Ethical Branding – New Standard for All Businesses
Ethical branding is no longer a trend. It is a standard that everyone needs to meet. Follow our guide to get a solid start in building an eco-friendly company.
Written by RamotionMay 20, 202210 min read
Last updated: Sep 26, 2023
Brand identity occupies the top priority for establishing a business online. It is responsible for many things: it humanizes and personifies the company, separates it from the crowd, delivers the right message, and leaves a positive lasting impression in consumers' minds. Therefore, it is primarily believed to be the first serious step towards successful sailing in the global market.
However, as many corporate brands agree, creating and maintaining a strong identity with a competitive advantage is a true challenge and a massive hurdle on the road. Though, no obstacle is insurmountable with the right marketing strategy at hand.
Well-thought-out branding strategy always translates into results. It helps the company not just exist in the market but also navigate through all fluctuations. But, what does the right brand strategy involve? In general, the brand strategy covers these essential constituents: vision, mission, objective, positioning, visual identity, and marketing plan. What makes it suitable for the brand is how it meets the company's specificity and general regulations and rules.
Although the latter depends on the sector, one standard is highly recommended to achieve for everyone these days. It is transforming a company into an ethical company by adopting ethical practices and collaborating with a professional, ethical branding agency.
Importance of Being an Ethical Brand
Did you know that almost 70% of respondents around 35 years old worldwide choose brands based on their ethical practices? On top of that, according to recent studies, over 50% of them are willing to pay more for products of companies with high morale.
Big brands have already capitalized on that. H&M, Gucci, Stella McCartney, Arnsdorf, and The Folklore all proclaim to be ethical brands committed to environmental benchmarks and sustainability objectives. They have strong business ethics guided by highly recommended ethical principles. As a result, they feel strong in their corresponding market segments.
Being a more ethical brand than yesterday is crucial for many compelling reasons. For instance, ethical branding and corporate reputation are interconnected. If you want to improve overall opinions that are generally held about your organization, you need to polish your ethical principles. The better ethics you have, the better your corporate reputation will be. This brings numerous benefits to the company, such as empowering customers, driving engagement, and generating leads.
That is not all. The importance of ethical branding also lies in the advantages that it brings:
- It breeds deep brand loyalty.
- It strengthens the brand voice.
- It solidifies the brand in the market.
- It builds trust that helps the brand reach further, ward off competitors and establish long-term customers.
- It makes the company and its product or service an integral part of local culture, thereby enhancing its position in the market.
- It meets the expectations of local communities providing a solid foundation to move forward.
- It offers recruitment benefits since employees care about environmental responsibilities more than ever.
- It makes the company more appealing to the niche associated with ethics.
- Many recent studies and surveys show that ethical companies typically outperform their peers, and due to the reasons listed above, you can see why.
Being ethical is not just a new black; it is a standard. If you stay ignorant of it, you will eventually lose your hardly-earned position in the market. Therefore, it is better to get on this train as fast as possible.
Let us delve into the ethical brand definition. What are its principles? How to implement it following 16 simple steps? And what are inspiring examples to get some valuable insights?
Ethical Brand Definition
We live in an era of environmental responsibilities that inspire companies to create workplaces with high moral standards and healthy attitudes towards every person involved. Ethics bears enormous importance for companies regardless of their scale, age, and niche. However, what is it? Let us get things straight.
What Is an Ethical Brand?
The ethical brand is a symbiosis of two concepts: ethics and brand. It uses brand as a foundation and powers it with some moral principles and standards, combining the best qualities and attributes of two Worlds.
As marketers put it, ethical branding is a subset of ethical marketing related to certain moral principles. It defines right and wrong behavior in branding decisions and is responsible for a legacy of values. Characteristics of ethical branding are:
- Act morally.
- Accept social and environmental responsibilities.
- Hold a promise to do the right thing.
- Not harm animals, people, and the environment.
- Be inclusive, and go far beyond the product and profit.
- Ensure integrity, honesty, and accountability across all departments and verticals.
- Use sustainable materials and organic and natural ingredients.
- Build partnerships with companies that offer sustainable resources and services.
- Provide full transparency.
- Advocate for communities at large.
- Contribute to society and the public good.
- Offer fair wages.
- Pay more for quality work to provide customers with the best goods and services.
- Seek ways to give back to the World at large.
The ethical supply chain has taken on a more forward-facing role forcing many companies to reconsider their brand's values, mission, positioning, and strategy. It has become a requirement in the experience economy and ethical banding. Therefore, it is crucial to understand its essence.
What Is Ethical Supply Chain?
The ethical supply chain is a chain of ethical suppliers used by the company. It drives business initiatives, improves customer experience, and enhances working culture. It meets ethical standards related to environmental stewardship, sustainable sourcing, reducing waste, and better worker conditions.
When well-thought-out, it brings such benefits as
- It protects brand reputation.
- It builds long-term loyalty.
- It improves customer experience.
- It boosts the bottom line.
Enforcing an ethical supply chain in your business is vital, even though it may be hard to implement.
Steps to Create an Ethical Brand
Customers are looking for socially and internally responsible companies – end of story. So, how to turn your brand into an ethical one? Creating a holistic moral system is problematic. Nevertheless, it is possible. There are a few ways to introduce ethics into your core brand identity. Start with these basic steps:
Step 1 – Get the hang of ethical concepts and explore ground rules and best business ethical practices. Check the world-leading organizations like Fairtrade Foundation, Sustainable Development Goals, Greenpeace, and Environmental Justice Foundation to stay on top of things.
