Image of the planet - Build a responsible brand with Osmil

How to be a responsible brand

Introduction

I’m writing this article from Guildford (near London) on what is currently the UK’s hottest day on record! The temperature outside clocked 44°C on our thermometer – almost ten degrees hotter than the kids bathwater – and I can tell you, it’s not something as Brits we’re used to dealing with.

While I sit here in the heat feeling pretty uncomfortable, the global warming crisis is at the forefront of my mind. It’s being felt today by everyone in the UK, and it will continue to be a real problem for everyone and everything living on this planet.

I wrote this article because I want to provide some background to the subject and try to help businesses understand what changes they can make to have the best impact on the environment. Like Tesco used to say; ‘every little helps’. 

What can we do as a brand?

It is now widely accepted that each of us has a role to play in reducing emissions to limit global warming and save the planet from irreparable damage. It sounds drastic, and it is a life-changing situation that’s relentlessly creeping upon us, and we’re all part of it. There are steps that can be made in order to make a positive difference for the greater good. However, Cornetto’s can’t help us. 

Through osmil™, I work with small businesses and start-ups to help companies make a real impact through outstanding branding. In this article I’m not addressing the individual, I’m talking to business owners who are responsible and strategically positioned to put steps in place that will reduce the environmental impact of their company.

If that’s you, keep reading and we’ll learn what opportunities could affect your bottom line, how this might change your customers perception of you as a brand, and what actions you can take on behalf of your business to be part of the solution. Let’s get into it. 👊 

The impending doooom.

Why is the climate changing and what's a Carbon Footprint?

Your Carbon Footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) that your business emits into the world.

First things first. Let’s read into the problem for a moment.

The evidence is clear: the main cause of climate change is the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal). When these are burned, fossil fuels release carbon dioxide into the air. This is the biggest cause of global warming but there are two other significant causes.

What are the main causes of carbon emissions?

Burning fossil fuels

Fossil fuels contain carbon dioxide. When we take these out of the land and burn them, we release it into the air. (You already know this)

Deforestation

Forests have the important global role of removing and storing carbon dioxide. Cutting down trees means that carbon dioxide builds up since there are no trees to absorb it.

Agriculture

Growing crops and rearing animals for food releases gases into the air. Animals produce methane, which is 30 times worse than carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. Fertilisers also have a terrible impact.

The positives

Can a sustainable approach be good for business?

The short answer is ‘Yes. Without a doubt’. Your customers will thank you. Especially younger people who tend to feel more effected by climate change and hold older generations accountable for the current state of the planet.

75 percent of Millennials are eco-conscious to the point of changing their buying habits to favour more planet-friendly products.

– Neilsen

Research also states that a third of consumers would be willing to pay an average of 25% more for greener alternatives to their current purchases if they had the choice. (consultancy.uk) And it’s safe to say that this statistic from 2021 will increase as the planet shows us through more life-changing events as times goes on.

A common misconception is that going green can stunt your business growth. However, putting steps in place to change your operations to benefit the environment requires you to innovate and really think about your products and services. 

When we stop and think, we tend to solve more problems than we set out to solve. So it can be a really positive exercise for any business.

Taking this time to review your operation and evaluate whether you really need to attend the US conference twice a year, or whether it’s time to replace your entire fleet with more sustainable alternatives is a great place to start. Often it’s the day-to-day events that can work together to have a combined positive impact on your carbon footprint. Let’s just explain what that means for a moment.

Your actions.

Want to reduce the carbon footprint for your business and show your customers that you’re committed to their future? Doesn’t everyone? Let’s find out how to get involved and make a positive difference with six actions and six benefits.

1. Reduce travel

If you can burn less fuel and consume less energy, you’re making a difference. Remote conferences and even reaching out on the old blower will have far less impact than a drive or a flight. Plus, trousers are optional.

2. Improve sourcing

Partnering with suppliers that are local to your business can do wonders for your brand image, and it’s always good to support your local community. Local customers appreciate a business that shops and operates close by.

