Beyond colour; demonstrating real sustainability and social impact

social impact brands

Sustainability branding is no longer about ‘eco’ colours or colour washing.

Brands used to highly depend on their packaging and look to communicate their ‘eco-friendly’ mission. They overly used shades of Greens and Browns to show their roles in fighting climate change.

Now, brands are dropping the eco-visual cliches to focus more on their brand messages and actions. More than ever, brands need to live their values and beliefs and this goes beyond simple visual cues of what is eco-friendly. It’s also now as much about social as well as environmental impact.

Here are some examples of brands that have moved away from the mainstream eco/earthy look to create more impactful and authentic brand engagement – and are genuinely committed to positively impacting the world.


social impact brands

From humble beginnings in Melbourne in 2008, Thankyou set out to provide a better choice for bottled water. The organisation wanted to turn what they called a ‘silly product’ that shouldn’t exist into a force for good.

The social impact business then quickly grew into a broad range of products that are now available globally.

Thankyou has now stopped producing bottled water. It is now focused on ‘bringing consumers a product choice that exists for one purpose only; to help create a world where not one person lives in extreme poverty.’

Since 2008, Thankyou has raised $AUD 17.57 million towards its mission.

Again, the brand takes its design cues from other premium product categories, rather than trying to look overtly eco, green or sustainable.

Who Gives a Crap

sustainable, eco conscious, brands

Not only has Who Gives a Crap introduced a sustainable way for Australians to wipe it’s made toilet paper look and feel fresh, fun and exciting.

A brilliant idea of ‘toilet paper that builds toilets’ was brought to life with a cheeky and irreverent brand. It’s a brand that doesn’t let you down – while you’re on the loo or in its bigger promise to change the world.

The brand’s vision for zero-waste living is reflected in all its messages and initiatives. But they didn’t have to go for the green and ‘Love Mother Earth’ path.

Recently they introduced and promoted “carbon neutral shipping”. This is a successful example of how a brand’s offer has to align with the brand’s DNA.


purpose led branding, sustainable brand

Patagonia has been a global leader in purpose-led branding.

Unlike most of the fashion industry, Patagonia has a strong tradition of activism, rallying against consumerism and pushing for change. They even tax themselves for the planet’s benefit.

Everything is driven by their beliefs and was further demonstrated by their bold and now famous ad ‘don’t buy this jacket’.


And leading the charge for upcycling down under are our friends, Upparel.

Originally launched as a colourful and fun sock subscription brand, ‘Manrags’ has now been completely superseded by something much bigger.

Founders Tina and Michael realised their brand was part of a massive textile waste issue and they needed to be part of the solution. They started the world’s first sock recycling programme and this quickly evolved into a global circular fashion concept.

Working together with founders Tina and Michael, we originally started on a path to refresh the Manrags brand. Within a few months, we had crafted a much bigger purpose. A completely new brand was developed and Upparel was born.

With a mission to change the whole system, Upparel is now Australia’s and New Zealand’s leading textile recycling company.

Two years on, it’s great to see Upparel continuing to grow and make a significant and meaningful impact. Upparel has diverted 800,000 Kg of textiles from landfill, saved more than five million items, upcycled more than 1.7 million items and reused more than 3.6 million items.

Moe AlHorub

Images courtesy of Thankyou, Patagonia and Who Gives A Crap.


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