Did you know that the Philadelphia Eagles were a “green” organization? Well, everyone knows their color has been green starting with the 1948 NFL championship team, but now we’re talking about green, as in sustainability.
Ben Block, marketing and communications specialist for Clean Markets, chose the green Eagles as the subject for his case study for the Feb. 23 Sustainable Business Network’s of Greater Philadelphia (SBN) quarterly Best Practice Forum: Branding and Messaging for the Sustainable Business, held at WeWork Market Street in the Five Penn Center building in Center City Philadelphia. In using the Eagles’ sustainability initiatives as a starting point to discuss best messaging practices for promoting a sustainable business, Block kicked off a lively discussion among the assembled SBN members and panelists Sharon Gallagher (Sage Communications), yours truly
Michael Kleiner and John Shiffert (Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design) and Steve Rosen (Aloysius Butler & Clark).
The SBN community is comprised of members dedicated to incorporating sustainability into their mission. However, they face a significant challenge when communicating values to customers and the public. Thus, to help differentiate themselves as authentic and principled, SBN members need to develop a communication strategy that seamlessly incorporates their sustainability practices and goals into their brand. Block and his fellow panelists were tasked to help the forum’s participants develop plans that communicate these efforts in a way that resonates with current and prospective customers. In addition to his Eagles case study, Block also presented data on branding strategies used in the energy efficiency and green building industries.
One issue that the Eagles’ study brought up was that of messaging outside of an organization’s main or central brand… both the “why” and the “how” of such messaging. The Eagles are, of course, a professional football team, near and dear to the hearts of uncounted thousands in the metropolitan Philadelphia area. However, as popular as the Birds might be, they are not personally relevant to every Philadelphian, as several of the forum’s attendees pointed out (no, they weren’t Dallas Cowboys fans, they just didn’t follow football). Thus, the motives for Eagles’ sustainability efforts (as with all of the rest of their community engagement and involvement efforts) could well track to making the team more personally relevant outside of their main brand, a separate message that needs to be made distinct from the 53 players on the field.
Some of the other highlights of Block’s presentation, and the ensuing discussions, in addition to the concept of the necessity of making a brand personally relevant to as many audiences as possible, included another basic issue for SBN members, the fact that ecological and financial sustainability is still not universally understood. As is the case with many branding-related issues, the techniques to overcoming can be summarized in a run-on sentence… you need to use authentic storytelling with short-term imagery, and it doesn’t hurt to have fun in the process.
Simple, right? OK, maybe not so simple. If you want to know more about authentic storytelling with short-term imagery that also incorporates some fun, check with Michael Kleiner Public Relations and Web Design and mention “Kiwi Shoe Polish” for a discount.