Interviewed for LBC in a special report, Giles Robertson, founder and Managing Director of Green Banana Marketing discusses his companies’ day-to-day work in the agency. Also, the pleasure he and the team have of working at the O2 Workshop in Central London.
We aim for a greener, fairer and more sustainable world, working with our clients. GBM is trying to follow this philosophy in their day-to-day work and the workshop helps deliver here, as it is a more efficient and effective space for all!
At first glance the Green Deal seems like a great scheme to become involved in. But then why is it that after 9 months and over 70,000 assessments, only 12 homeowners have benefitted from actual changes to their property?
The Green Deal is largely suffering from a miscommunication of ideas and a reluctance to get involved in a scheme which seems to add to personal debt for the sake of none but the environment; that big green thing that so few care to help unless it is mutually beneficial.
The pressing question we must ask now is what can the minds behind the Green Deal do, if anything, to change these misconceptions and remove the growing stigma around their initiative? Many have attempted to answer this question; the All-party parliamentary group for excellence in the built environment determined that the scheme will struggle to succeed “without additional incentives to encourage action”; editor of Business Green James Murray proposed that a partnership with the help to buy scheme could prove beneficial; whereas Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis maintains that the scheme would benefit from several minor changes such as shorter loan repayment lengths and a removal of the assessment fee.
All of these amendments would doubtless attract new interest to the scheme, however all constitute relatively large changes, many of which are not possible for the initiative to take.
It seems the scheme is destined to endure a lengthy struggle towards uncertain success in the future, however would comparatively minor changes help in any way to avoid this?
Could the focus change from the “loan” status of the initiative to the fact that the homeowner’s monthly costs are unlikely to increase in spite of the loan? And furthermore that once loan repayments are fully made monthly energy bills are likely to reduce significantly?
Could it be made clearer that the debt incurred is not personal? Or that the repayments are taken automatically through your energy supplier and so no additional bills will be added to your monthly administration?
The Green Deal has been subjected to a lot of negativity, and many are keen to offer advice about how best to remedy this; with large, policy changing alterations and additions to the benefits already offered. Few seem eager, however, to entertain the idea that the Green Deal has the potential to benefit many as it stands, and may simply need to place a strengthened focus on these benefits, while simultaneously removing some of the focus on factors which property owners may interpret as unattractive.
It seems apparent to me that were the Green Deal Finance Company to implement one or more of the following methods when promoting their scheme, they would receive at least heightened interest, if not participation;
A clearer, simpler explanation of exactly what it is they are offering, as offered by many external websites – http://goo.gl/Ru8T5V
A stronger focus on the potential benefits for the property owner, as opposed to the environment.
A diminished focus on the potentially off-putting elements of the scheme
The use of media to flag up the positives of the scheme
The provision of greater customer feedback portals, and extensive involvement in the discussion generated.
The scheme undoubtedly has positive and negative aspects, as all schemes do, however what seems both positive and negative for the Green Deal is that each plus point will be deemed negative by some, and each negative point will be deemed positive by others. The Green Deal thus finds itself in the awkward position of being relatively complex in addition to providing varied benefits. Though not a lost cause, it seems a lot needs to be done to move the spotlight from pitfalls to positivity.
“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well”
Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon
Branding is a fundamental strategic process that involves all parts of the organisation and is as important for charities as commercial brands. It is for the most part no longer seen as a ‘dirty word’ for charities. Today, more than ever, charities must build the essence of their brand to retain and engage people behind the living ‘charity brand’.
The brand must always deliver value defined in consumer terms. It is a continuing and evolving relationship with users and must be maintained as a living organism.
As noted by Aaker, David Ogilvy said, “brands are part of the fabric of life” where Jeremy Bullmore said, “just about the only thing brands have in common is a kind of fame”. Brands are sometimes contradictory and mean different things do to different people- McDonald’s as part of everyday life, but is it famous? Porsche is famous but is it part of your life?
International brands can also lose touch if marketers do not maintain relationships and keep the brand alive and relevant to their consumers. O2, Waitrose, Bulmer and Samsung innovate in terms of the branding experience and through the customer journey, diversification and delivering green initiatives. Some brands like Tesco, Starbucks and Apple have seen their brand de-valued because of a lack of innovation, authenticity, soul and customer focus.
Here are 5 learnings from our recent shortcuts seminar ‘building your brand on and offline’ to maintain and grow your ‘charity brand’:
1. Build your charity brand foundation. Answer four simple questions about your brand:
- What is its personality (image)
It can be emotional (like Marie Curie) or challenging and impulsive (like Greenpeace)
- What are your aims
- What is its function
- What techniques do you use
- What is unique
The Cure Parkinson’s Trust aim is clearly represented in its name, it is to cure people suffering from Parkinson’s disease. The Trust finds a way – see their video ‘how to orchestral Parkinson’:
Communication should be consistent (and constant). Use all the relevant communication tools available to increase your brand visibility and hopefully audiences will identify with your charity brand. Innovate and try news things with ads, direct mail, PR, events, street marketing and so on.
