As consumers become more savvy about greenwashing and more demanding about the products they buy, brands need to be ever more transparent if they are to differentiate themselves from the greening crowd.  As we’ve said in a prior blog, sustainability is a process, not an absolute, or state of perfection.  So, the looming question that needs to be answered by brands is ‘How do they hold themselves accountable?’  And how do people who want to do business with those companies know they’re telling the truth?

Here’s one company that does that in spades:  Burt’s Bees.

In 2010, they did their corporate responsibility report on video – rather than placing hundreds of pages up on their web site. And although they didn’t stick to a current rule of thumb that online videos are more likely to be watched if they’re 1:30 – 2:00 max, these videos present real people and show real actions that reveal the core values of the company – including their core value and business model they call the “Greater Good Business Model.”  Showing responsible, thoughtful actions that reveal values and educate people who become, or already are their customers, is where online video shines.

Social video used in this way increases the credibility of the brand.

Burt’s Bees invites people in to actually see how they conduct business, treat their employees, relate to their communities and walk their talk.  These videos show that Burt’s Bees lives the greater good in how they approach their employees, their vendors, their products, their practices, their communities and the planet.

From how they source their ingredients to how they think about their packaging and their products’ life cycles, Burt’s Bees demonstrate over and over that environmental stewardship and socially responsible actions are why they’re in business.  And clearly, that’s why their employees work there.

Social video creates meaningful relationships between the brand and its customers and communities.

The videos take us to a 2011 Earth Day Celebration in the company’s home town of Durham, NC, where Burt’s not only wants everyone to have a tremendous amount of fun, but be educated about how they can be better at taking care of the planet.  They show us how they close the entire company down for a day so that all 400 employees can participate in a sustainability project that unites the community and builds relationships.

Becoming sustainable is becoming more of an imperative.

In the fifth year of a survey that includes 8 countries and 9000 people called ImagePower® Green Brands Survey, the research determined that 60% of consumers want to buy from environmentally responsible brands.  The research suggests that being environmentally responsible is becoming more of an imperative, rather than an option, and the next challenge for brands will be how to differentiate themselves in a constantly greener brand universe.

Trust between a brand, their customers and communities allows for meaningful relationships to stand a chance in a marketing world where trust tends to be scarce and squandered.  When a company claims to be green because they’ve bought a carbon offset, that’s greenwashing – a relatively feeble action that has debatable impact.  When social videos show how a company is holding itself responsible – through measurable, demonstrable actions taken on behalf of the “Greater Good”….

…That’s not just good marketing, that’s good living.

What steps has your company taken to be a more responsible part of our planet? Want some ideas for how to let your customers know?  Leave a comment or contact us! We’d be happy to help!

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