#Brandspeak: The Powerful Link between our Environment and Brand Equity

What is Brand Equity?

Brand Equity refers to a value premium that a company generates from a product with a recognizable name, when compared to a generic equivalent. Companies can create brand equity for their products by making them memorable, easily recognizable, and superior in quality and reliability.
It has been found that CSR practices help businesses to differentiate themselves from competitors and enhance brand equity ,
This said, a sustainability program that is consistent with a brand’s positioning will create value for companies by creating more value for its brands by generating demand for products and services 
A study from Carbon Trust, a UK-based consultancy that helps businesses to reduce their carbon emissions, shows that social and environmental concerns can result in changes in consumer behavior. Among several factors that provoke this shift are “issues of immediate personal impact” and “realistic available choices.”
That’s where brands in Nigeria can grow their brand equity by helping the consumer make better decisions in their disposal of used product packaging;by improving their environmental footprint.
With the recent flooding on the Lagos Mainland which pushed out a huge amount of refuse especially of the plastic kind ,due to clogged drains and canals example: Akobi street, Surulere, Sango-Otta and others. It goes without saying that brands, in long-term survival mode need to be more particular about the environmental footprint of their brands. One service brand is making a difference in this space, though they are not the originators of such pollution, is Sterling Bank PLC.
Over recent years, they have slowly evolved from merely branding and equipping street cleaners to beautifying street junctions and now recently full involvement of their staff in community cleaning; walking their talk-truly sterling behaviour. It is worthy of commendation because even brands whose packaging generate the non degradable materials  which clog up drainage channels stand aloof….adding to pollution and its nasty downsides.
Other results of this unconcern with used packaging is also self impacting faking of products is now more rife than ever from the use of ill-disposed packaging to deceive unsuspecting consumers which will affect brand equity in the long run and influence them to switch brands once they discover a good alternative via word of mouth, from friends,family and in marketplace.
In North America-Coca Cola is doing a great job,   http://www.coca-colacompany.com/our-company/sustainability-update-sustainable-packaging.

To specifics for Nigeria:
For Quick Service Restaurants: Research alternatives to your plastic, Styrofoam packs as well as the nylon bags for ‘take away’. A QSR newly opened in my vicinity, they insisted I bring back my plastic container if I didn’t want to buy a new one, when I asked for a foil pack (which I thought was environmentally better and cheaper).

Taking it further, they need to take a stand and explain to customers why it would benefit the environment.

The entire process from kitchen to the mouth of the consumer needs to be audited for environmental impact. Aside from the inherent benefits for the environment,the brand will be seen as more thoughtful and caring.
Brands using Plastic Bottle Packaging known as the ‘PET Bottles’ need to think of alternative ways to which used packaging can be put to better use without affecting waterways and surrounding land and for greater social impact. HOW?
They can fund research on sustainable building of homes with plastics,household energy creation e.g. solar light bulb using plastic bottles filled with bleach….see http://literoflightswitzerland.org/idea.html
  • Empowering and incentivizing local recycling companies to seek out and dispose discarded materials.Check out Recyclepoints.com and Wecyclers.com
  • Start thinking about Refill stations- Phillipines Franchise model: useful for most liquid household products where the consumer brings his container back and gets a refill ( a win-win on both sides) cost of plastic packaging is eliminated and product is cheaper!!! This is more advisable for non food products  except one is prepared to win any local regulatory war.

Retailers also can slowly start to move their customers away from using polyethylene shopping bags to reusable jute or fibre material shopping bags

Brands can kickstart the process by doing the following:

  • Conduct surveys to find out what can motivate their consumers to dispose empty packs at designated  branded collection bin-points (promotions or outright cash incentive). They can then implement, sustain and amplify such ideas with improvement over time.The environment is not a three-month cause,it is for a lifetime– ours and future generations. It,just like the brand will outlive the brand managers who come and go.
  • Devote resources to this cause and make sure their consumers know and appreciate this.

In the current economic dispensation,any brand that can encourage sustainable disposal of its packaging is sure to earn the consumers affection as increasingly brand environmental impact has a negative perception.

Brand Equity will definitely grow from this environmental thoughtfulness and such activity can even be carried out alongside the numerous music, movie and  beauty show sponsorships which brands favor (another area brand owners can research into for the long-term health of their brands!)

What footprint is your brand leaving behind – from production to end usage? After it leaves your consumers hands? How does this affect your brand in both the short and long-term?
Research, Action and Measurement (RAM) is surely the profitable way to go, brands!!!!
Have questions, send us an e-mail at inquiry@mmonitorconsulting.com
  • Brand Equity and Corporate Responsibility (McElhaney-2008)
  • A review of brand valuation methods(Ashkan Pakseresht ,2010).

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