We all know how much green washing has infiltrated our lives. You see it everywhere. Businesses are using marketing and branding techniques to capture the "green" audience and make a profit. All in the name of the environment and sustainability. In the end these businesses will only hurt themselves for the quick buck. What these businesses fail to understand is that the socially conscious consumer might purchase their product or services once based on trust. If the consumer's trust is not reinforced they will not only lose that customer, but that customer will also tell all their peers and friends.
A great example of this is a deli and coffee shop in Downtown Seattle. In the last year they recently re-branded their look (which worked perfectly well to the begin with) to appear green. They changed their colors from yellow, red and black to shades of green and incorporated a leaf into their logo. I had never eaten there, but had noticed these changes from the outside. They are well known for their roast beef french-dip style sandwich. I had some extra time one day between appointments and decided to get a drink and a snack. They had a nice space and I enjoyed a comfy few minutes before moving on to my next appointment. As I left, I looked for a recycling bin to leave my glass bottle. I could not find any form of recycling anywhere. I took the bottle with me to recycle elsewhere.
How could an establishment that claims to be "green" not offer recycling? I have not researched their food or business practices. They might be doing something tremendous for the environment that far outweighs recycling. In the end it does not matter. What matters is how you present yourself and how you follow through with your actions. This is how we judge companies and organizations. You tell us what you are about. We try your product or service. If it does not match with what you presented to us, then you have broken your promise to us.
This deli did not need to change their approach in branding. They are well known for a particular product. If anything, they should utilize the recognition they have and promote their great product even more. Promise what you do best. This will gain your customer's trust. Once you have their trust you can reinforce it with other messages. The trust circle will grow greater with everything your organization does. Consumers like to buy things that support their tastes and beliefs and gravitate towards companies that promote these things. If you organization believes in sustainability or being green, you better make sure to back it up. Examine everything you do with green goggles. The companies that do this honestly will be the companies that grow and flourish. They are building from a foundation of trust created by promises that can be delivered upon.
Green washing will not last because it is not a sound business decision. In today's time you cannot survive on tricks, gadgets and manipulations. Stick to talking about your business honestly. Then you will not need to lie or promote wishful thinking. Karmic retribution can be devastating.