So you want to push a more environmentally friendly message about your brand, but do you run the risk of greenwashing your marketing? Here are the dos and don'ts of making 'green-claims'.
What is the Green Claims Code?
The green claims code is the set of government guidelines that brands must follow to make green claims or eco-friendly claims.
When a business makes a 'green claim', it's vital that those claims are genuine and clearly describes the impact a product, brand, business, or service has on the environment, with evidence to back it up.
Businesses cannot be misleading in any way or make untrue claims. Not only will this be breaking advertising and consumer laws, but it is seen as greenwashing.
What is Greenwashing?
Greenwashing is when businesses, through their marketing and PR, make their brand, products, or services appear environmentally friendly or ecological when they have no positive impact on the environment.
Being environmentally friendly is something that many consumers consider necessary when buying from or working with brands. This has led to many businesses claiming that they are 'greener' than they are.
What is an Environmental Claim?
Environmental claims suggest that your product, service, process, brand, or business is better for the environment.
Within the Green Code, there are specific guidelines that your claims must fall under to ensure you're being truthful and not misleading in any way.
- Claims must be truthful and accurate.
- Claims must be clear and unambiguous.
- Claims must not omit or hide important relevant information.
- Comparisons must be fair and meaningful.
- Claims must consider the full life cycle of the product or service.
- Claims must be substantiated.
Claiming Your Business is Environmentally Friendly
More and more businesses see the advantages of making their products or services eco-friendly and more sustainable.
Not only does this benefit the planet, but it can also help increase sales, with consumers putting a greater emphasis on the importance of green brands.
But how do you know if you can claim that your business is environmentally friendly?
Businesses making or considering making environmental claims need to:
- Comply with any sector or product-specific laws that apply to them or their products and services.
- Read the government guidance and ensure that they are complying with their consumer protection law obligations.
- Consider carefully whether they need to make changes to their practices.
- Make any changes necessary to comply with the law.
- You must not make false or deceptive statements.
- You must amend claims to ensure they are compliant.
- You must ensure you have the evidence to substantiate claims.
- You must give consumers the information they need to make informed choices.
Incorporating Eco Messaging into Your Marketing
Having a green or eco-friendly marketing message can do a lot for your businesses, from increasing sales, attracting a wider audience, and improving your brand image. Still, it shouldn't just be for your marketing and should be a fundamental part of how you do business.
Have A Strategy
If you want to incorporate eco messaging into your marketing, it's crucial to have a strategy in place.
Many businesses make claims without thinking about what those claims mean or whether those claims are on-brand. Only make claims that genuinely fit your brand's core message and ethos. This needs to be something that all areas of your business are doing.
A good example would be a greeting card company pushing the message that they only use recyclable paper and plant trees for every card sold. This eco messaging makes sense for them, as both claims are directly related to its products and 'offset' damage to the planet.
Don't Shy Away from Details
Keeping your eco messaging clear and concise is key in all aspects of your marketing, but you still need to provide consumers with enough information.
Not only will this help to inform your target audience properly, but it also ensures your eco messaging doesn't look superficial or false.
Consumers are becoming wise to businesses making false green claims. You don't want your eco messaging to be seen as a marketing ploy or, worse, as greenwashing.
Tips for Incorporating Eco Messaging
Here are my tips for ensuring your eco messaging is on point:
- Although technical terms are sometimes needed, try to use straightforward language.
- Don't exaggerate your claims. This will only backfire further down the line.
- Only use statistics and information that you can back up with evidence/trusted sources.
- Although your messaging might be more concise on social media platforms, always be able to direct your customers to more information, ideally located on your website. For example, see our social impact page.
- Think about working with known environmental organisations or campaigns to give your eco messaging more credibility.