3. Add value to your brand
Make alliances with companies and connect your cause to products. This has worked well for Whiskas and WWF Help Protect a Tiger.
Involve and give your supporters control to make them feel part of the project.
Adnams, the ethical brewery increased its communication by 80%.
It expanded its activities, created special ‘green’ beers like Fat Sprat and is involved in different communities and environmental projects.
4. How to deliver offline
Make sure your own people know what’s happening – your main ambassadors. Cultivate your partnerships; raise internal and external awareness through events and internal communication to maintain your charity brand. Street and experiential marketing are new ways of delivering (sampling, street theatre, experience and so on).
The Feed SA experiential campaign increased donations for disadvantaged people throughout South Africa. Placing decals showing hungry children begging for food in shopping carts, made it easy for shoppers to help “feed the hungry people”.
5. How to deliver online
External activity should be amplified online using videos and updates on social channels.
Buglife, the invertebrate charity, reviewed its brand identity, and we’ve helped build a more efficient website around their brand. Using personas and users journeys helped keep it relevant to their key audiences. Everything was created to make the brand stronger online and to involve the audiences. We refreshed the navigation and brand colours and all pages are device sensitive. The objectives are to increase members and to get more kids involved with activities to make the brand stronger. The new website is going live in early September.
A balmy evening at Lord’s cricket ground was the perfect backdrop for a ceremony and dinner to celebrate the sustainability successes of organisations, large and small. Kim Bailey, Associate Sustainability Practitioner and Giles Robertson Founder and Managing Director of Green Banana Marketing attended the event last week on the 10th of July.
Seeing so many people representing their companies with pride was a joy to witness. The winnerscame from an array of small-impassioned companies showcasing technological advances in energy and water management and even space technology in the case of Arla Foods. The glitz and glamour of the big companies came in the form of prizewinners, O2, RBS and Sky.
Fabulous food and drink, interesting conversations and a witty comedian made for a super evening.
And now the but ….I joined a networking group, so more facilitated networking and partnering opportunities with this interesting group of guests would be appreciated.
How about a safari style supper – swapping places between courses?
Our lovely client Buglife was keen to share how the invertebrate charity preserves the wildlife that turn the cogs of the planet, but with no name badges and penguin suits, we couldn’t find the people we wanted to speak to.
Martin Chilcott, Chair of 2degrees spoke of the importance of fun and values.
Here are Green Banana’s top tips for injecting more of both for next year:
Make it snappy – The winners had all chosen songs to collect their trophies by – great idea! How about using them for therather ‘worthy’ entry categories? Or poems, or film titles.Share – Showcase the way companies are doing business differently to conventional organisations.
Shine – Let’s hear the sustainability champions talk. They will all have a tale to tell. The case studies should be available on the night.
Stars – Funny’s great. Inspirational is better. There are some great sustainability talkers out there who make you feel you can reach for the stars not just admire them
Fun and Games – laughing at jokes is great. What’s more fun is interaction – how about using the great Lords’ lawns for after dinner croquet. Or a treasure trail, rather than a quiz?
Smart’s great – but comfortable is better and so much more individual, so trust us to turn up looking OK.
Variety is the spice – If sustainability is going to be embedded in companies, let’s talk to the unconvinced as well as the converted. We need a few more finance directors on the guest list.
So a super evening and if we get the chance to meet a few more guests, exchange and share vision and values and have more fun next year – a truly great evening will be had by all.
If I say Apple, Colgate, CNN, Coca-Cola, Canon, Volkswagen, people are immediately aware of what it is, where it is from and their degree of “attachment” to the brand or product. But the awareness around these brands has been nurtured, created, developed, and maintained by the companies’ brand strategists. Often with billions of pounds. Though we might not have the budgets in the charity sector, some of the learnings are useful and applied consistently, can be very effective.
Last century, the aim was to build and to develop a strong brand with the public through advertising. Nowadays, with the Internet and ever-tough competition all over the place, organisations need to build their brand’s reputation on and offline, and be as creative as ever to generate maximum interaction.
How do you develop an on and offline strategy that works? Should we talk about the word ‘brand’ for charities, which has only just stopped being a ‘dirty word’? How do we build strong engagement around your brand?
Here are a few examples of brands that have successfully managed both their on and offline strategy over the last few years. No doubt there will be a few surprises with our selection.
The story of Adnams, a small beer producer that is building its brand around communities:
Established in 1872, Adnams, as a “basic” retailer and pub owner, started to build life around its brands by relating its products to its mission and vision.
