Saturday, April 27, 2013

What Does it Mean to be Green?

Many products advertised as “green” or “organic” can sway purchasing decisions, but companies can also position themselves as socially conscious at a corporate level to attract customers. Such position begs the question though, what does it mean to be green and how can you communicate it in your advertising?

To help promote your company’s green efforts to all audiences, BBB offers the following advice for making “green” claims in advertising and marketing:

Tell the truth. A recent study by a Canadian-based marketing firm found that many products aren't as earth-friendly as they say they are. While most products reviewed made exaggerated claims, a few carried outright lies – mostly involving supposed certification from watchdog organizations. Few things destroy a company’s credibility with consumers faster than false advertising – tell the truth in all marketing efforts.

Make concrete claims. An honest advertiser will not make vague statements such as “environmentally friendly” or “sustainable” without providing solid examples to back up the claim. If your packaging is made from recycled paper, then say so. If your company has reduced energy costs, then brag about! Making fuzzy claims, however, can get you into trouble with any and all consumer segments.

Provide evidence. Being a green company isn't just about putting a recycling bin by the copier. You also need to be able to explain how you’re making the world a better place. Consider creative ways of quantifying your company’s impact such as: How many hours have your employees volunteered? Who has benefited and how have they benefited from your firm’s efforts.

Get a stamp of approval. While there is no universal “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for green claims, there are independent third-party organizations that will certify your environmentally-friendly statements such as EcoLogo ( or Green Seal (

Get expert help. As a result of the green-frenzy, many boutique marketing and advertising firms have sprung up that specialize in branding companies as environmentally friendly and socially responsible. Getting professional PR help is typically costly; however, the rewards could be substantial in terms of revenue, reputation and goodwill.

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