Companies are quick to use the terms CSR and sustainability with just about every announcement, often for purely public relations gain without much reality behind their claims – so how is the average person supposed to judge the best green business?
Interbrand’s second-annual Best Global Green Brands report aims to do just that, by evaluating and ranking companies on public perception as well as their actual accomplishments.
Toyota was ranked the top global green brand for the second year in a row in this report, and was singled out by Interbrand for expanding the pioneering Prius brand of hybrid vehicles into a full line of autos, including the company’s first plug-in model. Beyond design, Toyota was also credited for achieving near-zero landfill status at all North American factories and for building LEED-certified buildings and dealerships.
Automakers pull ahead
Auto manufacturers overall did quite well, likely a result of efforts to develop fuel-efficient vehicles and plug-in hybrids. Three other major automakers (Honda, Volkswagen, and BMW) cracked the top ten, and four others (Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Hyundai, and Nissan) squeaked into the top 50.
However, the two top-ranked auto brands, Toyota and Honda, received a lower score on actual performance than consumer perception. This discrepancy could represent a problem for the companies down the road. “It is crucial that consumers’ impressions of a brand are in close alignment with the brand’s actual environmental performance,” said Jez Frampton, Interbrand’s chief executive. “Otherwise, a brand’s efforts could…suffer due to accusations of greenwashing.”
Technology firms plug in
Technology brands comprised the second-largest category of green brands, led by Hewlett-Packard, Panasonic, Dell, and Siemens ranked fifth through eighth, respectively. Panasonic jumped four spots in 2012 based on the strength of energy-efficient devices and transportation efficiencies, but Siemens dropped five spots based on higher energy/water intensity, increased landfill waste, and higher emissions.
But the biggest jump was by…
French food brand Danone saw the largest single jump from 2011 to 2012, rising 14 spots to number nine overall. Interbrand credited the company for reducing its carbon footprint 27.5 percent, the creation of a fund to address food security and climate change issues, and a significant reduction in packaging weight and recycling.
The analysis was conducted with publicly available data, consumer research, and the benchmarked 2011 Green Brands report. Deloitte evaluated the collected data against 82 metrics, and Interbrand then surveyed more than 100,000 people in the 10 largest global economies.
Further analysis and commentary from Interbrand on how sustainability is impacting businesses and brands is available in the below video – it’s definitely a compelling way to spend five minutes!
Green business image via Shutterstock
Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy public relations company based in Washington, D.C.