One of the things that is important when you talk about conscious branding – and I’m not 100 percent sure that everyone has grabbed that terminology and thinks that is exactly the right way to talk about it - but what is certain is that consumers are demanding something more from brands.  If brands treat it in an inauthentic way it’s going to backfire.  And we’ve seen lots of examples in the last 12 months of brands who have tried to do something that’s more conscious. I don’t want to be negative on any particular brand but H&M came out with a conscious line of clothing.  But when consumers did the research they found that the working environment was subpar, and it wasn’t up to the level of what a conscious brand would be.  

The lesson that I think brands have to understand is that we’re not going to a conscious brand overnight.  Consumers understand that as well.  I think you have to be transparent about the journey.  It’s one step at a time and as you take one step you have to also be honest with yourself about what tradeoffs you’re making and what you’re not doing.

And if you take it from that standpoint and you make it a higher purpose and you make it ingrained into your DNA, it’s not going to be a fad.  Because people think about fads as something that I jump on and then I jump onto something else.  And you can smell that a thousand feet away.  But if you are serious about it and you weave it into your DNA like Container Store, like Patagonia, like Starbucks, like Google, like Whole Foods, then all of a sudden you know what the road map is.  And my road map isn’t that I am the perfect brand.  My road map is that I care about people and I have a higher purpose for why I exist. And I can do some good in the world but I’m going to be transparent about where I am in that journey.

In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.

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