Thursday 1 September 2016

The Importance Of Branding To Ethical Business

These days, as any entrepreneur knows, it's not enough to have a great idea. You have to be able to market it in a way that lets people know as quickly as possible who you are and what you stand for.

In other words, you need a brand. This is doubly important if you're selling an ethical product or service.

Over on the Virgin Unite blog (Virgin are of course no slouches at this whole branding thing), some successful ethical business minds are offering useful and practical tips to help get you started. There's some real wisdom on display here.

Logos are desperately important. The right image can convey a lot about your business in a single glance. Get the design right, and it'll work on everything from posters to badges to social media avatars. It's like a flag that announces you and your business. Again, Virgin have nailed this, to the point where even the red of the logo is used in uniforms and livery.

Talking about social media... It's essential, of course. It can give you an opportunity to connect much more deeply with people if you use vectors like Twitter and Instagram to not just sell a product, but tell a story. The House Of Wandering Silk, for example (@wanderingsilk) use Instagram to show work in progress, and to highlight the people who make their amazing raw silk scarves and saris. It helps that the photos they post are drop dead gorgeous, of course.

Transparency is vital. If anything, it's the keystone from which everything in an ethical business should be grounded. People Tree, who are a pioneer in the Eco-fashion business, know all about this. CEO Safia Minney explains:

"Being transparent about who made our products, pioneering environmental innovation and creating a positive social impact through making our products is the DNA of People Tree and you must communicate this to your consumers through every aspect of your brand.”

There's a chance as well to use your brand for good. As Rachel Faller of Tonlé makes clear:

"a successful brand is one that educates its customers, and then provides a solution."

Her rebranding of Tonlé in 2014 as a zero-waste company was launched with a series of hard-hitting videos that have been used as educational tools, providing what she calls a 'light-bulb' moment that can change people's attitudes in a moment.

Our View: Those of us that think marketing and branding is just the icing on the cake of business need to understand that things have changed. In an ever-crowding marketplace you need to stand out, and using clever branding tools, a sharp logo and smart use of social media can be the way to get your ethical business off the ground and engaged with customers who want to not just buy your stuff, but hear your story.

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