Rick Ridgeway of Patagonia on Branding, Sustainability and Our Future
The Number One Survival Tip For Brands: What You Make Is Who You Are
July 20, 2015
As more and more brands are recognizing the benefits of joining the sustainability conversation happening around the world, a critical first step is to look inwardly at your products or services before sharing externally purpose-driven positioning and communications. At the core, what you sell or offer is the most the fundamental representation and expression of who you are as a brand. By aligning what you make with who your brand is (or aspires to become), you ensure that your offering is authentically imprinted with the same social and/or environmental intentions and position you seek to attain.
Whether you’re in the toy manufacturing space or the food industry, brands must seize opportunities to better others and the planet, and in turn, their own bottom line. Here we explore the advances Lego Group and Jamie Oliver are pushing forward in their respective industries and the learnings for brands seeking to secure leadership in your own space.
Lego Group, the world’s largest toy company, announced in June that it aims to replace the plastic used in its products with sustainable materials by 2030. The company has allocated a $1 billion investment to achieve this goal through research, development and implementation of new raw materials for its products as well as packaging. This investment led the creation of the LEGO Sustainable Materials Centre at the Group’s headquarters in Denmark, with more than 100 specialists dedicated to working on this ambitious goal over the coming years. By getting investing in sustainability for the long haul, LEGO is on-track to securing its position in the future.
World-renowned chef and health food advocate, Jamie Oliver boldly challenged brands (and their ad agencies) to get authentic and honest about what they sell. On a panel at Cannes, Oliver urged brands to avoid communication ploys that reposition inherently unhealthy snacks as good options in favor of honesty and clarity – especially when it comes to kids. Oliver is long known for his activist efforts to reduce the child obesity epidemic and the US and UK, and this year he identifies how the risks of not acting have gotten even higher. As Oliver stated at Cannes, “Last year was the first moment in time when more people died from eating too much of the wrong [food] than not having access to food. This is a new thing, and it’s a bad thing.” His solution not only involves education and access to healthy food, but brands dedicating themselves as a force for positive change in re-aligning the industry as one for good.
What core social or environmental issues are at play in the current and future marketplaces of your brand that necessitate addressing or present an opportunity for cultural leadership?
Here are a few ways to determine which areas or issues to focus on:
- Evaluate your consumer’s current behavior, interests and beliefs and how these will change in the future.
- Investigate past trends on how your industry has evolved alongside adjacent industries which have evolved further in the sustainability space to predict future movements.
- Determine where short and long-term resources should be invested to be in alignment with both your brand and business strategy.
Once you have identified the core sustainability issues your brand would like, and is able, to engage in, start mapping out a strategy where value can be derived over the coming one, five, ten and fifty years. Today’s brands that contribute to creating a sustainable future have the foresight and sustainability capacity themselves to withstand an ever-changing consumer marketplace.