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How to Differentiate Your Event

Borrowing Equity and Goodwill from Eco-Friendly and B Corp Brands

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As consumers, we all have our favorite and go-to brands for nearly every part of our lives. From the moment we wake up in the morning and start the day with our favorite coffee or cereal, get dressed in our favorite clothes, socks, and shoes, and end the day with our favorite meal and beverage, we are making choices as to what companies to purchase from. Our purchase decision can be as simple as what tastes the best to us or looks the best on us, but often the choice to try a new brand begins long before we place the product in our carts.

How many of the brands below do you recognize? 

Imperfect Foods
Manos Soap Co.
Sir Kensington’s 
Stumptown Coffee Roasters
Thrive Market 
Warby Parker 

I’d confidently wager any amount that, regardless of your demographic (gender, age, or location), even though you may not personally use any of the brands above, you’ve heard of more than a few. What causes you to remember some of the brands above while you can’t remember the new restaurant down the street or the brand of jeans your sister-in-law recommended?  

Having spent most of my education and professional career focused on marketing, I’d love nothing more than to be able to attribute this brand recognition to great marketing strategies. While in principle that checks out, we can’t discount the humans making these decisions and the feelings or emotions that contribute to their choices. Even the best ideas and strategies fall flat if they don’t make a deeper connection with the consumer. The brands above are all Certified B Corporations (they meet high standards of excellence in charitable giving, sustainability, or social initiatives) and do a great job making that deeper connection with the consumer or establishing brand equity. Their various humanitarian and environmental initiatives make us feel good, and that feeling makes it more likely for us to remember their name or logo.

As meeting and event planners, we can borrow this concept of brand equity or consumer goodwill to offer additional value to our events and sponsors. By partnering with a brand with high equity or positive environmental or humanitarian initiatives, we can not only borrow this concept but some of the brands' equity or deeper connections consumers feel about the brand. We’d all love to be able to secure Patagonia, TOMS, or Warby Parker as paying sponsors, but without a massive headline-worthy event or an unlimited budget to license their branding, this seems nearly impossible. 

Lucky for us, there are countless brands with initiatives that are available to source as branded giveaway or promotional items. Selecting a brand that is not only known for a quality product but also for the good they do will elevate your event and sponsor branding and allow you to borrow some of their established brand equity and goodwill. Below we’ll dive into the various initiatives and brands that support them as well as how to leverage their equity and goodwill to differentiate your event and offer increased value to sponsors.   

Certified B Corporations

These days being socially and environmentally conscious is trendy, which (unfortunately) means nearly every company is using the same buzzwords and promoting how they are positively contributing to the world. As consumers, it’s becoming increasingly important we make sure these companies are actually as great as they claim to be; as meeting professionals tying our event and sponsors’ images to these brands, it becomes imperative we perform our due diligence on the brands whose equity we choose to borrow. Don’t worry, we’ve taken on the legwork and removed the guesswork for you with the brands below! 

The easiest way to know if a company is a brand you might want to align with is to check if they are a B Corp using the Find A B Corp tool. B Corp Certification is a designation that a business meets high standards of verified performance, accountability, and transparency on factors from employee benefits and charitable giving to supply chain practices and input materials. In order to become certified, they must demonstrate high social and environmental performance, make a legal commitment to be accountable to all stakeholders, and exhibit transparency by making performance information publicly available. We’ve highlighted some of our most popular giveaway options from some of our favorite B Corps below.  

When it comes to promos, finding green solutions for bag options is a little more difficult than finding alternatives for plastic. Bellroy offers recycled, plant-based, and eco-tanned leather (meaning it uses fewer chemicals in the tanning process than traditional tanning) options on a variety of styles of bags and totes.  Like the two listed before, Bellroy is also allied with 1% for the Planet.

Karst Stone Paper
A unique, treeless paper that is redefining how we think about stationary. This paper is waterproof, completely carbon-neutral, and sustainably sourced. Aside from being a Certified B Corp company, Karst is also partnered with 1% for the Planet.  

Klean Kanteen
A popular name brand when it comes to drinkware. Klean Kanteen has a variety of styles and price points that are sure to fit into any budget.  These water bottles are all 100% carbon neutral, and Klean Kanteen is also partnered with 1% for the Planet.

Offering everything from water bottles to mugs to even pour-over coffee rigs, Miir is a company that is no stranger to giving back to communities in need of clean water. Miir partnered with Splash in 2016, and they’ve been donating a part of their proceeds to water filtration systems in schools and orphanages around the world.  This particular initiative has a commitment to transparency, and their project results are available to the public each year.

Aside from making high-quality, active life clothing, Patagonia strives to be constantly improving in the way of sustainability and activism. In addition to their 1% to the planet contributions, Patagonia also offers grants to grassroots, environmental groups, has services that connect volunteers to nonprofit organizations, and has converted 100% of their US electricity consumption to renewable energy sources.

Whether at the gym, the office, the hiking trail, or even at shelves at our local stores, chances are you’re familiar with S’Well brand water bottles. Offering a wide range of styles to keep you hydrated wherever and whatever you’re doing.  During COVID, S’Well has also launched a domestic program called Hydrate EDU, a gifting and advocacy program that donates water bottles to schools to help implement safe, sustainable solutions for hydration during the pandemic and beyond.

tentree is green from the get-go! They use sustainable materials and have ethical working conditions, but what really goes above and beyond is they plant 10 trees for every purchase.  As of writing this blog, tentree has planted over 73 million trees and wants to plant 1 billion by 2030!

