I’d like to pose a question: could ethics play a key part in your branding? And if so, how?
Put it this way - in a world where consumers are becoming increasingly aware of how their buying habits affect the planet, surely it is only a matter of time before we all must declare how ethical our practices are?
Despite this, business owners can be put off stating their ethical values because it all feels too political, too 'heavy', or, they are worried that they won’t get it right. Or maybe, like me, you like the idea of being political, but then trip over yourself trying to explain the whos, whats and whys.
Forbes online stated that:
“An ethical brand identity isn’t a casual one-time mention that you’re interested in a specific cause. This needs to be truly integrated into your identity, manifesting itself in your company name, logo, and various marketing materials.”
So this is not something to take lightly, it’s a case of ‘work out what you stand for and then stick with it’. However, if done properly, ethical branding is extremely powerful. There are many parents and carers who buy from brands primarily because they are ethical. It is a huge selling point for eco-conscious parents and therefore needs to be considered carefully.
Not only can ethics be part of a company brand, but ethical purchasing can be part of the consumer's identity. Whether we talk about it or not, a lot of people are worried about the state of the planet and the future of our children. If the businesses that we buy from help a greater cause, it lightens our emotional burden. We feel a little better, as though we have done something. Consumer habits are one of the ways that we can reduce the impact we have on the planet, so this is a powerful way of engaging with customers.
So how can a ethics become part of your brand?
To answer this we have to look at companies that have done a good job on this front. These companies are strongly political, but their brand is not overwhelming. The whole brand is so powerfully positive, colourful, it is quite the opposite.
A great example of a successful ethical brand is Frugi. This company knows their audience very well. They know what they want to hear, see and feel. From looking at their website, and those of many other ethical companies in this sector, we can learn lessons in how to use ethical branding successfully.
Here are my top tips for using ethical branding in the parenting and education sector:
Pick one or two ethical causes and stick to them.
Give the reader the sense that you are already tacking the problem and all they have to do is buy from you to help.
Counteract the seriousness of the political issues with bright, colourful, positive language and imagery.
Show images of the people or charities that you are helping, but show them thriving thanks to the support that you are giving. Keep it positive and hopeful. Positive, bright images really are key.
Your own company must be grass-roots, humble and earthy, talk about where your company comes from, how it was made, show that the company's origins are ethical and tie in with the causes that it supports.
Make it easy to help the ethical causes, 'just buy', 'one click', 'we do it for you'.
Take away the hopelessness of the issues with positive and upbeat language.
"Find out how every little thing you buy from Frugi is making a BIG change..."
So ethics is extremely helpful not only for promoting a business but also for creating a powerful brand identity. And most importantly, the more these brands become desirable and sought-after the better good we can do for our planet.
How do you use ethics in your business? Is it an important part of your branding?
Let me know in the comments. :-)