation of consumers, and your half-baked assertions around the sustainability they’re prioritising in their purchasing decisions isn’t going to cut it. In fact, it’s only likely to be detrimental to your business.

So what can you do instead?

Nobody is expecting your brand to be the greenest out there. So rather than exaggerating or simply inventing facts and stats, focus on the positives. It’s likely that your brand does have at least one sustainable angle that can be shared with your customers. And if you’re still not convinced, just keep quiet. Trust us, sometimes it’s better to say nothing at all.

Want advice on how to represent your brand’s green credentials? Get in touch with OggaDoon’s team of experts today.

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