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Nine Design Strategies to Inspire Sustainable Profits | Part Twelve

March 1, 2019

Nine Design Strategies to Inspire Sustainable Profits | Part Twelve

#6 AVOID THE ‘GRANOLA BRANDING’ TRAP

After Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” hit the mainstream, being “green” became the coolest thing since sliced (whole-grain) bread. Soon magazines everywhere began playing up the importance of greening everything from toothbrushes to toasters, with the most shameless profusion of green puns ever observed. Meanwhile, on the design front, being truly eco-chic seemed to require product developers to strip down all color from their packaging, displaying only colorless hemp-like papers and fabrics, invariably accented by at least one good splash of vibrant green (usually in the shape of an abstracted plant, tree, or leaf).

At AW we don’t have a particular problem with this earthy design style. In fact, we’ll openly confess to having a bit of that design streak buried deep down in our company’s collective unconscious. But, having had the opportunity to help brand more than a few sustainable products and services over the years, we feel it important to announce that the days of mainstream granola branding are now officially over. This isn’t to say that certain naturally branded products will not still do well with the LOHAS crowd (such as, for example, the excellent packaging by Pangea Organics), but rather to urge you to consider taking a different approach, especially if your products are targeted towards the mainstream.

The problem with granola branding is that for every customer who loves this particular look and feel, there are probably several who dislike it. Environmental mindedness– once the province of a hearty, passionate group of activists– has now become a national, even global imperative. The good news here is that a new generation of eco-friendly customers is just waiting for the right products or services to call them into a more sustainable product-purchasing repertoire. Perhaps then, design brands of today will enroll everyone into a non-partisan, eco-friendly future.

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