Step 2 – Find the support of organizations specialized in your niche because every sector may prioritize different ethical values and require obeying specific rules.
Step 3 – Explore different branches of knowledge dealing with material resources to make educated decisions.
Step 4 - Be aware of the company's impact on the environment and community. Ensure every supply chain link is ethical and does not harm the environment or animals. If you have a web platform, ensure your server provider uses green energy to power its facilities.
Step 5 – Determine your ethical brand's purpose, values, and principles. Beyond making a profit or turning prospects into leads, your business should have a moral purpose to exist. You may choose one or several missions from the list provided by United Nations:
- Eliminate poverty.
- Eliminate hunger.
- Provide quality water supplies.
- Offer good health and well-being.
- Ensure gender equality.
- Provide decent work conditions.
- Ensure responsible consumption and production.
As for values and principles, try to meet at least several regulations provided by UN Global Compact, such as:
- respect and protect internationally proclaimed human rights;
- eliminate discrimination in work;
- encourage the development of environment-friendly technologies;
- work against corruption in all its forms.
Step 6 - Adopt these values: consciousness, diversity, inclusion, well-being, respect, honesty, authenticity, and self-esteem.
Step 7 – Favor local production.
Step 8 – Make your products or services sustainable. Make sure they are not harmful, toxic, or illegal. Practice green procurement and make them eco-friendly. Even if your products do not contribute to society, it will be enough to stay on the ethical side.
Step 9 - Certify products with official labels like European Ecolabel, GOTS or PETA Approved Vegan.
Step 10 – Offer a safe production environment: use recyclable materials, stick to green practices, use clean energy and strive for minimal waste.
Step 11 – Offer safe and healthy working culture where everyone is heard and appreciated. Follow these practices:
- adopt an empathetic approach to leadership and humility;
- create conditions for better employee cooperation;
- create community;
- place a high value on fairness;
- prioritize trustworthy management;
- establish innovative culture;
- inspire confidence and willingness to give extra;
- show that you value employees.
Step 12 – Ensure authenticity and transparency in the product, platform, and communication channels. Also, make the content understandable to all people using simple words.
Step 13 – Make web platforms, products, user experience, marketing, and email campaigns meet accessibility standards.
Step 14 - Develop ethical marketing. It is a powerful tool for achieving short- and long-term goals. Some say it is a philosophy rather than a strategy; however, start with ensuring your next campaign meets these factors:
- It sounds ethical.
- It builds meaningful relationships with customers.
- It focuses on how products benefit socially responsible or environmental causes.
- It is honest and trustworthy.
- It puts its social and ecological philanthropy on display.
Always consider ethical issues when making business decisions.
Step 15 – Follow the trend of the brand stand. Communicate a company's commitments to the noble cause through well-chosen visuals.
Step 16 - Give back to the community by supporting NGOs or investing in local culture.
3 Brilliant Ethical Branding Examples
Being ethical sounds like a good idea in theory; however, it is tough to do in real life since companies have sunk into unsustainable and environment-unfriendly solutions and approaches for decades. Though, some of them have managed to make giant leaps toward an eco-friendly future. Consider three brilliant ethical branding examples.
1. GreenGeeksWe are going to start with an eco-friendly web hosting company since ethical branding concerns not only organizations that sell goods in brick-and-mortar stores but also those that offer digital services and work online.
GreenGeeks is a good primer of that. The platform offers "carbon-reducing" hosting solutions by using green energy. As the team puts it, for every amperage we pull from the grid, we match 3 times that in the form of renewable energy via Bonneville.
In addition, they have healthy working conditions, contribute to the community and local culture, and even plant one tree for every hosting account. The company has earned an excellent reputation, amplified engagement, and increased sales by reducing the environmental impact.
2. PatagoniaWhen it comes to environmental activists, Patagonia occupies the leading position. It is a true trendsetter for many small fashion businesses across the World. They do numerous things:
- They hold their promise to be eco-friendly and green in every possible way.
- They employ only ethical marketing.
- They adopt environment-friendly practices.
- They raise awareness of environmental problems.
- They promote anti-consumerism.
- They encourage clients to consider the effect of their purchases.
- They donate 1% of sales to the restoration of natural environments.
As a result, it is one of the most trusted brands in the fashion industry, with an impressive annual revenue of over $20 million.
3. McDonald'sMcDonald's is infamous for its conspicuous attitude towards the quality of ingredients used in their -food. On top of that, it offers low prices that some people connect with low standards, considering the brand unethical.
However, in 2020, the company made a massive step towards being open and transparent. They created an interactive map for customers from the UK that showed the origin of all ingredients and the entire journey of their fast-food meals, from the start right to the end.
Making the supply chain transparent to clients has answered burning customers' questions about whether they consume high-quality food and whether the brand pursues ethical principles. This raised confidence in the company, increased trust, and boosted sales.
An ethical brand that customers expect to collaborate with these days is up to genuine care for all those it works with and supports. It sticks to ethical behavior to create a solid foundation for actions to make the company a name worth knowing and clinging to during the market's instability.
Along with its vast importance, it also bears numerous benefits that may help the company secure its position in the market and even broaden its sphere of usage, generate leads, increase revenue and prolong the life of the pro.