There is not much left in the world that is not green, organic, and sustainable. If I want to be evil and don’t care for mother Earth, I’m really stuck with a pitiful selection of Earth-abusing stuff. When I was in New York the other week the apple was really greener then big. Everybody wants to be green.
But when things sound a little too good to be true, they usually are.
Let’s back things up a little: What’s the point of being green? Well, that depends on who you ask. The original intent is of course to save the Earth, stop global warming and so on. From the brand builders perspective, it’s about charging your brand with a dose of caring and responsibility so that the consumer can buy shares in your brand (that is, your products), thus appending the same caring and responsible aroma to his or her own personal brand (let’s face it, saving the world is just not incentive enough). This COULD be a really powerful synergy between brand and Earth, but as it turns out a lot of the green-branded eco friendly products are just not green. Fortune magazine just wrote a small but nicely put together little piece on this phenomena called greenwashing. Google that term for a little while if you feel like getting depressed.
The problem with greenwashing is that we’re really watering down the brand of green. When things REALLY are green and good for the Earth, we just won’t be able to tell because they look just like the greenwashed products. And when we won’t be able to tell, we can’t make choices that are good for the environment, and BOOM – we’re back where we started.
But I don’t believe that all is lost. Sure, green will turn out to be just a fad (that’s a promise), but that’s really not so strange. Green is not owned by anybody, and when it’s not owned, people don’t care if it get’s scratched more than they do about a rental car. Instead we’ll start seeing a lot more proprietary brands attaching themselves to believable statements that they will have to prove on an ongoing basis. Whole Foods is an early example of this where only products that are NON-organic are marked as such. Organic is the default. And if Whole Foods turn out to be greenwashers, they really have something to loose. Such as their entire brand value. The key for them will be to take real action that is hard to copy. They need to DO things, not just say them. Marketing as a service (MAAS) and/or marketing as a product (MAAP) is the way to go here. Let your actions speak. I guess that’s true for all of us.