Going green is no longer just a trend - it's a competitive necessity. Yet even the most well-intentioned brands struggle to authentically market themselves as eco-friendly. They're not sure how to talk about their efforts without coming across as preachy or alienating potential customers.
The key is striking the right tone - one that feels genuine rather than performative. As more brands work to reduce their environmental impact, consciousness, and sustainability are becoming mainstream. Savvy marketers recognize this and are adapting their strategies accordingly. Here's my advice on how to do it right.
Common Greenwashing Mistakes to Avoid
|Why it Backfires
|Leading with certifications/credentials
|Comes off as bragging
|Emphasize end-customer value
|Transparency about improvements
|Inviting shared values
Meet Customers Where They Are
You can't strong-arm people into caring about the environment. Instead, eco-friendly marketing should feel inclusive rather than exclusionary. Help customers understand how your brand aligns with values they already have.
- Emphasize quality and value rather than just sustainability. Talk more about product benefits and less about your certification or recycling process.
- Share the stories of real people who love your products because they perform impressively and last a long time.
- Spotlight influencers from diverse backgrounds who authentically use and enjoy your brand.
The goal is inviting everyone on the sustainability journey - not just those who already identify as eco-warriors. Avoid an “us vs. them” mentality.
Lead with Emotion
Facts and statistics only go so far. While third-party certifications like B-Corp and Climate Neutral lend credibility, you still need to connect with customers emotionally.
Share the passion and purpose behind your brand through storytelling. Help people get to know the real people behind your company and why they care so deeply about environmental health.
Some specific strategies include:
- Short social videos spotlighting farmers, designers, and other supply chain partners
- Blog interviews with longtime employees about what sustainability means to them
- Photo essays showing the care that goes into each stage of production
- Podcast episodes exploring different green living lifestyle tips
The more your audience understands what drives your brand, the more likely they'll be to connect and share your values.
Sustainability Marketing Investment Priorities
|% Allocating Budget
|Build emotional connections
|Lifestyle community content
|Facilitate collective action
|User forums, events
|Facility virtual tours
|Personalize the brand
|Customer highlight reels
|YouTube videos, IG takeovers
Make Imperfections Your Superpower
Customers have come to expect over-filtered perfection from brands on social media. But that polished veneer can feel inauthentic. Don't be afraid to break this mold and get real about the challenges, mistakes and continuing education behind running a values-aligned business.
Being upfront about the complexity of implementing eco-best practices shows humility and helps customers trust that you're not just giving sustainability lip service.
Some honest storytelling ideas include:
- The saga behind faulty first attempts at a new compostable packaging
- Ongoing employee training programs teaching sustainability practices
- Areas that are still works-in-progress on your sustainability journey
This framing invites others on a collaborative journey rather than preaching from an ivory tower.
Empower Lifestyle Content & Community
Sustainability isn't just about buying green products - it's increasingly a lifestyle and social identity. That means you need to go beyond just selling, to empowering collective action.
Create avenues for customers to connect through their shared values for preserving the planet. Some ideas include:
- User-generated content campaigns capturing customers living sustainably
- Soliciting eco-tips and constructive advice from your community
- Facilitating meet-ups and volunteer events
- Sharing actionable guides on environmental activism
- Collaborating with green influencers on creative projects
This community-driven content keeps your brand front-of-mind while associating it with customers' deeper identity around sustainability. It also exponentially increases your reach as fans share and engage with socially validated ideas.
The key is giving supporters the tools they need to spread awareness - then getting out of the way. Because empowered customers become your best marketers.
Sample 12-Month Storytelling Content Calendar
|Assets to Create
|Origins: Founder personal sustainability journey
|Short brand origin video
|Behind the Scenes: Designer/artist spotlight
|Blog interview, Photos
|Eco-Imperfections: Product development learnings
|Lifestyle: Spotlight on micro-influencers
|Co-created video project
|Staff Perspectives: Long-time employee interviews
|Blog posts, Podcast episode
|Customer Highlights Reel: Fan testimonials
|Environmental Activism 101 Guide
|Free downloadable ebook
|Meet our Farmers: Supplier spotlight
|Photo essay, site bios
|Panel Event: Community discussion recording
|Expert roundtable video
|Facility Virtual Tour: Production process
|UGC Campaign: Encourage sustainability posts
|Curate & re-share
|Recap & Gratitude: Look back at 2022
|Year-end roundup blog
Eco-consciousness used to be confined to a crunchy niche. But it's hit mainstream critical mass. Smart brands recognize sustainability as an opportunity to lead by example while meeting customer demand.
Yet conscious marketing requires nuance. You need to delicately balance facts with feeling, perfection with imperfection, and selling with empowering. By taking an inclusive approach focused on shared values over exclusivity, every brand has permission to authentically join this movement.
Those that leverage eco-friendly practices as a chance to build community and lifestyle beyond products will transform customers into fans. And what's better for the planet than conscious consumers spreading the sustainability message for you?