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Tech and automotive companies among world's greenest brands

Toyota has held onto its number spot in the 2012 rankings of the best global green brands, but Johnson & Johnson isn't far behind and Danone (#9), Ford (#15), and Starbucks (#36) are rising fast. 

Interbrand top green brandsInterbrand's second Best Global Green Brands report shows tech and automotive brands are dominating.

New high-profile alternative fuel vehicles from electric models to hybrids have hit the market in recent times, and eight automotive brands made it to the list: Toyota (#1), Honda (#3), Volkswagen (#4), BMW (#10), Ford (#15), Mercedes-Benz (#16), Hyundai (#17), and Nissan (#21).

And in the top 10 alone were HP, Panasonic, Dell and Siemens, with Cisco and Apple hot on their heels.

Deloitte global sustainability leader David Pearson noted: “It is becoming increasingly clear that sustainability is a ‘must have’ rather than a ‘nice to have’ for a lot of companies. It matters from a growth perspective; it matters from a cost and margin perspective; it matters from a brand value perspective. Closing the gap between sustainability performance and market perception is an incredibly important part of taking and continuing the sustainability journey.”

And Interbrand NZ managing director James Bickford said, “If New Zealand wants to re-ignite its fading reputation for being ‘pure’ its brands need to start demonstrating their leadership in sustainability and transparency. The ‘planet’ agenda is no longer a governmental or cause related issue it is a partnership in which brands can lead and which the global community will judge our ‘pure’ credentials.”

Interbrand top green brandsThe US, Germany and Japan lead in terms of manufacturing and managing green brands, the US with 22 of them and Germany and Japan seven each.

To make the top 50 Best Global Green Brands, organisations must perform well in terms of both sustainability performance and perception.

What Interbrand refers to as “the gap” is the difference between a brand’s performance and perception scores. A positive gap indicates sustainability performance is actually higher than consumers perceive it to be, and vice versa. This is based on its 2011 Best Global Brands report, consumer research and performance data provided by Deloitte – data based upon publicly available information.

As more companies wake up to the sustainability movement, 'greenwashing' is also becoming more common.

“Sustainability has proven to be a strategic and profitable aspect of business and a brand-strengthening asset,” said Jez Frampton, Interbrand global CEO. “It is crucial that consumers’ impressions of a brand are in close alignment with that brand’s actual environmental performance. Otherwise, a brand’s efforts in this area could serve as an under-utilised asset, or, conversely, suffer due to accusations of ‘greenwashing.’”

Among the key trends identified by Interbrand:

·         The rise of the millennials – how young people are influencing the market, corporate and academic recruiting and how top companies and universities are responding

·         The rise of the Good Corporation – companies must understand where they sit and realise that they have influence, which can be just as good for the bottom line as it is for a company’s image.
 
·         There is no silver bullet – businesses, consumers and government will all have to contribute in order to build a more sustainable world – but brands can play a big role.

·         The unintended consequences of prosperity – the way we have conducted business in the past is not sustainable.
 
·         The triple bottom line – sustainability is good for people, good for the planet and good for brands.
 
·         Change the story, change the system – There is a need for a new way of thinking about sustainability, specifically the need to move beyond functional silo thinking and adopt a broader, more holistic view.
 
·         Small deeds, big changes - building a sustainable brand begins with small steps. The problems are big, but we can solve them through innovation, proper resource management and strategic thinking.

·         Transparency –making information public, letting people see inside your organisation, and being forthright about your policies and operations builds trust.