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  • Posted by: Alex Murray on Wednesday, August 1 2012 09:54 AM | Comments (0)


    Sustainability is not just good business, it is smart business. Leading companies recognize this, but do they achieve the best possible results for both the planet and their brand?

    Traditionally, environmental practices have been viewed as a way to increase profitability – to reduce material usage, for example, or improve energy efficiency. Mitigating risk has also pushed sustainability up on the corporate agenda. For global enterprises this could involve anticipating regulatory changes or ensuring the long-term viability of production facilities. More recently it has become clear that green thinking is central to driving innovation and can positively impact sales.

    Brand owners, however, need to widen their horizons and look beyond straightforward business benefits. There are other potential benefits to the brand that often go ignored. Brands that do not adequately communicate their environmental achievements are failing to maximize their investment in sustainability.

    Interbrand's global Corporate Citizenship Study showed that good deeds, including green activities, play a significant role in increasing favorability, contributing between 13% and 17% to positive impressions of a brand. The benefits do not stop there. For selected audiences, the impact can be even greater. Internally, people feel more motivated working for a company that is perceived to be doing good, making it easier to attract and retain top talent. Externally, investors and business customers are placing increased emphasis on sustainability as they look for long-term security and partners to help them achieve their own environmental goals. This means that any brand engaged in green activities should be taking the time to tell the public what they are doing.

    The 2012 Best Global Green Brands study suggests that many leading companies fail to recognize the full potential of green branding. The report looked at both actual environmental actions and market perceptions of the world's best corporate brands. Among the fifty companies ranked, around thirty have a positive gap, meaning they are not being fully credited for their activities and so are missing the opportunity to build stronger relationships with stakeholders.

    Perhaps the most striking examples can be found in the electronics industry. Eleven of the twelve leading global brands from the category recorded an above-average assessment of their environmental activities. However, only Apple received public recognition in line with actual achievements.

    To address a positive perception gap, brands need to create differentiated green communications by finding original, credible territories where they can claim leadership. Given the complexity of environmental issues, it is important that this should be a tangible activity, or an easy-to-understand concept that is relevant to the audience.

    Any green communication strategy needs to take into account the complexity of differing local views of environmental issues as well as the need to cut through the clutter of green badges and conflicting claims with a simple set of global messages backed by proof points.

    A word of caution – credibility is critical with a topic as emotive as the environment. Actions should always precede words. If people believe the brand is doing more for the planet than it actually is, there is a potential risk.

    However, before condemning any brand as a “green washer,” we should pause to consider several potential factors behind a negative gap. In addition to high-profile brands that enjoy a positive halo from being well-known and well-liked, there are examples of pioneering brands that are assumed to be top performers because of their thought leadership. It would be simplistic to criticize these brands without recognizing the impact they have pushing the green agenda to the forefront as a serious business topic.

    Nevertheless, there are risks for brands that do not live up to their public pronouncements. Brands need to ensure that they are delivering on their core promises as well as managing public expectations. In the age of social media, people expect transparency even if it means admitting to weaknesses or imperfections. This should not discourage brands from engaging in dialog about complex issues.

    For meaningful change to occur in our relationship with the planet, information on sustainability has to be communicated to everyone and options for green lifestyles have to be made available to all. With their prestige and immense resources, global brands are well-positioned to realize this through their words, actions, and leadership.

    Alex Murray is a Strategy Director at Interbrand Tokyo.

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  • Posted by: Kevin Perlmutter on Friday, July 13 2012 10:49 AM | Comments (0)

    power cellphone

    Interbrand’s Corporate Citizenship research confirms that those telecoms that are known for contributions to society will yield greater consumer interest and loyalty. Many telecoms contribute a significant amount to their communities, but sustainability remains an underleveraged opportunity.

    Thanks to the learning from developing our Best Global Green Brands 2012 ranking and our general telecom industry understanding, Interbrand has identified key ways in which the growing environmental sustainability agenda could – and should – impact such brands. Many of these opportunities build on existing initiatives and policies, demonstrating that this sector has great potential to become a leader in sustainability efforts.

    Conserving resources, for example, is an area telecoms have made great advances in, creating the digital means to reduce the need for printed material, thus saving the precious resources needed to create more paper. Telecom businesses can and should be models in producing digital content for sharing, storing and consuming without printing for employees, suppliers, partners and end users.

