Everyone wants to be seen as friendly—to their neighbors, friends, strangers and the planet. But, when a company claims to be environmentally friendly, offer eco-friendly products or support Earth-friendly practices, the use of friendly sometimes leads to more eye rolls than authentic connections.
Like beauty, friendly is in the eye of the beholder. The term is impossible to quantify, which is why it’s often found in suspect situations.
Folks who care about the impact they have on the planet are compelled to get specific. Simply claiming something is eco-friendly, for example, not only raises eyebrows, it invites scrutiny because the term begs for backup.
Go ahead and Google. Everyone from clothing manufacturers to roofing suppliers claim their products are friendly to the Earth, environment, animals, etc. Such overuse waters down the true meaning behind the term, which makes it far less compelling.
It’s easy to be Earth-friendly—maybe too easy. The bar for achieving such distinction—and all the warm fuzzies that go with it—is low. It might make us feel good to feel friendly, but it’s nowhere near a serious action.
Friendly is a term that most often describes people. But friendliness toward the planet is a quality marketers are happy to draw upon—particularly for companies who seek to personify their brand and make it more attractive to consumers.
Who wouldn’t want to choose a product that proclaims its friendliness to the planet? Because it’s such an agreeable word, people are more likely to accept friendly than other polarizing words, like green.
We all know what it feels like to experience friendliness. So we hardly have to be told that buying a product or service that’s friendly to the environment is a win-win: You get something you need, and the planet isn’t harmed.
Speaking in generalities will only inspire a vague sense of brand loyalty. When you provide hard evidence, you’re more likely to gain (and keep!) the trust of your audience.
Engaging audiences with a story allows them to see themselves for what they truly are: Part of the problem and—most important—part of the solution. When we tell a story, we have a better chance of inspiring real action.
Any CR drinking game that required a shot every time the word friendly came up would lead to a whole lot of drunk. Let’s move past friendly and find fresh ways to convey what we’re really doing to be better environmental stewards.
When you’ve done something substantial, say something substantial! Terms like eco- or Earth-friendly can minimize the impact of your message. Using more accurate, stronger words can more successfully convey the significance of your achievements.
Got a word that doesn’t work, but can’t think of another way to say what you mean? Leave us a comment and we just might add it to a future release. Problem solved!