Growing Green

How Brands are Seeing Growth in a Sustainable Future

 by Caitlyn Scherer

Growing Green Design

Tomorrow is National Clean Up Day. If this is the first you’re hearing of this, chances are you’re not alone.

While many fun national awareness holidays provoke excitement (who wouldn’t want to partake in National Cookie Day?!), environment-focused holidays don’t always generate the same level of buzz. My guess is not simply that people don’t care, but rather that our current environmental situation can feel so intimidating that we question whether our individual involvement can truly make an impact.

This reaction to climate change has been the main subject of my day dreaming recently. There’s never been a better time to take action through the choices we make and the brands we support. And luckily for us, brands across industries are making some serious headway when it comes to delivering sustainable solutions that everyone can get behind. Consider the shift in verbiage alone. Innovative brands have been at the forefront of de-stigmatizing phrases like “vegan” with a strategic move toward more approachable “plant-based” language. The simple change helps frame vegan options as inclusive and “better-for-you” – a shift that’s moving beyond verbiage into brand innovation and design opportunities.

In honor of National Cleanup Day, we took a closer look at best-in-class examples of brands that are forging the way toward a more sustainable future by doing two things: understanding consumer behavior and designing it to make action easy. For anyone in business, consider how the following examples could inspire growth for your own brand through sustainability.


Tesla: Fueling Eco-Friendly Badge Value 

One of the greatest examples of how design can reimagine eco-friendly behaviors is Tesla. While many people are in awe of the brand’s technological achievements, I am most impressed by their ability to solve for one of the biggest barriers to adoption of eco-friendly vehicles: ugly car design. From compact body styles to offbeat colors to angular, futuristic features, electric vehicles that came before Tesla were, more often than not, a bizarre version of a normal car. Some model names had been just as lacking, ranging from overtly environmental to space-like – another barrier to consumer adoption and advocacy. Tesla knew they needed to bring a new vision that would drive badge value in a way that made electric cars sexy. By pairing best-in-class engineering with sleek, innovative design, Tesla has delivered a driving experience that doesn’t just match its non-electric counterparts, but by many standards, surpasses it.

Consideration: How can you rethink the overall look and feel of your brand to address consumer tensions and overcome potential barriers? 


Nest: Heating Up The Sustainability Game

Whoever thought thermostats could be cool? Nest has done a fantastic job at redesigning the thermostat to be something you would actually show off when friends come over. Even more interesting, it creates an interactive experience by promoting you to use less energy through gamification. Facilitated through its beautiful display, you can easily select “Eco Mode” and schedule times for the system to automatically shift to Eco. Every month that you decrease the number of hours you use energy, you get a leaf. I personally received 4 leaves in August and felt very proud and motivated to shift over to Eco more often!

Consideration: How can you motivate your consumers to positively change their behaviors through elements of gamification?


YETI: Taking Green On-the-Go

Part of the sustainability design challenge extends beyond brand design into meaningful branded experiences. Take YETI, originally a maker of coolers that has expanded to many outdoor lifestyle products. The brand took green on-the-go with its engaging and convenient hydration stations at music festivals, encouraging festival goers to fill up reusable water bottles as an easy alternative to plastic water bottles. Those without a reusable bottle could purchase a YETI at the adjacent booth. The activation was just as accessible as it was efficient, featuring five water spouts to keep the water and the lines flowing. The result: hydrated and happy consumers who could feel good about making an eco-friendly choice.

Consideration: How can you meet your consumers where they are by making sustainable options more accessible and convenient?

In the spirit of National Cleanup Day, addressing these considerations could be the first step towards sprouting your brand’s growth through sustainability and building lasting brand advocates.


Soulsight is a Chicago-based iconic brand design agency. Our mission is to propel brands to unlimited success through strategic design that drives consistent relevancy. We are known for delivering inspiring, category-leading creative and insights-driven strategic guidance for some of the world's best-loved iconic, global brands. We're a team of 60 multi-disciplined, strategic creatives who believe in the power of consumer-centric, design-driven branding. We build Soulful brands through strategic design. We are Soulsight.

David ThompsonSoulsight