    More could be done to conserve resources if excess packaging and package inserts were eliminated on the retail side of the sector. Encouraging device manufacturers to minimize packaging and printed materials would go a long way toward sustainability. As devices become more intuitive, printed instruction manuals will become less necessary and could be viewed digitally.

    packaging waste

    Digital capabilities also allow for an ever-increasing ability to connect with people, reducing the amount of local and international travel needed to do business. As telecoms continue to innovate high definition video technology that makes meeting and collaboration from different places around the world more realistic and accessible, the carbon footprint of all businesses, and those of telecom companies themselves, can be greatly reduced.

    Innovation in product development can improve the sustainability of the products themselves as well. Mobile phone chargers, for example, still consume a significant amount of energy, although there are new technologies in use that will reduce their carbon footprint. Telecoms have the power to insist on supporting devices that use less energy, and even to go as far as to implement a rating system -- much like the US government’s “Energy Star” rating system.

    Millions of customers replace their mobile phones every few years to obtain the latest and greatest models. Encouraging and supporting year-round donation programs within retail locations, enabling customers to easily recycle their products while doing good, would go a long way in supporting sustainability and corporate social responsibility.

    For devices that cannot be donated, it is incumbent upon the telecom industry and equipment manufacturers to improve the recyclability of their components safely and efficiently. Not only will this reduce landfill waste, as well as soil and water contamination, but it will also make more efficient use of scarce materials used in mobile devices.

    Some equipment manufacturers mass-produce their products in countries where the cost of labor is very low. Telecoms have the opportunity to take a stand, boycotting suppliers and countries where human rights are being violated, following the lead of garment manufacturers. After several years of controversy, Apple is allowing independent inspections of its Asian supply chain. Others should follow suit.

    social media green

    Global social networks are making the world smaller – giving people from all social classes and countries access to the same information and capabilities. Twitter has more than 175 million accounts and claims 140 million active users. Facebook is closing in on one billion accounts and boasts more than 500 million daily active users. Some predict the number of people accessing these networks on mobile devices globally will exceed 1 billon within the next five years. This access to knowledge and communication will result in human progress and a closing of the digital divide.

    As Interbrand’s global CEO Jez Frampton has said, “It’s our view that brands should do good in the world by doing what they do best. …Being a good citizen is a complex and vital part of corporate strategy and it starts with core operations. …It’s only by applying their particular expertise to the world’s problems that brands can really hope to effect any real change. It also transforms corporate citizenship from being a nice to have philanthropy to a must have business asset.”

    Kevin Perlmutter is a Senior Director of Brand Strategy in Interbrand’s New York office.

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  • Posted by: Interbrand on Wednesday, May 9 2012 05:53 PM | Comments (0)
    The Great Recycle Bin

    “At Interbrand, Corporate Citizenship is woven into our values, our behaviors and our practice,” says Executive Director Tom Zara. In addition to Interbrand’s recent Corporate Citizenship Day of Service, Interbrand New York participated in The Great Recycle.

    In an effort to support New York City’s mission to dramatically boost recycling, Honest Tea, GrowNYC, Recyclebank, Coca-Cola Live Positively, Global Inheritance and 5-Boro Green Services launched The Great Recycle. With an event held in Times Square, including a 30-foot-tall inflatable recycling bin, and a digital campaign to encourage people to pledge to recycle, 15,641 bottles were collected on site and 35,500 people around the country pledged to recycle 275,000 containers weekly.

    “New York City is making great strides toward a greener, greater future, and initiatives like ‘The Great Recycle’ expand on opportunities for residents and visitors alike to help us meet our sustainability goals,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “Thousands of people here in New York and beyond will think twice about throwing out plastics and other recyclables, and the materials collected will be put to excellent use in our public school urban gardens.”

    Recycling Bins

    Interbrand recycles year-round and was happy to engage in this campaign. Our building’s waste management company sorts the recyclable cans and bottles from the regular trash after it is picked up. But during this special campaign, all soda cans from conference rooms, all beer and wine bottles from our weekly Friday Brain Wash events and any drink pouches from Bring Your Child to Work Day were deposited into specially marked bins throughout the office. Each floor had two or more clearly marked bins to collect empty beverage containers.

    After one week of collecting, the office pulled together a total of 728 glass and plastic bottles, including 255 soda cans. IBNY’s Rachel Kessman and Lauren Gallo attended The Great Recycle event in Times Square where they pledged into a microphone that Interbrand New York would recycle more than 99 items per week throughout the next year.

