Study by Peter Schmidt Group shows how sustainable design makes brands more successful

Sustainable design involves ecological, economical and social aspects. But they are often overlooked in the day-to-day business of brand management. The brand and design agency Peter Schmidt Group has published a report called “Brand Boost: Sustainable Design” that shows companies how they can realize untapped potential and augment their long-term success.

Sustainability is one of the most relevant topics of our time – and not in spite of Corona, but precisely because of it. The pandemic shines a light on the social and economic aspects of sustainability. Companies that have taken their responsibility seriously over the past few years are weathering the current crisis better. Businesses that treat their employees and suppliers with respect in difficult times earn a good reputation in the eyes of the general public. In a nutshell, pursuing a sound and holistic sustainability strategy pays off.

The role design can play in this process is often underestimated, although there are a number of relevant approaches. What are the brand codes that underscore your brand’s commitment to sustainability? How can you use sustainable brand design to achieve beneficial economic effects? And is it possible to design your brand’s websites in a more resource-efficient way? Companies that want find creative ways to exploit this hidden potential will enjoy more success in the long term. The brand and design agency Peter Schmidt Group has published a report entitled “Brand Boost: Sustainable Design” to help companies do just that. It identifies the five most important areas in which companies can take action, shows best practice examples, and suggests concrete actions for companies to consider. However, an individual analysis is recommended to determine which of these options is the right fit for a particular brand. In conducting such an assessment, Peter Schmidt Group relies on a catalog of actions that covers 30 indicators of sustainable design, ranging from questions about which materials to use and the carbon footprint of digital media, to ergonomic aspects and the use of non-discriminatory images.

The Next Normal provides the best opportunity for making changes

“Many companies are currently reviewing the way they have been doing business," said Lukas Cottrell, managing partner of Peter Schmidt Group. “Brand managers should take advantage of this momentum and make sustainability an integral part their work going forward. These are exactly the kind of impulses people expect brands to act on.” And investments in sustainable design are worthwhile for companies, because they can help conserve valuable resources over the long term.

This context is often easier for companies in the consumer goods industry to grasp. They are aware of the amount of material that can be saved in large-scale production by optimizing product packaging, dispensing with wrappers and coatings, or reducing the amount of ink needed. But other brands can also achieve considerable savings – including in the area of digital media. “Very few companies are aware of the impact that an elaborately animated website has on the company's carbon footprint,” explained Stephanie Lam-Eschenburg, senior brand strategist at Peter Schmidt Group. After all, the more data being transferred, the more energy is consumed by the server infrastructure. The report provides an example of the contribution that sustainable design can make. Just by switching to a font with a smaller file size, Google saves 1,000 terabytes of data each week – roughly equivalent to the amount of energy consumed by the BASF plant in Ludwigshafen in an entire year.

And don't forget: sustainability involves much more than ecological aspects. “Barrier-free design, for example, is often overlooked when it comes to online content. To ensure accessibility for all users, it's essential for designers to take the use of color, contrast and typography into consideration,” Lam-Eschenburg continued.

“Brand Boost: Sustainable Design” for download 

The “Brand Boost: Sustainable Design” report is available as a PDF-download here. It was prepared on the basis of a thorough analysis of current guidelines and publications, as well as the agency's day-to-day experience on behalf of clients from a wide range of industries, among them Deutsche Bahn, Mercedes-Benz and Henkel. The creative talents at Peter Schmidt Group rely on an in-house sustainability team with a broad spectrum of expertise that serves as a consultant and sounding board for companies of all kinds.

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