Ethical branding is a subset of ethical marketing which relates to certain moral principles that define right and wrong behavior in branding decisions. These brands generally act morally correct and do not harm people, animals and the environment. They also contribute to society and public good in a responsible, positive and sustainable way. Since ethical brands have become more favored in the past years an increasing amount of companies have been trying to incorporate ethical aspects like sustainability into their business activities.
However, this could just be a marketing strategy to enhance a firm’s reputation and achieve a greater turnover as a result. This essay therefore argues that oftentimes allegedly ethical brands are actually just greenwashing people. It first describes how ethical brands should be operating and then goes on to show that not every brand that claims to be ethical actually acts accordingly.
Ethical brands are positively contributing to society and the environment and align their business strategy with their individual values. At first, ethical brands need find their brand purpose, for example gender equality, zero hunger or climate change in order to establish a long-term strategy and define brand values and principles. Secondly their products and services should not be harmful to people, animals or the planet or as a matter of fact contribute positively to society like zero waste products which include reusable, biodegradable or unpackaged goods.
An equally important part of ethical branding is the production process where materials and packaging need to be considered and should be fully recycled, reusable, organic and non-toxic. Additionally, human rights need to be respected by ensuring safe and good working conditions, paying fair wages and not having child labor. Overall ethical brands are continuously focusing on their values in every aspect and while also being transparent about the company´s activities.
In many cases companies are trying to be perceived as an ethical brand as a marketing strategy to have an advantage on the market due to the increase of ethical consumerism.