What is a circular economy, and why does it matter?
The simple answer is of course that a circular economy is about using and sharing the greatest amount of good with the least amount of waste.
And it should matter to all of us if we do not want to live in a wasteland of garbage.
This simple and more erudite definition of what a circular economy involves is probably more useful:
“It entails gradually decoupling economic activity from the consumption of finite resources, and designing waste out of the system. Underpinned by a transition to renewable energy sources, the circular model builds economic, natural, and social capital. … Design out waste and pollution. Keep products and materials in use.”
But if we see the need and understand the principles behind it, then what’s holding us back from making this “business as usual” for enterprises, and why isn’t there greater adoption by consumers?
And what is the role of branding in this new dynamic?
Firstly, I believe that the science, technology and distribution infrastructure, are already there to make this scalable, and what’s holding us all back, is the willingness to participate.
And this is where the role of branding comes into play:
Brands can provide the emotional resonance and imperative for us to change mindsets and behaviour. But only if we stop branding the “functional” aspects of the value proposition – which would only appeal to the “converted greenies”; – think Loop and Refillery as brands of the circular economy, and consider what the brand names trigger.
Instead, what if we developed circular economy brands which focus on the “experience promised”? This experience should have everything to do with the factors that drive our consumption but provide an additional layer of convenience (utility & preference), collaboration (value & loyalty) and community (sense of purpose & belonging) in the branded customer experience.
This realisation came to the fore when we worked collaboratively with a passionate group of strategists, researchers, designers, and marketeers seeking to solve a “zero waste” problem for a global, personal care company.
The resulting design innovation solution and brand strategy leveraged existing resource and technology, current product ranges, but focused on a system which would attract and retain consumer participation in the endeavour.
I’d love to share more on it, and hope that we’ll get it through to pilot! WATCH THIS SPACE!!