Tag Archives: recycling

Two Brand Marketing Approaches to Touting Green Cred

I’ve had the chance to experience how two very different brands approached touting their green credentials in the past month.  What I found most interesting is how different their marketing around their green efforts took shape, with the more B2B-focused company actually pushing the green angle more openly.

First up is Brother, the fax/printer company.  Unless you are an SMB/SOHO you likely interact with Brother products at the office.  I happen to have an individual printer in my office that recently needed a new toner cartridge.  After opening up the box, along with a new cartridge I was greeted with a leaflet describing how to help Brother keep the old cartridge out of landfills.  Here’s what struck me:

* Clear directions – they provided a 1-2-3 process that was easy and fast.

* No hassle – they provided me with the FedEx shipping label and instructions on how to return the package, providing contact info to help find a drop off or arrange a pickup.

* They answered the question of “why Brother?” – in their short summary (3 sentence, 5 bullets), I know quickly understood why Brother is asking me to participate and was given an appropriate level of detail on the program they have undertaken as an Energy Star partner.

Next up is Left Hand Brewing, the fine Colorado-based providers of a a close buddy of mine’s favorite Milk Stout.   A pure consumer brand, Left Hand interestingly doesn’t tout their green cred as clearly as I think they should on their packaging or their site.  They do have a note on the top label of their bottle describing how the beer was brewed with clean energy from SimpleSolar.com electric systems.  However it was only on one side in small print and I noticed it by accident.

Juxtapose this with another Colorado-based brewery New Belgium, the home of Fat Tire and other beers.  New Belgium talks more openly and in larger print/detail about their sustainable efforts on their site and packaging, with a link to a sustainable sub-page and a front page banner ad about a 1% for the planet initiative.  Pretty stark difference from what I would consider prime competitors.

With sustainable and green marketing still evolving, its interesting to see how these diverse companies approached the issue and how much emphasis they applied given their products and cultures.  It’s clear both B2B and B2C can gain positive customer impression from promoting their bona fides if done in a) a non-obtrusive way that b) supports the overall culture, bringing along with it competitive differentiation as well.

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Local Government – Going Far Enough to be Green?

We traded in our 11-year-old VW for a new car this week, creating a series of governmental department interactions.  Since we live in the city, a new parking sticker is required, along with Fast Pass, plate registration and excise abatement on the docket as well.

Net net on the experience – Boston city government gets an A for effort, B- for execution.  Giving each function a grade just like sports reporters do after each week’s Patriot’s game….

* Registration – Through the “Drive” program and with insurance info coordinated on my end, the dealer was able to electronically register the car on my behalf and print a new registration on premise.  No lines, no fuss, all electronic.  Grade – A.

* Fast Pass – With username and password on hand, was able to update the car info online.  However I had to call the next day to have them send me a new adhesive set for the windshield.   I understand they don’t want to just greenlight new adhesive to avoid people gaming the system with one pass on multiple cars, but the password and online input makes my request documented and traceable.  I should be able to order those online easily enough, and all those calls add cost and carbon footprint via extra call center reps/location/phone lines, etc.  Grade – B.

* Excise Abatement – cityofboston.gov site was personally very hard to navigate, and after searching for 15 minutes and only finding housing abatement info on hand, I decided to call the next day.  There is an online form available, however I needed to print it out and mail it along with a few copies of the new car details.  Why not have the option to scan and submit everything online?  My previous excise bills were available online, so I assume everything from that department gets manually entered/scanned at some point.  Automation could save significant time and money here.  Grade – C.

* Parking Sticker – Requires in-person visit to City Hall with multiple documents.  To ensure there’s no freeloading and reduced street parking congestion, it’s a good system.  9-4:30 daily hours and no online expediting = huge pain and no efficiency.  These stickers are tied directly to plate numbers, and I have to think there’s some automation that can take place, since I can re-order stickers for the same car every year online.  Grade – F.

The city officials a few years ago talked about moving much of the government functions line the ones above online for efficiency and positive environmental impact.  They have also been promoting a new recycling program over the past 6 months  (ironically via direct mail.)   Like any corporation or brand, once you announce you’re going to be more sustainable, you have to walk the walk.

This experience was a reminder for me that some departments (like some brands) have truly embraced the power of online customer service in the name of efficiency and sustainability, while others are (predictably) lagging behind.  I can’t remember the last time I stepped into the DMV, however the parking department needs to see my smiling face each time I transfer to a new vehicle.  And yet to me, it’s all one megalith under the “city government” moniker – something to keep in mind for larger brands like GE or P&G that have silo departments or sub-brands.

It’s an evolution, and although there is still work to be done I applaud Boston for stepping up and making progress to date.  Now if only I could add value to my Charlie card online….

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The Individual and Sustainability

Inspired by sports legend Peter Gammons and his Boston Globe Diamond Notes column from the heyday of the Boston Red Sox, this is the first in a regular ongoing series of posts.  These posts will catalog quick impressions on how the individual consumer impact and influence on brand marketing and larger sustainable projects.

* Sears – Caught a new commercial from Sears this weekend during my regular Sunday Meet the Press viewing.  Focused on the RAD program responsible appliance disposal within EPA standards.  Sears uses the generation gap and “hip” language in the piece.  Interesting service, but not sure when “rad” was still part of the lexicon of youth.

* The consumer’s role in energy consumption is becoming higher profile.  Check out this short piece from the BBJ.  It’s you and I that will be more in control vs. the utilities, and they have a large enough financial interest to start really listening.

* High speed rails – Post-State of the Union President Obama was in Tampa talking about his plan.  I’ve seen an uptick in the coverage on these trains, like this piece from this month’s Wired.  I’m getting flashbacks to Singles and the lunch meeting between Campbell Scott and Tom Skerritt – “if we give them good coffee…”  Individual consumer choice will drive success or failure of these systems.  Having experienced European rail systems, I’m all for this as long as its affordable.

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