Sustainability that stands out

With sustainability fast becoming a requirement for entry in many categories, what can brands with a sustainable vision do to cut through and create noise amidst the new norm?

  • Opinion
  • Jon

Sustainability that stands out Organic, Fair Trade, Carbon Offset or Locally Sourced - sustainability has entered mainstream consciousness like never before. But with it fast becoming a requirement for entry in many categories, what can brands with a sustainable vision do to cut through and create noise amidst the new norm?

One path for creating difference is to rise above category-obeying gesture politics by considering sustainability’s potential to become a radical and intrinsic part of a business model and brand.

Earlier this year, Helena and Simon, the founders of coffee challenger brand Truestart, approached us looking to re-brand and build on their belief that brands have a responsibility and opportunity to do good. With a go-getting, no-compromise, attitudinal positioning soon in place, it was only right that Truestart should take an equally no-compromise approach to sustainability.

By the time of it’s relaunch, Truestart had committed to ‘Hyper Sustainability’, an approach which led every touchpoint, every piece of packaging and every business decision to be made through the lens of sustainability. The brand now uses recycled glass, compostable coffee pods and the UK’s first ‘Omnidegradable’ coffee bags, which biodegrade to it’s original elements harmlessly, quickly and completely. Truestart even transform disused coffee sacks into branded backpacks and tote bags.

“We’re not perfect, but we truly believe that awesomeness doesn’t need to come at the expense of others - people or animals!. We’ll never stop trying to be better.”
Helena and Simon, Truestart

In our era of institutional and corporate cynicism, it’s this kind of deep sustainability – instilled earnestly and transparently in the way a brand behaves and operates - that is most likely to restore trust and attract attention from younger consumers.

And it was with sustainable business in mind that we invited design students to enter this year’s BrandOpus Chrysalis awards and propose a new brand to help ‘close the loop’ on Carling’s brewing process.

The term ‘Closed Loop’ refers to any process that creates value through the sustainable use of a surplus product or by-product - and as we discovered, beer production results in a lot of ‘spent’ or surplus grain (roughly half a kilogram per six pack of beer). Prior to the rise of urban breweries, spent grain was sold as feed for livestock, but brewers in city centres today are left with few better options than to have it composted or taken to landfill.

From Granolas and Plant Mylks to Pastas and Pet Foods, the solutions not only impressed on their worthy, sustainable, merit, but for demonstrating the valuable potential of sustainable thinking as a source for differentiating brand extensions and even the bedrock of new brand development.

With sustainability firmly on the agenda, we encourage brand owners to resist ‘me too’ gestures or standardized sustainability and instead look inward at their brand beliefs or production methods to identify a deeper, more distinctive and disruptive sustainability.

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