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WINDMADEBy now, even the most traditional of CEOs will have realised this: The corporate sustainability movement is here to stay, and is gaining in importance every day. It has acquired a civil voice, driven by advocacy groups and NGOs, and public scepticism and discontent with the behaviour of brands can no longer be faced with a few half-hearted greenwashing measures. Sustainability is part of your brand story.

The new global consumer has high expectations for the role companies should play in addressing social and environmental issues, and a brand’s performance is a key factor in their purchasing decisions. According to a recent Global CSR Study, 93% of respondents want to see more of the products and services support sustainability, and 96% stated that they would have a more positive image of a company supporting social or environmental issues; 91% would even switch brands on that account. The reverse is also true: as many of 90% of consumers also said that they would boycott companies behaving irresponsibly. These are powerful figures that every marketing professional should be aware of.

This development can be regarded as a threat by brand managers. Or it can be seen as an opportunity, the chance to embrace sustainability and define and tell a company’s story to an increasingly aware audience. Progressive brands have realized this and are tapping into this new pool of engaged consumers by making corporate sustainability a centrepiece of their business strategy and communicating this effectively to their stakeholders.

But how can a brand achieve a sustainable perception? How can you get your message through to stakeholders and consumers? There are several key principles for success: authenticity, transparency and relevance. Sustainability branding has to be credible, and it has to convey commitments which are noticeable, understandable and relevant to the consumer. This is where trustworthy eco-labels come in – they can help integrate the company’s sustainability values and messages into the corporate story in a way that resonates with consumers.

Partnering with eco-labels gives brands a tool for adopting a sustainable business model and tell a more engaging story. This in turn helps consumers identify with a brand that reflects their values and feel that supporting it will connect them to a bigger cause. It creates brand loyalty.

Now, understand that I have a stake in the game. We have a brand that can help your brand. The WindMade label, which is backed by WWF, the UN Global Compact, Sierra Club and the wind power industry, works along these lines. By offering the first ever global consumer label for products made with wind power, WindMade gives progressive brands a tool to demonstrate their commitment to renewable energy, and to engage with the overwhelming majority of consumers who feel strongly about the environmental impact of power generation.

WindMade’s corporate members, which include Motorola, Deutsche Bank, Bloomberg, LEGO, BD and many others, believe that using the WindMade label will give them a competitive edge, and research indicates that they may well be right. The annual Global Consumer Wind Study shows that 79% of respondents would prefer to have their electricity generated by renewables (compared to 5% for fossil fuels and 7% for nuclear). In addition, 74% of consumers would have a more positive perception of brands that use wind power as their main energy source.

A label such as WindMade is a powerful tool for giving consumers the transparency and choice they demand: As many as 75% of consumers consider labels a useful guidance for their purchasing decisions, and 57% said that the WindMade label would be relevant to them.

These findings indicate that there is a real opportunity here for brands to enhance their reputation. By procuring renewable energy, and using the WindMade label to communicate this to their customers and stakeholders, a company can make a real difference to the way its brand is perceived.

This is good news for our planet, and good news for companies pioneering clean energy.

Angelika Pullen is the communications director for Windmade. 



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by Brandon Gutman
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Brandon is an expert connector and seasoned business development professional. As Principal of Brand Approved, he's led the advisory to become the bridge between brand marketers and best of breed service providers that are reshaping the industry.

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