3. Consume less

If you can reduce waste by using less and disposing of less, then you’re on the right track. Are your resources easily recycled or can that be improved? We’re talking paper cups, upcycled furniture and better glazing. Make it easy for staff to do their part.

4. Get B-Corp Certified

Joining the B Corp community and becoming a Certified B Company involves looking at different areas of your business such as supply chain, your employment rights and your carbon footprint. It’s a positive movement and sets a standard for businesses to follow. Check out B-Corp.

5. Offset the rest

You can improve your carbon footprint by supporting sustainable reforestation projects which is a great option at any point in your journey. It’s also really easy to do through sites like the Rainforest Alliance, but it should not be used to replace everything else. That’s called greenwashing and customers/social media despise a dishonest brand.

6. Measure everything

The UK plans to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050, so this should be one of your business’s goals too. There are carbon calculators online and businesses there to help like TBL Services who are a valued client we regularly support.

Singing the benefits

When you’ve taken steps to be more in tune with our environment and your responsibilities as a business, there are of course benefits that can be enjoyed. Not only will your company be directly contributing to the solution, your efforts could also win the hearts and minds of new customers who share your values. Let’s look at the benefits of your actions.

1

Attract a younger audience

People who are more in tune with the climate crisis are becoming very conscious of the efforts businesses are taking to contribute to the solution. This trend is being spearheaded by the younger generation who can make their feelings known by selecting where to shop based on what’s important to them. If the nature of your business appeals to a younger audience, now is the best time to put some clear actions in place and shout about it from the rooftops. If businesses shout, people will listen.

2

Become their brand of choice

Local shoppers love to know that their choices are contributing positive energy back to their community. Real, significant actions that make a difference to your carbon footprint will also encourage other businesses to do the same when they realise that their customers value and are willing to help our environment as a byproduct of their actions. Businesses have a huge role to play here, and people – including myself – should expect them to lead the way.

3

Spend less on sourcing

Businesses who work with local suppliers should be proud to support our country and economy over others. Sourcing locally is a choice we all have and I would hope to think that one of the primary reasons why Brexit went ahead was so that the British people come to rely less on imported stuff. Buying British may not always be your cheapest option, but British-made products are generally very high quality and it’s worth remembering that your clients’ primary motivation is rarely based solely on price. By supporting your local community and our Great British economy, you’re inviting customers to be part of something bigger than what you’re selling. Get this message across to them and it will resonate.

4

Enjoy working remotely

If you’re travelling less and you love back-to-back zoom calls, ditch the pants. When your personal brand begins at your waistline, embrace the freedom. Seriously though, try to limit meeting time and conserve power where you can. If you’re not using the monitor, turn it off, along with the lamp. Be conscious that every action you take has an impact. Consuming less will cost you less. Travelling less will cost the planet less and also give you back some valuable commuting time to spend putting your plans in place to become more sustainable.

5

Avoid high fuel prices

Less driving consumes less fuel. It’s simple math. With fuel prices sitting at the highest they have ever been, now could be the time to do something. If you wanted to take things up a notch and have something pretty significant to add to your brand image, move your energy supplier to a sustainably sourced one, get some charging points installed at your employees homes and try switching your whole fleet to electric vehicles. Solar power is a great source of energy that will help get us away from the smelly stuff. 

6

Be a role model

Businesses like Patagonia have become icons in the sustainable clothing sector. Their tagline “A Love of Wild and Beautiful Places Demands Participation in the Fight to Save Them.” – They have become the poster-child for what their customers enjoy and value. Businesses who build these values into the ethos of their brand are set to become pioneers. At these early stages of climate awareness, there are big opportunities for more companies to lead the way through sustainable innovation. Building planet-friendly values into your daily operations and brand will bring benefits.

THE FINAL WORD

Research shows that by proving that you are a more sustainably conscious business, your customers will thank you. They will be prepared to spend more with you and support your brand above others.

You're also doing the right thing, and that should feel good. Let's get in tune!

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