What role do brands play in the process of switching consumer society’s brains to sustainability mode? A very important one. In fact, as the Guardian puts it, “the role of brands as change agents is growing rapidly. Brands can have more power than any international organisation by sheer force of the number of people they touch. With that power comes responsibility – and the potential for brands to act as agents of transformative change.” I already wrote about this some time ago in the blog post Green and Gucci – the new sustainability lifestyle?, where I raise doubts about the real effect designer brands have on their (mostly affluent) customers in terms of making them embrace sustainability practices. Depending on their cultural and social environment, unsustainable practices might seem a social necessity, such as using big expensive cars to collect your kids from school to affirm status and social class, instead of having them cycle or take the bus. On the other hand, if acting ‘green’ becomes the new status symbol and is promoted as such by valued brands, there might be real opportunities to get consumers onboard the green band waggon who wouldn’t usually care too much about their environmental impact for all sorts of reasons.
If you want to learn more about brands, marketing and sustainability, check out this event in New York, October 12: “Join sustainability experts, key practitioners and opinion formers for a stimulating evening of insight, intelligence and lively debate, hosted by Guardian Sustainable Business and Forum for the Future. Discover how can brands use their voices, their trusted advocates and their reach to inspire change. Explore how brand/consumer relationships will change in a way that works for sustainability. Discuss how marketing will need to change to deliver responsible growth. Pick the brains of leading practitioners in corporate sustainability on both sides of the Atlantic. Find out what’s coming up on the radar of innovative thinkers. Enjoy wine and refreshments with colleagues from a wide range of sectors.
The panel will be chaired by Jo Confino, Executive Editor, The Guardian and chair of Guardian Sustainable Business. Speakers include Ian Yolles, Chief sustainability officer, Recyclebank, Sara Howe, Sustainability director, Tata Global Beverages, Sally Uren, Deputy chief executive, Forum for the Future, and Jeffrey Hollender, Co-Founder Seventh Generation, sustainability author and activist.
And, if you’re among the lucky to join the event, please come back here and let us know what you learned!
Picture credit: shannonkringen