    Lauren Gallo and Rachel Kessman 

    As Tom Zara observes, “Corporate Citizenship must be in the fabric of an organization to be effective. The hypocrisy of saying and not doing is the legacy of many companies. Volunteerism, a not–for–profit Foundation, Interbrand Inspired, a year long recycling commitment, energy efficiency metrics, and health and wellness programs are just a few of the demonstrations of Citizenship that show we ‘walk the talk.’”

    The plastic bottles collected in The Great Recycle will become plastic lumber for GrowNYC to use in building urban gardens for NYC public schools, as part of Grow to Learn. 5-Boro Green Services will recycle cans, glass and juice boxes.

    Plans are underway for more Great Recycle events, with announcements expected in the coming weeks. “We are thrilled with New York’s response to our invitation to keep the (re)cycle going,” said Seth Goldman, co-founder and TeaEO of Honest Tea. The company assures the 30-foot inflatable recycling bin will also be reused.

    To make a pledge to recycle, visit www.thegreatrecycle.com. As a fun and playful aspect of the campaign, people can also recycle an old Facebook post!

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  • Posted by: Bertrand Chovet on Tuesday, April 17 2012 05:07 PM | Comments (0)

    Luxury and sustainability can appear paradoxical… but not so.

    Invited to 1.618 (www.1618-paris.com) in Paris, it was impressive to see how it was rich in insights, content and innovation. With brands such as BMW and Foundation Jacques Rougerie participating, 1.618, named for Fibonacci’s Golden Ratio, is an annual public event held in Cité de la Mode et du Design. A hybrid of trade shows and contemporary art shows, the event’s focus is on Sustainable Luxury.

    Particularly impressive was Osklen (www.osklen.com), a brand created following a trip with a group of Brazilian snowboarders, who set out to climb the Aconcagua in the Andes, the highest mountain in the Americas (6959m). Oskar Metsavaht, a sports medicine specialist who had been on the trip, seeing a need, created athletic clothing for extreme cold. Enjoying immediate success, he decided to launch the specialized jacket brand Osklen in 1989.

    Rapidly the collections were adapted to the Brazilian climate. Oskar Metsavaht’s passion for surfing and snowboarding grew the product line to also include lifestyle-inspired clothes for these sports. Inspiration from the mountains and the sea was at the heart of the design, leading in 2002 to the launch of e-brigade and designing its collection from recycled materials.

    The earth -- its movement, natural materials, sophistication -- is an endless source of inspiration for this strong brand. No doubt the original quest for adventure, lived in the waves and the snow, informed Osklen’s Winter 2003 Collection, for example, 'Surfing the Mountains.' The Surfing the Mountains Fashion Show highlights this spirit of adventure, available in several episodes. (Surfing the Mountains) Clearly a passion for natural experiences continually inspires Oscar Metsavaht to take a unique and fresh look at the world with all its subtleties and reinvent genuine luxury fashion.

    In 2007, WWF-UK named Osklen a ‘Future Maker’ in its report, Deeper Luxury: quality and style when the world matters. The ‘Royal Black Spring/Summer 2012’ collection is indeed a perfect combination of luxury and sustainability, illustrating the primal futurism trend.

    Awarded this year with the HEC 1.618 Sustainable Luxury Award 2012, an honor École des Hautes Études Commerciales de Paris, one of Europe’s premier business schools, and 1.618 initiated to honor innovators in the field of sustainable development. Osklen is definitely a brand to watch for merging sustainability and luxury.

    Bertrand Chovet is Managing Director of Interbrand’s Paris office.

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  • Posted by: Jennifer Bassett on Friday, July 1 2011 11:41 AM | Comments (0)

    Of all corporate citizenship initiatives, Interbrand has found that green efforts are currently the most visible – and often times, the most inaccurately communicated. Indeed, organizations like Greenpeace have made it part of their mission to call out the many brands that present themselves to consumers as “green,” but which are quite the opposite in practice. The reverse is true as well. Take Nokia, which has consistently ranked high in terms of green performance, and yet trails behind competitors in terms of customer’s perception of its efforts.

    It is because of this frequent misalignment between brand performance and perception that Interbrand (with performance research conducted by Deloitte) has decided to offer a thorough and accurate green ranking, which we will be launching on Interbrand’s website on July 26, 9:00 a.m. EST. Our goal is to create a score that effectively measures leading brands’ green efforts and to ensure that those brands’ excelling in this area receive credit for their initiatives.

    We invite you to head to our website on July 26 to view our table, methodology, key findings, and insights. You may be surprised by what you see...

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