Guest Blog By: Michelle Miller, The Green Marketing Academy™
Michelle Miller is the Owner & Creative Director of Minty Made, a full-service branding, web design and marketing studio based in Seattle, Washington. She is also the Founder of The Green Marketing Academy™, an online course, certification and training program that helps businesses, marketing professionals and teams adopt sustainable, ethical and inclusive marketing practices.
Build a Foundation with Sustainable Branding
Sustainable branding is one of my favorite topics to nerd out on, which is why it’s the very first tip I’ll be sharing. Diving into this first is also quite intentional–from a marketing standpoint, branding is the foundation of your organization’s or business’ identity.
But how do we define sustainable branding? I often like to explain things in reverse, starting off by explaining what something is not, to better explain what it is.
There are several pieces to the branding pie that go far beyond visual identity. If I have any Brand Strategists reading this, this is the work that we typically do with our clients well before we determine what visuals will be used in the brand identity.
Under the umbrella of sustainable branding, we have:
- Voice / Messaging
- Color Palette
Keep in mind, there are many intricate details that go into each one of these that we spend several hours researching, but the point that I want to reinforce is that sustainable branding doesn’t simply come down to having the color green in your logo or not.
Sustainable branding is a two-fold concept. By addressing each area listed above, the objective is for your branding to stand the test of time and continue to call in value-aligned clients and customers. The other side of the coin is making sure your messaging around the steps you are taking to make your business sustainable are reflected in your copy and messaging (keep reading for more on that!)
Be Mindful of Your Digital Carbon Footprint
The internet allows us to send emails, share pictures, download music and stream videos at a click of a button, but our intangible online habits and screen time all contributes to the digital carbon footprint. Every photo we share, email we receive, video we download and hours of scrolling has an environmental impact. Most people, including myself until a few years ago, have never given much thought as to how their daily internet usage produces carbon emissions. With over 60% of the global population now connected to the Internet, the digital behavior of each of us can make a difference over our lifetime, without a doubt.
Go Greener with Your Website
The second tip has enough substance to be a blog post on its own, but I also know from experience that learning about this for the first time can feel overwhelming. Websites, as part of the digital carbon footprint, are one of the primary channels used to advertise our business. If designed strategically, this should be a central tool and focus on your marketing. So how can we build and design them to be more environmentally friendly?
- Choose a green website host. Opting for a hosting platform that ideally runs on 100% renewable energy typically allows you to significantly decrease your website’s carbon footprint. Our recommendation is to also choose a host that has servers that are close in proximity to your business’ location; this way, data doesn’t have to travel as far.
- Compress your images before you upload them. Images carry a lot of unnecessary weight and they usually account for the bulk of page weight if you examine your site using Digital Beacon’s website carbon calculator. We are able to get away with this because of the lightning fast internet speeds these days, but one of the easiest ways to decrease your page weight is to use an image compression tool before uploading them to your site.
- Delete or condense inactive pages that you no longer need. Did you know that currently, there are around 1.14 billion websites in the World. 17% of these websites are active, 83% are inactive. Knowing this, deleting old sales/launch pages, pages that you meant to launch but never did, and anything else that isn’t serving you right now is a great way to eliminate unnecessary carbon from your website.
- Clean up unnecessary plugins or embedded code. If you’re on a plugin friendly platform like WordPress, deleting unnecessary plugins, coding snippets or embedded code from analytics tools that were written in and forgotten can also help alleviate page weight and load times. Plus, a faster loading site means that it is better for SEO!
Infuse Transparency and Ethics into Your Copy and Messaging
Part of including environmental or social impact statements on your marketing channels is making sure that you aren’t making false promises to your audience.
Being transparent about your green efforts online is important, because a lack of transparency or detail here can be linked to greenwashing. We all start somewhere, so don’t be afraid to share the areas you need to improve as well as the things you’re doing well.
This same principle also applies to social media – focus on educating your audience as much as is reasonable for you, and only promote your products/services after you’ve provided added value.
Be Intentional and Strategic with Your Email Marketing
Despite the rumors of email marketing being a thing of the past, our studio has found the opposite to be true. Sending authentic, strategic emails with valuable information and inspiration has resulted in far more engagement and bookings than any other online marketing channel.
With that said, ensuring that you take a strategic approach to email marketing allows you to be consistent and relevant to your audience. We’ve had potential clients on our email list for years before they are ready to reach out and book a project with us. But again, email marketing plays the long, sustainable game. And lucky enough, my friend and host of this blog, Bev, can help you get started with building your sustainable email marketing strategy.
One Step at a Time!
If you take anything away from this post, my top recommendation is to start with one step at a time. Even though these are only 5 tips out of hours of lessons that I teach within The Green Marketing Academy, we continually work with other marketers and business owners to make these changes at a pace that is manageable for them. Remember, sustainability starts with you and your own capacity and energy.