Touting your brand’s sustainability efforts makes waves (and bucks) in the marketing world. Push your brand forward by ethically showing off your sustainability efforts.
Over the past few years, “sustainability” has become one of the many buzzwords thrown around the internet. Influencers, brands, and companies–from SMEs to corporations–use the term throughout so many of their creative efforts.
But, why is this movement happening? Is it simply a trend? Something to attract more customers? Or will sustainability make a solid mark in business?
People shop with, subscribe to, and sign up for brands whose mission aligns with their own. To make this decision-making process easier, brands convey their mission through visuals. Fancy taglines are not enough.
Brands Must Be People- and Planet-First
In business, “sustainability” has moved from simply referring to the company’s environmental impact. Now, they must tout their efforts on social issues. These include climate change, human rights issues, gender inequality, racial injustice, and fair working conditions.
Of course, environmental care remains at the top of the list.
Sustainability plays a unique and creative role in business as companies now understand how it can propel them toward success. And, they’re investing more in strategies aligned with it.
They get that consumers are drawn to products from brands that don’t simply throw in “sustainable imagery,” but incorporate authentic visuals that are creative and that inspire movement.
It’s about taking action and encouraging others to do the same.
Let’s take note at how Patagonia encourages repairing their products and has dedicated tons of content for this. Parker and Clay not only use eco-friendly materials, they also provide jobs in disadvantaged towns in Ethiopia. And, don’t forget the Green Company Performance Analysis by Adidas.
All of these translate to a higher demand for realistic and diverse sustainability imagery. Photographers, designers, and folks in the visual field are faced with the challenge of capturing sustainability efforts in realistic and representational ways.
Less Trend, More Preference
Sustainability has gone past the “trend” mark. Looking at consumers’ shopping habits, it has become a preference. It is leading brands to a more eco-friendly path. More than that, it forces companies to question their relationships with the planet and see how their influence affects social issues.
According to Shutterstock’s Consumer Pack Goods Report:
- 72% of people buy more environmentally friendly products now compared to five years ago
- 34% are willing to pay more for a sustainable product
It’s safe to claim that today, consumers have the power to push companies to make massive changes in favor of the environment. It is this power that should be considered a huge influence as to why brands are leaning closer toward eco-friendly imagery.
Let’s face it, people talk. And social media has become an open stage for conversations surrounding branding and marketing, sustainability, and company responsibility.
We still love how Madwell shared on Instagram their sustainability goals and commitments. Their audience responded well.
Ocean Bottle sought help from influencers for their #econfession campaign. And, of course, TikTok users followed suit.
These prove that sustainability has become part of every consumer’s specs for scouting brands to shop from.
Keep Sustainability Front-of-Mind in Marketing Campaigns
The question now is: How can brands lean towards authentic sustainable images? How can they make their advertising and marketing efforts more in-line with sustainability without being clichéd, boring—or worse—irrelevant?
Focus on Realistic Visuals
Consumers can spot clichéd images in a heartbeat. Fresh green grass, hands holding a tiny plant in soil, people looking at a beautiful sunset—these get the point across but, by this point, they’re overused.
Whether you’re outsourcing your visuals from stock photography sites or your company has an in-house photographer, always put authenticity and inclusivity front and center. This applies to images that include your product and photos that are more evergreen.
Incorporate Company Transparency
There are many creative ways to incorporate company transparency. Considering the stats from Shutterstock’s Consumer Pack Goods Report, it’s clear that communicating this value is vital.
Before brainstorming your next campaign, ask yourself and your team:
- How is your brand making an effort to become more sustainable?
- Why are you making this move?
- How much has changed?
Company transparency matters as much as product quality does. The more transparent you are, the easier it will be to build authentic relationships with your consumers.
In simpler terms, they will keep coming back because they know your brand is rooted in honesty.
Be Mindful of Greenwashing
Greenwashing is when a company focuses its efforts and finances more on marketing, than on actual efforts to become a sustainable brand. Clearly, this is misleading and unethical.
As brands and companies make the shift toward becoming more sustainable, their marketing, sales, and advertising efforts must tell this story, without simply paying sustainability lip service.
The Future Is Eco-Friendly
A good photo tells a story. Good marketing means solid storytelling. There’s a lot that goes into a company’s success and there’s no magic formula for it. While brands have the same goal—to increase profit—they have different challenges when weaving their branding into sustainable imagery.
Being different, experimenting, and thinking outside the box is the norm. But one thing’s for sure—sustainability is here to stay. The call for more eco-friendly products is only getting louder. More and more consumers and advocacy groups are holding irresponsible companies to account.
The only way to stand out is to embrace your company’s unique identity and incorporate sustainability as ethically as you can.
Brands are encouraged to use visuals that are created with inclusivity and authenticity in mind. Images must be realistic and not scripted. Photos need to tell a story.
Environmental sustainability is now so much more than just a creative expression—it’s a social movement and way of life.
License this cover image via Ronnachai Palas.