Adnams created a community around each of its brand. In 1990, it first built the Adnams’ charity to help people living within 25 miles from Southworld. Then it created a history around each branded beer.
And finally, they are helping protect the environment and sealife by supporting the Marine Conservation Society with the launch of the Fat Sprat beer and by using “green” distillery production. For example, they work with local farmers and producers; they use aneoribic digestion units, green roofs and bore holes to chill their brewery and the first carbon neutral bottled beer was made from hops grown locally at East Green.
The company maintains interest with its audience of the histories and builds real engagement and experience through brewery visits, events for the community and regular tweets. In 20 years they have built a strong offline reputation. Recently, they have started to develop this online reputation by refreshing their retail website, finely tuned to its audience needs, inviting them to participate in events, to comment, to interact on social channels and to built the story of their brand together.
Adnams expanded their activity, opening their Adnams Cellar & Kitchen shops to attract a new segment of women. “We were keen to appeal to the 50 per cent of the population we weren’t talking to – females.” says Andy Wood, Adnams chief executive and, in 2012, they won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Sustainable Development.
To what end – increased sales, visits, awareness? We’ll look at this when we meet.
Buglife building its brand to be the “one-stop-shop” for bugs
Created in the 90′s when there was no one organisation devoted to protecting invertebrates, Buglife became the first to do so in Europe.
Over the past 20 years, 1,000 active members have joined Buglife. In 2012, a strategy and business review, helped by the Tubney Foundation funding, identified opportunities to increase their membership to 10,000 in the next five years by growing awareness through the brand and establishing new partnerships.
Buglife worked on all aspects (a more contemporary logo , website, social channels, employee engagement etc.) of their brand “personality”, to create a stronger and more powerful “environmental charity”. Green Banana Marketing has been assisting Buglife in defining their priorities, brand image, audiences and digital assets including ‘developing a new’ website.
For their various audiences, offline, Buglife organise different events (including be-lines), children packs for schools to awareness of invertebrate causes through their campaigns like Neonics. Online GBM have worked hard to build an entirely new website, keeping their audience up-to-date and involved. The aim being to increase participation with main groups (media, public, policy makers and partners) and to help them understand and interact with the main issues, and supporting the ambition of being the “one stop shop” for Bugs.
These recent change gave Buglife the opportunity to review its mission and image, and to create even more real interaction with its audiences.
The online part of this project will be launched towards the end of July – so we will be able to give a progress report at our next shortcut on 26th of July.
Giles Robertson, Managing Director of Green Banana Marketing and associate Sustainability Practitioner, Kim Bailey, took part in a Google Hangout Session on whether consumers have turned-off from green and how marketing can switch them back on.
Check out the video on our You Tube Channel:
Here are the top 10 tips for marketing sustainability that came out of that conversation:
Create your own unique sustainability journey
Gain leadership from the top for an effective team effort
Drop the jargon, avoid ‘greenwash’, go for absolute clarity
Link-up with those in the know to lessen your environmental impacts. This can be with NGOs such as the Marine Conservation Society to work on marine projects or sustainability experts to gain the right standards and certifications
Develop credible targets and deliver tangible outcomes
Breakdown your vision into bite-size pieces
Use real people and real projects to tell your success stories
Be bold in your ambitions and actions and let people know about them
Social media is your best friend in creating conversations and motivating your customers, explain on a day-to-day basis how you are doing things and don’t ever tell porkie pies
Celebrate success & reward your customers. Place the emphasis on personal benefit and show how the greater good has benefited too.
Although the good old marketing strategies of knowing your customer and meeting them where they are in their environmental knowledge still holds good; sustainability marketing requires tangible proof for any claims. Promises need to be delivered.
Green Banana Marketing Ltd’sassociate sustainability practitioner, Kim Bailey, works with companies and charities to ensure that they are as green, smart and fair as they claim to be.
Why not make an action plan now of the five things you are going to tackle with your brand and marketing this summer?
These often discussed tasks keep getting pushed to the bottom of your to-do list. Set aside time now with specific dates for each task and spend a day planning each of them. Treat yourself to a nice lunch and have ‘a date’ with your ‘to dos’ and turn them into ‘dones’.
Our recommendations – although somewhat broad and of course non-specific to your cause and charity – would be the following:
1. Take a day to review each of your audience types. You should have personas for each type of person and user journeys as to how they interact and when you can prompt them to support you. Do you need to look in more detail about each of your segments? Six advantages of segmentation: Focus of the company / Increase in competitiveness / Market expansion / Customer retention / Have better communication / Increases profitability (marketing91.com)
2. Is your digital estate reflective of how people have or would like to interact with you? Do a social audit and write a social media strategy. 80% of social media users prefer to connect with brands through Facebook (Business2community)
3. How is my money spent? This is the biggest question current and potential supporters, from your experience, want to know the answer to. Is your charity explaining clearly how each pound is spent to them? What are the impacts and link this to numbers and quantities that are realistic and meaningful i.e. ‘the same as the UK population” and “the time it takes to make a piece of toast” work because they are easily understood and have a relevant context
Why not write-up meaningful case studies that demonstrate your work.
