“Paper or plastic?” you get asked when finishing up at the grocery store. It’s a question that gets asked because people are attempting to stay environmentally conscious in today’s fast paced style of living. In 2006, when Al Gore began his ecological campaign and created An Inconvenient Truth, he opened the eyes of many Americans to a land with fewer gold paved roads than there were in the 20th century. However, companies around the world are cognitive of that and are attempting to rectify it. Effectively, Al Gore turned “going green” into an epidemic.
This movement consists of emotional attachment to brands (names, products, philosophies, strategies etc.) and their connection to this finite world that we live in. Social interaction between everyone on this earth plays a huge impact on the life of “green.” People love to talk about what they know; it’s human nature. Also, diverse cultures around the world influence people in a different way that often opens new doors leading to more “green” ideas. There are many things that keep the sustainability train chugging along; these are three that have a pretty big influence.
Emotional attachment is everything in the world of brands. People like name brands. Preferring Nike to any other athletic line of clothing is natural because they are the masters of the sports world. Nike took their company to the next level time and time again by creating different branches: Nike Golf, Nike Soccer, and Nike Basketball to name a few. As an international powerhouse, Nike deemed themselves responsible to keep sports alive for the future. They created Nike BetterWorld, a branch of Nike that focuses on sustainability through sports*. People at Nike thought, “making shoes for athletes across the world is a big undertaking, how can we reduce needless weight, bulk and waste? Use only what is necessary?” A good question for a company trying to make an impression on the world. As the company grew, Nike gained experience in the realm of all sports. They began focusing on supply chains that can deliver their products to consumers more responsibly, energy consumption in the manufacturing of shoes and clothes, and ways to recycle materials. With all of this experience, Nike realized that they were demanding a lot from the globe’s natural resources. It made them consider the impact they had on the world, communities and athletes. When attention is paid to matters like these in companies, people begin to notice. It builds up a level of trust for the consumer and opens up the consumer’s mind to what a company has to offer.
For any company, reaching this point of sincerity with consumers creates a whole new world of advertising, and it’s free. Communication is what makes human beings unique. Nike has built a literal world of communication. Everyone knows the brand name Nike, and they love to talk about it. When Nike comes out with a new product, a new line, or a new department, the world knows about it. That is because of the promise that Nike made to themselves and the rest of us to remain responsible for protecting the future of sports. And when a company has billions of people talking about it, it’s free advertising. So the lesson to learn from companies like Nike BetterWorld is holding yourself responsible for what you do will attract attention.
Doing business internationally requires a different set of skills. What companies like Nike have working for it is that sport is a universal language. But for other companies like The Zollverein School of Management and Design in Essen, Germany, innovative green thinking is their forte. For instance, they recently issued a $200,000 grant to two brothers in Germany to build a 2,045 square foot house made entirely out of paper. This sort of thinking is the kind that will keep the world healthy. Obviously, there are impracticalities to a house built entirely out of paper. But the idea behind it, the brainpower behind it, is what grabs the attention of the world. And with green strategies like this being implemented, companies begin to attract followers for a lifetime.
When companies, agencies, or just two brothers from Germany begin to think about the emotional effect their ideas have on the world, the world begins to listen. And with all of the bad advertising there exists, ideas and strategies like these are a breath of fresh air, so take notes.
*Search “Nike BetterWorld – History featuring Phil Knight” on YouTube for additional insight.