Sanjeev Kotnala: Towards Green Brand Building!

20 Dec,2018

By Sanjeev Kotnala


‘Green Brand Building’ is a thought in inception stage. It is inspired by ‘My Green School’ an idea supporting education for ‘Gross National Happiness’ (GNH).  It is an initiative by Thakur S Powdyel, former Education Minister of Bhutan.


Bhutan believes in GNH as a measurement of Growth and prosperity.  It believes- ‘The ultimate desire of every human being, regardless of time and space, from coast to coast, hemisphere to hemisphere, is to be happy, it is, therefore, the responsibility of the elected government to create the necessary conditions to support the experience of Happiness’.


Green is not just CSR.

Green is a metaphor for anything and everything that supports and sustains life in all its varied form- humans, animals, plants and other living beings.  It is a necessary re-orientation of our mind.


Can this argument be extended to brand building?

Brands ultimate aim is to enhance the happiness quotient of their target audiences. They may use emotional triggers like jealousy, sarcasm, and pride and create polarised communities. Yet, hopefully, the aim is engagement, involvement and overall betterment of the consumer.

Like a pupil in a school, organisations and brands from their need-desire-want and a problem-solution state are pushed into a performance category. They are measured  by their contribution to the balance sheet and stakeholder’s wealth. There is nothing wrong in that business objectify and wealth/profit creation.


Green School and Green Brand Building

In the Gross National Happiness, there is a critical link, the Green School engaging and empowering all the elements of the learner. It includes the natural, intellectual, academic, social, cultural, spiritual, aesthetic and moral elements. It works to produce a GNH graduate who displays the qualities of usefulness and gracefulness.


Similarly, ‘Green Brand Building’ requires a new belief, a new North Star guiding it. The change understandably like the Green School needs a tectonic shift at the grass-root level. It will take time. Maybe the industry leaders can contribute by nudging it.


Green Brand Building is a simple thought.

The GREEN SCHOOL is explained in the Sherig Mandala. It speaks of the Natural Greenery, Social greenery, Cultural Greenery, Intellectual Greenery, Academic Greenery, Aesthetic Greenery, Spiritual Greenery and Moral Greenery. Seems a lot more complication for a simple thought of Love of Life.

If I try creating the initial draft ‘Kotnala Mandala’ – ‘Green Brand Building’, I see a huge degree of overlap and hence openly borrow from the concept.


Just like we need the earth and the sea and the sky and the animals and plants more than they need us. Brands need the audience more than they need the brands. Kotnala Mandala is pushing for brands being a lot more respectful, responsible in their engagement with the complex ecosystem that its audiences live and need.


‘Kotnala Mandala’ – Green Brand Building

It in its preliminary stage the ‘Green Brand Building’ mandala or Kotnala Mandala has following rings of truth or guiding principle.


1. Natural Greenery.Environment consciousness. It leverages and not exploits to deplete nature and its resources. It does not create by-products that lead to increasing pollution. Being Carbon/ Energy/ Water Positive is part of it as is discouraging use of plastic.

2. Aesthetic Greenery.Ensuring that the whole design, function approach is not jarring and seamlessly integrates itself in the consumer life. It is purposefully tasteful, adds colour to life, relives monotony and brings in novelty and excitement. This also includes the way the offices are constructed and maintained, the marketplace display and interaction.

3. Socio-Cultural Greenery. It promotes the feeling of togetherness. It works within the cultural framework. It seriously evaluates its impression and impact before taking the side in a dynamically changing social fabric. It is not promoting generalisation and creation of stereotypes. It is building a community not just based on brand usage but shared ideas and philosophy. Its communication promotes habits, behaviour and practices that are beneficial to the community. It supports the beliefs, values and notion of success, the idea of progress, view of humanity and society.

4. Ethical Greenery. The brand and communication promote equality. It does not discriminate. It does not directly or subliminally give signals that are against gender/caste/religion/region/language equality.

5. Business Greenery.The organisation has the best practices that lead to transparent interaction. The idea is of growth and prosperity without indulging in unethical practices or discrimination. They are not only equal opportunity organisation. But, they also empower them.

6. Moral Greenery. Using our ability to think and judge. Raising questions ate every stage if what is being done is right and wrong.  There has to be greenery and nobility of thought, speech and action. And this should be reflected through the organisation, brand and its interaction with the consumers and extended ecosystem. There is honesty, transparency and a fair play.

7. Intellectual Greenery. The brand building promotes a culture constant learning in the R&D labs, offices, meetings and markets. There is openness to ideas and patience for explaining to uninitiated. There is positivity in thoughts and healthy competition.  There is a constant evolution in the process.
There is no infringement of copyrights and patents. They never poach ideas. They always pay for the idea. The promises it makes are genuine and true. They are not exaggerated or coined just for the impact. There is truthfulness in the brand construct and it’s advertising.

8. Trinity Greenery. The client, the agencies (be it creative, media, strategic) and the media operate in an environment of earned trust and confidence. They respect each other. They have the passion for learning and a willingness to collectively shoulder the burden of occasional failures. They have conviction in the power of communication and brand building processes they adapt. They love their audience and are aimed at creating happiness within them.

9. Spiritual Greenery.  The frequent brand introspection across all other Greenery we have discussed. Finding the brands vision and direction. Finding the guiding north star- a purpose.  A Brand Building that infuses life in the brand and its consumer that is more than pure transactional or profit oriented.


‘Green Brand Building’ may sound too idealistic a thought. However, in its purity is a North Star for brand creators. It is a need of the hour. I look forward to like-minded people contributing in evolving the design.


SUB NOTE: Mr Powdyel and I were part of a small select group discussing ‘The State of Education at Public Good In South Asia’. This forum for reflection and action was supported by ‘Centre for Policies and practices’ and ‘Aid-et-Action’. Here I got exposed to the GREEN SCHOOL project and concept early this month at Kathmandu.


Sanjeev Kotnala is a brand and marketing advisor, ideation and creativity facilitator and a coach.  



Post a Comment 

Comments are closed.