Sustainable Brands Vancouver Redesigns the Good Life

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By: Whitney Dailey, VP of Marketing

Last week, the Cone team joined more than 2,000 attendees at the Sustainable Brands conference in Vancouver for four days of conversation around “Redesigning the Good Life.” With the stunning juxtaposition of Vancouver’s blue glass skyscrapers and snowcapped mountains as a background, sustainability and social impact leaders convened to share the progress made over the past year, the challenges encountered and how we can collectively redesign a better future for all.

Brands and organizations shared aspirational and inspirational messages and stories throughout the week – from Vancouver’s City Manager Sadhu Johnston who explained how Vancouver plans to be greenest city in the world by 2020 to REI’s ambition to awaken a lifelong love of the outdoors for all. Here are four ideas – some big and some small – that stood out to us last week:

  • No Legacy is Guaranteed: Jennifer Silberman, Vice President of Corporate Responsibility at Target*, kicked things off during a plenary session by revealing a truth about her brand. At the beginning of 2016, Silberman shared, traffic, sales and market share at Target was on a downward path. This was the moment the brand realized “doing nothing was not an option” and the impetus to transform its business and embed Purpose at its core. Target’s CR strategy was redefined with four key areas:  empower teams, serve guests, foster communities and design tomorrow. Why go down this path? Silberman imparted three simple statements: “Our legacy is not guaranteed. Transactional is not enough. Consumers demand more.”
  • Activism Can Breed Loyalty: During the “Brands Taking a Stand!” breakout panel, Ben & Jerry’s* Activism Manager Christopher Miller shared a key insight that although only 50 percent of Ben & Jerry’s fans know they do anything other than sell ice cream, their fans who know that the brand has a strong mission are 2.5 times more loyal. Lyft’s Mike Masserman shared a similar insight. While the ridesharing company “braced for pain” after its action related to the Muslim travel ban, it found that it actually experienced “the glow” of people saying that is exactly the kind of brand they wanted to align with.
  • Finding the Right Partner Isn’t Easy, But It Is Critical: Mike Pepperman, Manager, Corporate Social Responsibility and Community Relations at LG Electronics, explained the painstaking process of finding the right partners for its goal to enrich the lives of 5.5 million youth with skills for sustainable happiness over 5 years. That journey started with 114 potential nonprofits partners, which was then narrowed down to 30. Then the electronics giant did a deep dive into each before selecting its final five partners. Carleen Pickard of Lush Fresh Cosmetics shared a different approach to supporting nonprofits with its Charity Pot product where 100 percent of sales go to a cause. The “philanthropic skin softener” benefits small grassroots organizations working in the areas of environmental conservation, animal welfare and human rights and changes on an ongoing basis.
  • Scale Can Create Remarkable Impact: P&G Chief Brand Officer, Marc Pritchard, joined the SB plenary stage to dispel the myth that big business is inherently bad. Pritchard shared his proverbial “moment of clarity” while on vacation when someone cornered him to say “business will someday be the greatest force for good in the future.” Since then, Pritchard has been on a journey to use P&G brands as not just a force for good, but as a powerful tool to have a positive impact on the environment and society. Pritchard shared that not only do P&G’s 65 brands reach 5 billion people a day, it touches 100,000 retailers and 40,000 suppliers. The CPG behemoth is using its scale to drive impact, but also change behavior (like with Tide Coldwater Clean) and shift perceptions (as with Always Like a Girl).

As SB’18 Vancouver came to a close, it’s clear all participants left with a renewed sense of individual and collective Purpose; taking the challenges and the solutions, the insights and the inspiration back with us to apply as we all drive to Redesign the Good Life both in our work and in our lives.

How are you working to “Redesign the Good Life”? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter by using the hashtag #ConePurpose.

*Cone client