What is ethical, sustainable branding?

A guide to sustainable and ethical branding

A circular economy is about reusing and repurposing wherever possible to lessen our environmental impact. This blog suggests 6 ways to make even your small business brand more circular and sustainable

Sustainable and ethical branding can be considered more of a niche area; however, as more and more brands want to have a positive impact on people and planet, it’s something we can all start to consider. I’ve ran an Sustainable & Ethical Branding studio for many years now and it is something I am truly passionate about!

For me, sustainable branding is about far more than profit. It is about considering the impact of your brand has on the world, your people, and also how your brand experience shapes this. I believe that having a unique and well-thought-out, sustainable and ethical branding experience will help you to build meaningful relationships and trust with your audience.


In ethical & sustainable branding Actions speak louder than words

When you commit to building a sustainable brand, it’s important that all elements of your business – from the actual products to the marketing materials you choose to print (or not) – work together to create impact, desire and a ‘WOW’!

You can’t just ‘say’ you are an ethical, sustainable brand, you have to live and breathe it.

I’d like to tell you about a moment of sustainable branding disappointment I’ve had recently. I spent hours and hours trying to find an ethical backpack made in the UK from renewable sources. Eventually, I found one that looked great and also was kind to the planet, so I felt excited… until it arrived in plastic packaging! A big example of a brand who hasn’t considered every element of their ethical sustainable branding experience and I immediately lost trust and felt the ‘ethics’ was merely a marketing buzz word they had used.

Have you thought deeply and authentically about each aspect of your sustainable branding? Do you convey a consistent message in every single place people come into contact with it?


Consider your ethical & sustainable brand Impact

Sustainable branding is about more than just how things look and feel. It is about considering on a deeper level the impact of your brand on the wider world.

This takes into account things like waste reduction and offsetting, the causes you support, your packaging, the suppliers you choose, and how you promote diversity, the tone of voice and more.

There are many examples of brands that use their voice to make a positive branding impact on the world, for example sustainable clothing companies partnering with charities to create jobs paying a living wage for women in developing nations.

When I create sustainable brands this is all taken into consideration, from strategy, the photography to the words, to the way the brand puts itself out into the world and makes customers feel.


People over profit in sustainable & ethical branding

It is unethical to use manipulation or prey on people’s fears and inadequacies so they buy from you. If you consider yourself to be an ethical and sustainable brand, your brand strategy and marketing activities will prioritise people and their feelings, rather than just profits. You won’t resort to fear-driven sales tactics but will make customers feel empowered and encourage them to ethically purchase in a meaningful and intentional way. Sustainable and ethical branding involves considering how your posts and communication effects mental health and wellbeing of people, and also the planet.


Sustainable & ethical branding Challenges you will face…

One of the biggest challenges you will find when creating a sustainable brand is the cost of things such as cruelty-free ink, biodegradable packaging, and sustainable printing options, especially for smaller-scale projects. By communicating the value, and the investment people are making in your sustainable brand, you can encourage them to pay more for services or products that aren’t harming the planet.

You’ll also see lots of ‘green-washing’ when it comes to sustainable and ethical branding so it’s really important that you make clear your ethos in every touch point of your brand experience. 

Along with this greenwashing also comes with it sustainable branding cliches. No longer can brands get away with using green, you now have to really invest in your ethical brand experience to stand out from the crowd, draw people to you and make people understand what makes you WOW

It takes real commitment to a well-crafted ethical sustainable branding experience to make sure your customers resist going with cheaper options, which are often not the ethical choice.

If your business is built on an ethos of sustainability, then your customers will value the effort you have put into ensuring a consistent brand experience across all elements of what you do. Read more about creating a circular brand here.


If you’d like to work with me on your Sustainable Branding then explore my services here.


What is sustainable & ethical branding? A summary…

  • Sustainable branding is about thinking beyond just your profit, and considering the impact your brand has on the world. I mean this in both a physical and moral sense. For example if you are a beauty brand then is your messaging positive, encouraging and inclusive? Are your products focused on helping and empowering?
  • Sustainable branding involves thinking deeply and authentically about every aspect of your brand strategy and where people come into contact with it. If anything is amiss then you will lose trust.
  • Sustainable branding should come from a place of good and not manipulate or encourage people to buy through fear, inadequacy and manipulation.
  • Finally, from a practical point of view sustainable branding involves considering the impact your brand has on the world. From choosing sustainable packaging options and suppliers and reducing your waste, to supporting your community and good causes.

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