Dharini Mishra, Global Head of Brand, Suzlon Group highlights the seven new rules of survival for green brands and their marketers.
Be real: We live and work in the real world. Why then should our brand premises be based in Utopia? We seek answers to challenges that exist and work in our current environment. If the premise is improbable and the promise fantastical, it will fall flat when tested in the real world. Our basic touchstone for Pure Air Lovers Society (PALS) was to accept the constraints of today’s times and define the needs of the consumers in the larger context and then fit your green proposition within it. It might be improbable to expect everyone to completely negate their paper usage till the basic structure of our socio-economic world changed. However, what would work is to offer options of eco-friendly paper, help recycle the same and promote practical yet judicious ways of reducing paper usage.
Keep it simple and fun: No one has the time or bandwidth to understand complex processes and look for complicated applications. Green as a concept can be as simple or complex as we want it to be. A lot of green initiatives are burdened with a sense of doom and a crying need to shock or scare. Keeping it simple and fun is the key to making it applicable. In PALS we have consciously stayed away from foreboding, grim conversations and complex calculations. The entire campaign is positive and fun and actually creates a sense of being ‘cool’ if you are a PAL.
Do not preach: In the digital world today access to knowledge is a click away. People do not look at brands to get preached to, if they wanted lectures they would go back to college and then again skip the lectures and escape to the cafeteria. As we do at PALS, give information in a simple, direct manner with a clear objective to engage and intrigue only. Then empower them with tools that will actually help them put their intent to action. Action versus preaching has been our edge for PALS.
Make green integral to your business: A lot of brands think of green branding as a tool to garner immediate goodwill. With an increasingly sophisticated audience, however, this has evolved from simply positioning, to brands needing to offer something tangible and being aligned to green practices, products or philosophies. For example, Suzlon has an inherent green business proposition. For brands that are not similarly blessed, explore how you can make green more integral to your actual business offering and philosophy and be doubly sure to communicate that before launching into a green initiative.
Define your shade of green: With so much green branding all around, it is critical for each brand to define their shade of green, or there is a serious risk of losing your identity and merging into the landscape.
The Suzlon shade of green is the ‘teal green’ which is clearly defined as a green business for prosperity and sustainable development. Brands need to define their niche in the green space and clearly articulate the positioning, service/product or philosophy that they wish to address.
Consumers will respond more favourably if they are clear on what you stand for and what they should expect from you, rather than when they are looking at a huge amorphous spectrum of possibilities.
Invest in children and the youth: When we created ‘Pure Air Lovers Society’ we were clear that we will have to break out of our regular business stakeholder group and reach out to a larger yet younger audience.
Good green branding is about investing in the future of the planet and that naturally veers towards the youth. Not only will you find enthusiastic audiences for long term brand loyalty but also true ambassadors who can change their habits faster and learn better.
PALS has got maximum response from the youth and children of this country and that is the reason why we are launching our school and youth connect programs soon to create authentic converts. And no worries, the benefit or influence to your core business audiences will be sure to follow.
Create participation: Green branding works best when it is participative. “Pure Air Lovers Society” was created with a single-minded purpose of creating a community of like-minded citizens who would work towards cleaner air.
It is critical to be owned by the people and allow them to steer conversations, initiate actions, define goals and even advice each other and the campaign on future roadmaps.
It is important to take the audiences with you on the journey else it may turn out to be a very lonely one for the brand.
(Dharini Mishra, Global Head of Brand, Suzlon Group.)