As we step into a new year, we resolve to do better in some way. Many brands also claim to offer you a chance to do or be better by buying from companies that support sustainability or are environmentally friendly. If you want to make more green ($) by touting the green qualities of your brand, there are two things you need to consider â a distinctive brand and appropriate marketing of your environmental claims.
A Distinctive Brand:
Your mark must be distinctive to be registrable. Some brands use green colored packaging, green font, or terms like "green" or "eco" in the trademark name itself. Those ideas are attractive from a marketing perspective, but they are not going to be distinctive enough to achieve registration without something else to bring it home. Using the word or color green is now so prevalent that the Trademark Office considers green to be common adjective for environmentally friendly products and not a source identifier.
Marketing Environmental Claims:
Advertisements that claim your products are recycled, recyclable, sustainable, or otherwise beneficial must be supportable and non-deceptive. Often times, marketers intend a different meaning than the meaning perceived by a consumer. All reasonable interpretations should be considered. General claims like "environmentally friendly" convey a wide range of meanings and are difficult to adequately substantiate. However, a more specific statement like "environmentally friendly, made with recycled materials" may be acceptable where the entire product is made from recycled materials and the overall environmental impact is beneficial - meaning it doesn't somehow require the use of more energy to manufacture the product with the recycled materials.
Navigating the environmental waters of advertising claims can be complex. The Federal Trade Commission has published a set of Green Guides to help marketers avoid false or misleading claims. Check them out so you don't end up on the list of top marketing disasters of all time:
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