Apart from turning off the lights and taking a selfie with a flashlight or candle to prove it, what is your team planning to do for Earth Day in 2021?
Is it something your marketing team marks as just another useful calendar event (albeit a worthy one unlike, say, White Chocolate Cheesecake Day – March 6th if you’re wondering), that gives you an opportunity to get some kudos for your brand? Or is every day Earth day for your brand?
Because if it’s the former it really should be the latter.
Why Every Day must be Earth Day for Brands
A new study has found that just 3% of the world’s ecosystems remain ecological intact with healthy populations of all original animals and undisturbed habitat. Then there’s the sobering fact that if corporations had to pay for the natural resources they consume, none would be profitable. And we are all well aware of the foolhardy destruction of the rainforest, our ancient forests, and even the soil beneath our feet.
Basically, this whole ‘human beings ruling the world‘ thing is not going well.
The events of 2020 forced everyone to slow down and reassess the impact of things we have been taking for granted, and as a result gave us clearer, more 20:20 vision. And what we saw is that we are not just at the fork in the road, but progressing down the wrong junction at speed. That we urgently need to work together to fix the world’s problems before it’s too late, as highlighted by Christian Sarkar, founder of the Wicked 7 project, in this diagram and on his blog.
Oblivion in 30 years
And that oblivion is not in the far far away future, not even ‘by the end of the century’. All the most up to date reputable research is saying we will likely get to the point of no return in the next 20-30 years unless we do a lot of very serious, coordinated stuff right now.
Don’t know about you but that’s a helluva lot sooner than I was expecting and it was a wakeup call for me in 2020 as I realised that there would soon be a point where it wouldn’t matter one iota what we did with The Media Marketing Co or how we helped other people’s brands if there wasn’t going to be a world for them to exist in.
It’s overwhelming isn’t it? And as a small or medium business you are probably thinking, but what can I do? I don’t have the resources of say, a Unilever for example, didn’t I read that most big companies are now net zero, and anyway isn’t this something governments should be tackling? And why isn’t the UN sorting it out?
Well yes. And no.
The thing is it’s got to a point where it’s going to take every single one of us taking action (not just paying lip service on Earth Day) and working together to stop this runaway juggernaut. To get us – and the rest of the living creatures on this planet we call home – back to safety and on the right track. These considerations should not just be for us as individuals, either, but as businesses too. Because as companies we have more power, reach, impact and influence than most individuals do on their own, plus we are generally responsible for managing far more resources and processes than any single household.
So I wondered why – as brands – we just didn’t act. And then I wanted to know what happened when we did.
I started to look at how I could square the circle to help brands do good by being a good business, and it was remarkable. It turns out that every little helps, and by embedding Social Goodness in your brand DNA and your company processes (yes, every single one of them) you will benefit your brand and company in a myriad of ways, including increasing your profitability, as I cover in huge amounts of case studies in my book, Social Goodness.
I will just give you tl:dr headlines here or else this article will get ridiculously long.
Why Social Goodness is good Business
Shorts I know, but trust me I could write a whole book on this (and actually did). In the meantime, here’s the skinny. Good business is fundamentally good business because:
• Makes your business more profitable. Which means that the virtuous circle can continue, you can invest more into your business, staff, community, neighbourhood – and in to saving the world.
• It improves staff morale and productivity.
• Enhances your reputation, which attracts better staff, clients and suppliers, and additional unpaid-for coverage and engagement.
• Protects you from a social media crisis. See below for why.
• Attracts the smart money – investment in ethical companies topped $1 billion in Q2 2020 and just keeps growing.
• Saves the planet and society – seems ridiculous doesn’t it? But if every business made sure that everything that could be done in a good sustainable ethical way, was, then the change would be nothing short of miraculous.
• Has the ability to make social media GOOD – if we ALL stopped advertising with tech & media outlets that fund and enable hate, such as Facebook and the Daily Mail, but also on Google, we would force a change to their advertising playbook. The way the algorithms are set up (especially Facebook’s) means that they have created biased very targeted silos, which foster hate as well as enabling malpractices. Stopping this would allow us to tackle problems that are undermining democracy and society, such as social bad and fake news, as seen in Australia earlier this year.
In today’s society everything a business does is transparent, which means anyone can find out anything about a business if they want to. And they often – and increasingly – do if there is any feeling of mistrust about what a business is posting online, which is when a social media crisis can whip up out of nowhere. Businesses that invest in ethical practice can, as mentioned above, safeguard themselves from social media crises and reputation shredding because they are ‘clean’ and admirable. And what that means for the marketing team is that they are not risking being accused of green washing or bandwaggoning every time they want to support a campaign or cause, or just do something good.
It also means they can then talk about the good stuff the company is doing, which is also great for attracting more clients as well as for SEO, because that’s often what people are searching for. Like ethical (lab made) diamonds, for example, as one of our lovely clients, Wyatt Jewellery, found out to their delight.
And I know it’s obvious but I’ll say it anyway. Ethical and sustainable considerations should inform everything you do as a business, from that lovely lunch you order (is it organic?), your office supplies (recycled? recyclable?), and your products and merchandise (are they sustainable and ethical?).
Recently – for Social Goodness, in fact – we wanted to source ethical, sustainable merchandise to show off the beautiful branding and add to the VIP orders with the signed copies of the book. Our choice was a BCorp company, Fluid Branding, who specialise in supplying merchandise properly. We couldn’t have been more pleased with the service and the two products we choose, both of which were sustainably produced. Which is exactly what we expected from a BCorp company, hence why we choose them. See what happened there? And why it matters?
What is heartening is that the stories about brands stepping up are coming in thick and fast, thank goodness. It gives me hope on this Earth Day.
While we all know about Patagonia (another BCorp company) and their sustainability and their self-imposed Earth tax, increasing numbers of CEOs are finding their superhero capes and stepping up to make positive changes – and finding it really pays off for them. Recent examples include Adidas introducing the first-ever shoes made of mushroom leather; Beam crowdfunding career opportunities for homeless people; Unilever making Dove packaging sustainable; and fashion brand Allbirds giving away their carbon footprint information on their labelling so everyone is informed.
Time to Walk the Talk
Take action, do something, don’t just sit on your hands and pretend it’s not relevant to you, or think that you don’t matter or are ineffectual. If you are feeling at a loss, I included a comprehensive check list at the end of Social Goodness you can work your way through, or get in touch with me about Social Goodness consultancy work and we will sort it. You can also join the Better Brands Movement and BCorps, stop funding hate and fake news with your advertising as well as pitch in to help us with the Wicked7 project, something I am very proud to be part of even though I wish it wasn’t necessary.
The upshot is that embedding Social Goodness in your business equals creating a sustainable circular economy, but with knobs on, and is ultimately one of the main ways we will create a chance to turn round and make the leap towards survival – and it might even help get us to Utopia.
Time to find your superhero cape and step up… the world needs you.