Communicating your B Corp status and your impact story to the world can help your business connect with target audiences that are looking for brands that share your values. One big question that many B Corps are asking today is, How can we remain authentic while communicating our mission and our impact? As a B Corp certified digital marketing agency, our own team at JB Media has grappled with this very question.
Our Founder Justin Belleme asked Emily Allbritten to share her thoughts on this issue when she appeared on the panel discussion he moderated at SOCAP18 on the topic of Marketing and Branding for Social Impact Organizations.
As the Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Athleta, a B Corp certified athleisure-wear company owned by Gap, Allbritten helped lead her organization’s efforts to communicate their sustainability initiatives and B Corp certification to their audiences in the most authentic way possible. Here’s what she shared about telling Athleta’s B Corp story.
Emily Allbritten On Communicating Your B Corp Certification
After we went through the long process of attaining our B Corp certification, the exciting next step was to go out and tell people about it. This was a bit of a struggle for us because the challenge and the amazing thing about the B Corp certification is that it covers your entire business–everything from your factories, employees, products, and customers. This entire view is hard to synthesize and make digestible to consumers.
The easiest sustainability marketing is to have one message and stand behind it. ‘Hey, many of our clothes are made out of xyz recycled materials.’ Great, customers understand that, and it’s easy, but we wanted to encompass all the many factors that go into the B Corp Certification to our customers.
The first thing we did was determine how to break the communication into areas of focus. We asked ourselves the following questions:
- What do we want to focus on?
- What do we want our customers to know about us?
We decided to focus on three areas: Sustainability of our products, Reducing waste, and Empowering women and girls. We’ve always had a focus on women and sustainability so we pared our messaging down into these buckets of focus and added an education element about what is a B Corp.
The messaging we debated during launch was: Do we go big and yell our certification from the top of the sky? Or, do we go small and say of course, we did this. This is a part of who we are as a company.
We ended up deciding to go big. We really infiltrated the messaging within all of our marketing channels; placed it in our catalog, added it to social media, put it in our store windows, and in our press releases and articles. Thankfully, it came back to us that B Lab (the nonprofit organization that certifies B Corps) was very happy we did—as we were helping make B Corp certification become more well known among companies and consumers.
We went out with the message of, “Today we’re proud to be a B Corp. Tomorrow we get back to work.” Our approach was humble. “Okay, we’ve worked really hard to get to this point, but we still have a huge amount of room to grow.”
Our biggest feedback was that a lot of our customers didn’t know what the B Corp certification meant, but they understand it represented something good and that they could feel proud about the purchases they made with us.
We’ve continued to ask ourselves post launch:
- How do we continue to push sustainability messages?
- How do we incorporate B Corp in everything that we do—rom our emails to our marketing, to continue to educate our customers?
Do the Right Thing
In striving to be authentic one of the things we constantly deal with is the question of What is the right thing? A lot of decisions that sound great are not always the best decisions for people or the planet.
For instance, one idea is if customers bring in a pair of pants for recycling they get a discount for a new pair of pants. That’s great in concept; you’re getting clothes back into the recycling loop and the customer is happy because they have a discount. The problem can be that you’re potentially shortening the life of a product by incentivizing someone to buy something new. So, you’re actually adding waste–not subtracting, which is the intention. Other studies have shown that this might not be the case, but it’s these kind of potential issues that we consider internally.
We’ve had a lot of conversations on the question of What are the right initiatives that provide the biggest positive impact? That has been the biggest focus for us and something we continue to think through in our business
This is one of a series of posts that feature insights from industry experts on the topic of marketing and branding for social impact organizations, taken from the session that JB Media Founder Justin Belleme curated and moderated at SOCAP18.
If you lead a purpose driven company and want to get more expert advice on social impact marketing, please read the other articles in this series:
- Purpose-Driven Marketing For Greater Impact: Tips From Anthea Kelsick, CMO of B Lab
- How Brands Can Work Together to Catalyze Social Change Movements: Wisdom from Anthea Kelsick of B Lab
- How Top-Line Revenue Goals Drive Marketing: Advice from Heather Watkins of Better Impact Marketing
- Discovering Your Brand’s Soul: Thomas Cumberbatch on How to Solve Your Identity Crisis
Watch the entire session focused on Marketing and Branding for Social Impact Organizations, recorded live at SOCAP18.