Since I am speaking at CoreNet Global SNAP session tomorrow at 2pm on corporate branding through sustainability, I want to make the distinction between branding, which relies on a real commitment to sustainability, and greenwashing, which attempts to put a green face on business-as-usual practices.
Business people first heard the terms “sustainability” and “greenwashing” almost simultaneously, because some companies used the trend to falsely promote their products as green, or to make carbon-reduction promises they couldn’t keep. By the time companies recognized the deeper benefits of sustainability, many of their customers had become hardened to skin-deep green claims.
Recent studies indicate that customers and investors are able to differentiate between companies that truly embrace sustainability and those that merely pretend. That’s where the branding opportunity comes in.
Branding uses consistent perceptual cues to create positive associates of a company. The built environment offers many opportunities to reinforce a corporate image. Solar power installations, green roofs and natural vegetative landscaping provide visual reminders to people visiting or passing by a property. It’s also important to engage employees, the group in the best position to confirm or reject a company’s green image.
Check out my session to see how companies leading the sustainability charge are using real estate strategies to reinforce positive images.