4. What is today’s brand story? Stooped in myths and no-doubt your organisation has a long history. People like to read about real people doing real projects, so bring alive the breath-and-depth of your organisation’s history i.e “delivering for the environment for the last 60 years” with the latest projects “here’s our snow leopard live tracking with Hans and his team…”
5. Use film. Make your story comes alive in 30 seconds; do have a three minute version (and a ten minute one too for potential partner meetings). About 46% of people say they’d be more likely to seek out information about a product or service after seeing it in an online video and it is the 6th most popular marketing content today (blog-eloqua.com)
In the days and weeks ahead, use the summer quiet period to make a difference. We could do the heavy lifting for you and deliver some of the above and help you tick off your to do list, before going back to school.
“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends”
Jeff Bezos, CEO at Amazon
Social media began almost a decade ago but it’s become a far more prominent and important part of most people’s lives than we could have predicted. It has become a more advanced version of the classic word-of-mouth – and companies try to use it as such.
Here are five tips to help increase your influence through social media platforms.
1. Know your online presence
Nowadays, almost all groups, charities, companies and individuals are running a social platform (or they should be). However, to make the most of your online presence, you need to be able to answer three fundamental questions:
What is my online presence? For instance, we’ve had clients not knowing about multiple Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook feeds, working inconsistently with different messages
Which social platforms best fit my supporter /audience base? For instance, Vine, the six second video sharing site, lends itself very well to WWF’s endangered species programme, but is perhaps less effective for the Samaritans’ support work
How are we measuring our influence online? Are we plotting and measuring where people go on our site, who is re-tweeting and what number of comments are we getting on our posts? (and, more importantly, how many people has this been fed on to)? Most platforms offer tools to measure how many times your pages or posts have been seen, the number of clicks per minute you’ve received, what content is the most appreciated (liked) by viewers, and so on.
2. Understand the best way to influence key audiences
Once you have found what is the best platform to reach your target audience, you need to find the best way to influence them through this channel. Should we produce posts, videos, photos and engage our target audience with games, petitions, actions, competitions etc? Keep them informed of how many actions and time spent equates to a certain level of influence. Amnesty do this really well, explaining that in 5 minutes you could sign a petition, with half a day’s support, you could attend a rally.
3. Produce shareable content – and make it easy to do so!
Most social platforms allow for the sharing of content so it is easy to engage with campaign videos, infographics, viral, posters, etc. in this most popular way. As stand out is tough on social platforms, all your creative talents should be focused on producing relevant photos to promote your posts and increase sharing opportunities. Make sure your content is not too heavy and long, and that people can quickly understand and share with their comments (and ownership). Heck, why not write a shareable chunk of text to go with posts, 140 word re-tweet friendly.
4. Consistent and flowing campaigns – don’t start and stop.
When you start being present on a social, make sure you keep your audience engaged by regularly posting information (at least twice a week). Show off past projects and successes, the difference you’ve made so far, your ‘storyboard’ or your personality – by interacting in this way, you will build engaged audiences. Keep you audience up to date. But don’t bore them.
5. Finally, let others do the heavy lifting!
Relevant partners will happily use your content, so build your campaign and change strategy with this in mind. You may well be the trusted partner in this programme and you can make use of networks, which may well quickly get to 1.5million people – if you are working with O2 Priority Moments, for instance. This is well worth doing if it can build support and engagement in a meaningful and relevant way.
Some of the best charities and environment social campaign from the last year include:
Campaign “Touch Yourself” for Breast Cancer Awareness
The campaign launched in October 2012 by F Cancer and Women’s Health and Men’s Health magazines, aimed to promote early cancer detection through self-checks for breast lumps. A Facebook app was created to pledge to perform a self-check and share a variety of 14 pre-written postcards with friends, encouraging them to do the same.
This is the king of campaigns, a perfect example of how to use of social channels. Facebook was the main channel, with sharable content engaging the target audience and ways to encourage friends to do the same.
Campaign Twestival for Charity: Water
“On 12 February 2009, 200+ international cities hosted a Twestival (Twitter + festival) to bring Twitter communities together to raise money for Charity: Water”. One week later the charity water staff flew to Ethiopia to drill the first well.
They immediately posted videos on Twitter related to their work, with some “re-tweetable“ information about water conditions, and published funds raised for each city. The Twitter activity allowed communities to engage, raise £174,899 funds for water projects, to build 55 wells, to serve water to over 17,000 people, and also to allow followers to see the day to day activity.