Nine Design Strategies to Inspire Sustainable Profits | Part Fourteen

Nine Design Strategies to Inspire Sustainable Profits | Part Fourteen


Just because the icecaps are slowly melting doesn’t mean you can’t still strap on the ice-skates and have some fun (metaphorically speaking). For years the airwaves have been filled with serious, messages that tend to stress people out and cause them to mentally resist taking action. As you seek to brand and market your sustainable products, why not take a different tact and make people laugh at themselves instead? Your customers will be grateful that you helped them take themselves a little less seriously, and– in the process of lightening up– they may even develop an unexpected fondness for your products and brand. Joy can do wonders for the environment, and for your bottom line.

At AW this is a lesson we learned the tough way. For years as we promoted our environmentally friendly world-view to clients, we found ourselves bumping up against a subtle mental resistance that slowly grew disconcerting. “Oh no, another person trying to make me feel guilty for the environment.” their eyes so often seemed to say from beneath an otherwise polite and welcoming face. In fact, our intention was never to spread guilt; it was to simply bring awareness and to make a difference. But still there it was– that all-too-familiar feeling of hopelessness and self-reproach. What were we to do? We didn’t want to give up talking about sustainability (the rock). We didn’t want to make people feel guilty either (the hard place). And then it hit us– a fun idea.

We rallied our team together and asked them to create an “Environmental Guilt Waiver,” a faux legal contract bestowing the recipient with a 24-hour exemption from all existential torment in connection with the environmental crisis for making simple positive environmental choices around the office. We designed them, and started dispensing them at business meetings. The result? People laughed. They loved it. After receiving the waiver, clients who might normally be resistant to discussing the environment open up more easily and take a more active interest in the topic. The whole idea of guilt disappeared in a puff of smoke.

How might some strategic levity help with your next branding project?

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