To be (green) or not to be (green)…

Kermit has contacted me; he wants us all to stop trying to steal his colour! (or why green-washing your brand is a bad idea).

Overheard at the sustainability conference last week – “We just hired a green brand manager”!


From where I sit, there are plenty of things wrong with that statement, but the most glaring one is the idea that you can “hire green”. I think it is fairly safe to say the person in question wasn’t referring to Kermit or a leprechaun, so what they were referring to is the disquieting trend of trying to green-wash brands.


Do you really think so little of your customers (and other stakeholders for that matter), that you believe they will buy you suddenly claiming green credentials? And even if you are taking steps to embrace more environmentally sustainable practices in your business, what makes you think it is part of your brand?


To anyone even thinking about taking this approach, here’s some advice from someone who deals with brands day in and day out – don’t do it if you don’t mean it.


Remember brand is what you believe and what our actions show, and unfortunately for a majority of organisations who try to claim newly green credentials, they neither believe it nor show it. To them green is just another marketing opportunity.


And the problem with that approach is that doing it hurts everyone. The more people who claim green without being green, the more cynical customers become, and if it’s one thing that we don’t need more cynicism on it is the importance of doing everything we can to avert the growing crisis in our environment.


There are a few organisations who can legitimately claim green as part of their brands. They have been doing it for years, long before green was the new black. Sustainability and caring about the environment that we pass on to future generations isn’t an opportunity to them, but a fundamental way they think about their businesses and always has been.


Green can be part of your message, like quality, or cost, or any of the other buying buttons out there that are used to win over customers. But until your whole business is driven by a green ethos, that’s all it can be – a button, not a brand (and even Kermit himself can’t change that).


See you next week!


For a little something extra, here is a great short animation that tells the “Story of Stuff.” Great viewing that gets you thinking about how our consumption and production patterns are changing the world around us!



Alignment is Michel’s passion. Through her work with Brandology here in Australia, and Brand Alignment Group in the United States, she helps organisations align who they are, with what they do and say to build more authentic and sustainable brands.

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