Earth Day shows CSR is not optional; brands must add to a healthier planet.

For a long time already, consumers have been asking for more sustainable products and services as everyone becomes increasingly aware of the need to take better care of our planet. As part of their CSR programmes, some brands have responded with sustainable goals, carbon off-setting initiatives like planting trees, and ‘green’ product line extensions. Today, we even have quite a few brands that were created for the sole purpose of building a more sustainable future – and the people love it.

For the brands that still haven’t tuned into this: your time is running out.

Earth Day 2020 is led by people, supported by brands

Earth Day is about celebrating the public consciousness about the state of our planet. The first Earth Day was in 1970, and since then every year on April 22 we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of the modern environmental movement. In the last 50 years, Earth Day has grown to include more people from all over the world, to kids’ classrooms singing “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”, to brands pitching in and doing the right thing.

A quick view in our network of brands showed us that luxury fashion brand Moncler shared its commitments to fighting what they view as the biggest challenge the world faces today, climate change. Acknowledging sustainability goals have no final destination but are rather ongoing processes, they reminded everyone of their pledge to be carbon neutral on its own operational sites by 2021 and rely solely on 100% renewable energy worldwide by 2023.

Aspart of their ongoing commitment to sustainability, Nike’s shipping boxes produce half as much carbon as traditional boxes. Customers can scan the box with their phone which renders a 3D landscape using AR, visualising the production process. It’s a powerful way for Nike to tell their story and draw customers into their world.

Plant-based products also continue to secure a bigger piece of the pie, with Beyond Meat (plant-based beef) now available on the menu at Starbucks in China next to Omnipork (plant-based pork) and Oatly (plant-based milk). Beyond Meat uses 99% less water, 93% less land, and produces 90% fewer greenhouse gases than traditional beef burgers. Beyond Meat and the other brands like it don’t make sustainability commitments, they are sustainability commitments.

EarthDay is more than a theme that returns each year, it’s a movement led by people.As a brand, you need to position yourself as an enabler that helps people join that movement and give them the means and choices to contribute to a healthier planet.

‍What this means for your brand

There’s no doubt that your brand needs to take part in creating a more sustainable future, but the question is ‘how’. For some, it may be a resource-based or emission-based goal like Moncler and Nike. For others, creating green alternatives like Beyond Meat has done is the way forward. If neither of these two options apply to the nature of your business, consider that Starbucks is satisfying the same need through strategic partnerships – this is an option for every brand.

The key difference between an initiative that’s satisfactory and one that makes people fall in love with your brand, is authenticity. Any commitment made or action taken towards a sustainable future is welcome. But when it’s in line with your brand’s core purpose and mission, it’s authentic. Your customers will know and feel the difference. Do what you’re best at and known for, but change the focus. Direct your brand power towards building a healthier planet, and you’ll capture attention and solidify your brand’s relationship with your community.

If you haven’t yet defined your brand’s core purpose and mission, or you feel the need to refine it, now is the time to invest in your brand development. The shift in consumer expectations is swift, and you need the internal compass to guide your brand and meet the challenges head-on.

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