Can Sustainability be a Brand?

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The 2009 Sustainability Conference kicked off last night in Monterey, CA with opening remarks from among others, Owen Rogers, Partner and Experience Design Lead of IDEO.   A self-described non-expert in sustainability none-the-less first laid out five principals on branding then asked whether sustainability could be a brand?

Whether there is sound reasoning or “the answer” to how brands can change the world to positive effect is not the point.  Owen, Duke Stump, Chief Architect of North Star Manifesto, and a few others’ who spoke, gave the audience hope that indeed this conference will bear out its reputation for evolving the discussion on how brands can effect positive change in the world.

Much has happened in the last year, for better and worse.  And while Jez Frampton, Group CEO of Interbrand spoke of the ever-present adoption barrior that marketers need to make it easier for consumers to choose more sustainable products, Duke Stump pointed out that there are still indicators that change is in the works.  He cited that volunteering is up and criminal records searching is down in NYC, a good omen.  He noted that the Acumen Fund, a global venture fund using entrepreneurial solutions to end global poverty, received 700 applications for 10 internships.   And he proposed the analogy of “brand as bonfire” – a mechanism for engaging conversations and developing relationships.

There are four solid days of workshops and speakers lined up for this year’s sold-out conference.  And there are architects, investors, scientists, technology experts and of course, lots and lots of marketers here to discuss how branding can change the world.  Sustainability is the current platform for evolving this discussion on more responsible products, consumer behaviors and operating mechanisms.  Stay tuned for more…

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