The evolution of sustainability: where we predict brands will go in 2020

Sustainability has been a big deal for a long time, but there’s more pressure than ever for brands to take it seriously.

The U.N. has issued dire warnings two years in a row about the devastating effects of climate change that we’ll face if we don’t make drastic changes, fast.

Plus, both Millenials and Gen Z — who together account for nearly $350 billion in spending power in the U.S. — now demand sustainable business practices in exchange for their loyalty.

It’s no longer enough to “green” a product by using recycled or responsibly-sourced materials; sustainability has become table stakes, and those who sidestep their environmental responsibilities will quickly become as irrelevant as BlackBerry. Forward-thinking brands who want to stand out have to push the bounds of what’s possible.

Here are three emerging trends we predict we’ll see more of in 2020.

Focus on Local

First, it was eat local, then it was buy local. Now companies are cultivating supplier relationships that support local communities. Madewell’s Hometown Heroes Collective gives local artisans and makers from all over the U.S. a chance to grow their businesses by selling their products on madewell.com, and IKEA partnered with London designer Tom Dixon to design an experimental model for urban farming in the hopes of spurring more people to take it up.

Transparency

There is no sustainability without transparency since true sustainability requires understanding the full impact of a company’s value chain, from manufacturing to marketing. Danone/Dannon releases a report that shows their successes as well as shortfalls in striving for a net-zero carbon footprint. Chipotle launched the Young Farmers program to ensure an ample supply of meat and dairy that meets their “food with integrity” guidelines, including the responsible use of antibiotics and giving animals room to roam. Farmers under 40 who meet these standards get seed money and three-year contracts.

Zero Waste

This is one for brands that are looking for a stretch goal. While few companies will hit net-zero, more and more are trying to cut waste as much as possible. Adidas has pledged to use only recycled plastics in shoes and clothing by 2024. MAC takes the empties customers bring back and turns them into pencil sharpeners and other beauty tools, and Nestlé has created the first recyclable candy bar wrapper.

At Hunt, Gather we’re trying to up our sustainability game by focusing on reducing and recycling. It’s easy enough to say no to ketchup packets or plastic utensils and stash reusable bags and coffee cups in the car (and publicly shame tribe members who don’t). And we welcome partnering with clients like Chipotle who continue to push sustainability forward and do their part to create a better world.

Hacking a full branding and ad campaign from concept to production in 72 hours (and what I learned about the creative process)

Kurt Pennypecker is Director of Experience Design at Hunt, Gather.

Last weekend I joined the team at Good Measure, a pop-up agency that launches branding and advertising campaigns for local non-profits — all in one 72-hour weekend, all for free. I was one of more than 85 volunteers from the Austin advertising world that included brand and product designers, copywriters, strategists, videographers, editors, and developers. The assignment was to raise awareness among Texas teachers and drive schools to register for Classroom Champions, an organization that pairs athletes with kids K-8 to act as mentors.

Our goal was simple: to make great work that stirs the heart and creates an immediate, and lasting, impact.

The jam-packed weekend was energizing and fun, and I walked away with a few thoughts about what made it such a gratifying experience.

Watch others work

I worked side by side with super talented creatives from all over ATX. Watching them build their work and seeing what tools they used got me thinking differently about my own process and there are some new tricks I can’t wait to try.

Get out of your comfort zone

Doing an entire campaign in 72 hours means working fast, which shook up how I normally concept and work. Some of my assignments were a little outside my wheelhouse, but I embraced the chaos and found my stride.

Feel your value

At a Good Measure event, the client is on-site and everyone gets to be part of the pitch, which means people who may not always get to be in the big meeting are able to hear the feedback and witness the appreciation firsthand. As we neared each project milestone, everyone was high-fiving each other. It was the best kind of high.

Thrive on energy (not energy drinks)

Alex and the Good Measure crew have such great energy and it’s infectious. (You have to if you’re going to wrangle a huge team and motivate them all weekend long, especially when it gets late.) Their enthusiasm was addictive and it stayed with me after the weekend ended.

Do good for goodness’ sake

Above all, I left knowing that I contributed to a cause with a valuable mission, not for glory or a paycheck, but for the greater good. I helped others. I paid it forward. I did good, I felt good — and that’s great.

By the end of the weekend, we produced an entire campaign for Classroom Champions, including brand and media strategies, a promo video, a website, full logo branding, letterhead, banner ads, posters, a mural, icons, social media assets, and swag. It’s all set to launch in early 2020 just in time for SXSW.

Do yourself a solid and follow Good Measure on LinkedIn and sign up for their mailing list to find out where they’ll pop up in the coming year.