Other Initiatives
Using a Certified B Corporation can take some of the guesswork and legwork out of choosing a partner to tie your brand to, but B Corps isn’t the only way to go when it comes to leveraging brand equity. Plenty of other companies are taking steps to improve their communities and the world. The easiest way to do your due diligence on companies or brands with initiatives is to check that they are partnered with legitimate philanthropic organizations. 

Clean Water Initiatives
Clean water is something that the majority of us unknowingly take for granted. According to water.org, more than 850 million people, or 1 in 9 people, do not have access to safe drinking water in their communities. There are many brands out there that are fighting to provide access to safe and clean water in some of the world’s most vulnerable areas. As you may have noticed, many of the drinkware brands listed in the B Corps section support these initiatives, as does Corkcicle and Welly. 

Aside from providing stylishly simple, high-quality drinkware, Corkcicle is actually a partner with charity: water, a nonprofit organization that brings clean and safe drinking water to people living in developing communities worldwide.  A purchase with Corkcicle is also restoring health and providing new opportunities for these areas.

Welly is a newer drinkware company that offers highly functional and fashionable drinkware, helps the environment, and brings clean water to people in need. For every bottle sold, Welly donates $1 to various clean water solutions and projects in developing countries. Additionally, 3% of Welly’s total sales are also going directly to charity: water.

Green and Eco Initiatives
With plastic consumption at an all-time high and the growing demand to combat climate change, many companies are focused on increasing sustainability and renewability, reducing waste, combating pollution, and protecting the world’s forests and wildlife. Yvon Chouinard, the founder and CEO of the popular clothing brand Patagonia, created an organization known as 1% For The Planet in which partnered companies donate 1% of all sales towards non-profits supporting these types of environmental initiatives. In addition to some of the B Corps above all three companies below are all partnered with this organization donating 1% of their sales to green or eco-initiatives. 

Hydro Flask
Immediately identifiable by their sleek, simple designs and bold colors, Hydro Flask also created a charitable program, Parks For All, that benefits public green spaces!  A portion of every sale is dedicated to the program, and so far, more than 2.5 million dollars have been donated to bring greener spots to everyone.

Responsibly made, reusable straws that reduce the need for plastics. Plastic straws aren’t recyclable and make up an estimated 4% of all plastic waste. With some cities moving to ban plastic straws entirely, this portable alternative is a great choice. 

Watching plants grow is always a magical experience and really embodies the ideas of hope, growth, and care.  Sprigbox’s easy-to-use urban grow boxes are made from reusable planters so your recipients can grow their own plants like mint, basil, and cilantro (to name a few) wherever they happen to be.  

One of the easiest ways we can reduce one-time plastics is by using reusable dining kits like a bento box.  Aside from making meal prep a breeze, EKOBO’s unique and stylish containers are made from highly renewable bamboo from ethically managed forests, making this a pick that’s green from the start. 


Maximizing Brand Equity and Goodwill

Just like you did, some of your attendees will recognize the larger and better-known brands from the introduction, but there is no guarantee that they recognize some of the newer brands hitting the market. How can we still maximize the equity and goodwill we are borrowing from these various companies and brands with initiatives? The short answer is - communication is key! 

Once you’ve researched and selected a gift or giveaway that aligns with your organization's values and event budget, leveraging that goodwill begins. This is a value add to the item/giveaway and differentiates your event from others they’ve attended. Additionally, your attendees will generate excitement for your next event as they share about the item, initiative, and the event every time they use it. Every touchpoint you have with your attendees is a chance to showcase and reinforce the significance of your particular promo choice’s initiative. This communication can begin the minute you finalize the event’s giveaways. We’ve included some ideas on where to communicate about the giveaways and their initiatives to get you started below: 

  • Pre-event marketing materials
  • Registration forms and/or website. 
  • Confirmation emails/communications.   
  • What to expect or countdown emails/communications. 
  • Banners or signs at registration. 
  • Hand out cards printed on recycled paper or other eco-friendly materials at pick-up.
  • On-site traditional sponsor signage. 
  • Signs, banners, or decals at food and beverage stations. 
  • QR codes around the venue
  • Post-event surveys

The value this adds to your event’s image is the same value that can be added to sponsors. Communication is also key in this area. Be sure to let your prospective sponsors know that co-branding the specific items you’ve selected will allow them to capitalize on the equity and goodwill the item's brand has with consumers. Be sure to make them aware of the various initiatives, give them options so they can select what aligns best with their organization’s values, and inform them of where the co-branding and promotion will be showcased (pre-event, on-site, and post-event).  

Taking the extra time to ensure your attendees and sponsors understand the impact being made through the initiative(s) adds value to not only the physical item but to attending your event and to your sponsors' image. Improving the world through your purchase and differentiating your event and sponsorship opportunities - that is a win-win if I’ve ever seen one! 

If you're interested in more wins, learning more about these companies' initiatives, or are interested in including them at your next event, contact us, we’d love to help!

Courtney Zgraggen
Written by Courtney Zgraggen

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