How Can You Create a Truly Ethical Brand?

Created: Wednesday, June 27, 2018, posted by Geetesh Bajaj at 10:00 am



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By Gus Bartholomew, Supplycompass

With the number of consumers putting ethics and sustainability at the top of their list when purchasing from a brand, and with the number of brands describing themselves as ‘sustainable’ or ‘ethical’ on the rise, more brands are asking themselves the how they can create a genuinely ethical brand. With terms like ethical, sustainable, conscious, responsible, transparent and organic often being used interchangeably, it can be confusing to know what word is right.

Each Brand is Different

Start by concentrating on how you will interpret sustainability for your brand, considering what interpretation of it best fit your company ethos, brand story and the products you make. You don’t need to set out to create a perfectly ethical or sustainable brand. Not only is this unachievable at the start, but it’s also not necessarily what consumers are expecting or looking for either. Keep it simple, start slowly and remember what stands out for consumers in a busy marketplace is a clear, singular approach to responsibility, that cuts through and resonates with them. A good exercise is to think about how you would like them to describe your approach to ethics and sustainability in one sentence. Which one of these are you?

  • A brand that cares about the people who make their products; fair wages, employee benefits and bonus schemes.
  • A brand that cares about where their raw materials come from; always ensuring they are sustainable and ethically sourced.
  • A brand who cares about what happens later down the line; focusing on the end of life and supply chain circularity [recycle – reuse – repair]
  • A brand who gives back; giving a % of their profits back into the country where they are made or to the local community.
  • A brand built on a durable design; making high-quality products that are built to last a lifetime.
  • An open brand; committed to full supply chain transparency right back to their tier two and three suppliers.

Ask Questions

Becoming a more responsible brand means being more conscious of your environmental and social impact and constantly striving to improve; throughout design development and production and across your supply chain. The best place to start is by being well informed and asking the right questions. After that, continue to question yourself every step of the way and think about whether there is a more responsible option. Right from the birth of a design idea, it should be front of mind for every decision made; from deciding on design details and picking raw materials, right through to selecting material suppliers, and finding manufacturing partners.

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Image: Pixabay

Choosing the Right Manufacturing Partners

When looking for manufacturing partners, certifications are always a good starting point to help you identify who might be the right fit, but go beyond this, and find out if a potential partner shares similar values as you and your brand. Tell them what’s important to you, the things you are willing to be flexible on and things you are not. For example, if it’s complete transparency you want, ask your partner at the start and if it’s not something they can offer or feel comfortable with, then they aren’t right for you. Don’t force it on them, look for a better fit.

To be a ‘genuinely ethical brand’, ethical can’t just be an add-on and something that is pushed in a marketing campaign.  To make a real lasting impact, to appeal to a more conscious consumer, and for your approach to appear genuine, ‘ethical’ needs to be part of your brand DNA from the start and to feel authentic to your customers.


Gus Bartholomew
   
Gus Bartholomew is a co-founder of Supplycompass, a tech-enabled end-to-end production management platform for responsible brands that want to find and work with the best international manufacturers. It enables brands to find their perfect manufacturing partner at home or overseas.

Brands can create tech packs, get matched with a manufacturer and use the platform to manage production from design to delivery. Supplycompass works with brands and manufacturers to embed responsible and sustainable practices in their businesses and deliver value and create opportunities for growth.


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