3 ESG Marketing Examples in Action: Inspiration to Embrace Your Values

February 29, 2024

Have you ever felt more inclined to buy from a brand after you saw an Instagram post about how they’re making a difference? Or maybe you’ve scoped out a company’s About page to see what practices they use before completing your purchase. 

Perhaps when you think about some of your favorite brands, you immediately connect the values they stand for.  

These are examples of ESG marketing working its magic on you!

What is ESG marketing?

First of all, ESG in general is a framework for defining an organization’s values in environmental, social, and governance capacities. Chances are, your business is already making an impact in at least one of these areas. 

An ESG content marketing strategy aligns those efforts with your print and digital marketing to ensure your customers know about your impact.

3 ESG Marketing Examples

If you’re stuck on creating an ESG marketing strategy, this blog post will get your juices flowing. We’ll explore three real-life examples of ESG marketing in the wild and how those companies are using it to connect with their customers while making a positive impact.

TOMS’ Impact Page: Pivoting an ESG Marketing Strategy

TOMS shoes are an interesting case. Back in 2006, they led with the infamous Buy-One-Give-One model. They donated a pair of shoes to people in need for every pair of shoes purchased. It was incredibly successful, but the company went bankrupt in 2019.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a tragic ending.

The bankruptcy was largely because consumers loved the generosity of the message, but TOMS couldn’t keep up with the demand. They couldn’t give away as many shoes as they were selling.

Since then, TOMS has been on a journey to find the right balance between sustainable profits and meaningful purpose. They’ve also had to address accusations that they weren’t living up to their promise.

These days, TOMS invests ⅓ of its profits in grassroots goods, which they define as “the result of a community mobilizing to address an issue they’re all impacted by.” They focus on three main areas: mental health, access to opportunity, and gun violence.

All this said, we’re big fans of their website’s current impact page which shouts their ESG values from the rooftops. Given TOMS’ complicated history, the page does a fantastic job of providing transparency and detail on their efforts. It’s visually stunning, engaging, clear, and on-brand. It also provides several links to resources and additional info, which is important for gaining consumer trust.

TOMS is a great case study on an effective ESG marketing strategy and how leading with a purpose can spark a huge movement. But they’re also a cautionary tale about what can happen if a mission is no longer feasible—and inspiration on how to pivot without sacrificing your brand’s DNA.

Nordstrom Pledges 15% to Black-Owned Businesses: ESG Content Across Platforms

This next example illustrates how a continuous, subtle ESG marketing plan can play into a brand’s strategy.  

In 2021, retail giant Nordstrom signed the Fifteen Percent Pledge. This pledge announced their commitment to increase their purchases from Black-owned businesses by 10 times by the end of 2030.  

The media picked up their press release and they also made the announcement on social media. From there, they’ve highlighted the Black-owned brands they purchase from, such as UOMA Beauty, O’Dolly Dearest, King + Lola, and Jessica Rich.

On top of this, Nordstorm also has detailed website pages on Corporate Social Responsibility and Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging. Each page is clear and thorough with solid stats on their impact and improvements over the years, which supports ESG transparency. 

This is especially important because many large clothing retailers are known for having poor social and environmental practices. By highlighting their efforts (perfect or not), they stand out from other mega brands that make vague claims or don’t mention their values at all. 

Drio’s Support of Women-Owned Businesses: Social Values Across the Board

As a certified Minority Business Enterprise and a passionate supporter of women-owned businesses, social values are an integral part of our work at Drio. 

If you’ve followed us for a while, you’ll know we’re on a mission to help more women CEOs crash the million- and billion-dollar boys’ club. We want to help women business owners take charge of their marketing and show up as themselves in it. We do so by hiring women contractors, building our community (the Monument Women’s Creative Alliance), and, of course, through the work we do for our clients!

We also run an annual event for International Women’s Day. The event includes a panel discussion with women who are shaping the future and plenty of inspiring conversations. A portion of ticket proceeds goes towards Marian House, a healing community for women and their children in Baltimore who need housing and support services.

Our support of women and minority business owners is a core element of our brand messaging. It shows up regularly in our email newsletter, blog, and social media because we want to make sure our audience knows what we stand for—and how we can help them.

Final Thoughts on ESG Marketing Examples

There are countless forms of ESG marketing out there. Whether your brand is all about environmental initiatives, social initiatives, governance, or all three, you can and should talk about it. First, you have to do some deep work to identify your values and craft an intentional, ESG-driven strategy. 

Find the message that works best for YOUR brand and nail down the tactics that work best for YOUR goals.

Then keep it clear and consistent.  

Need Help Weaving ESG Values into Your Marketing?

Download our free guide to uncovering your brand values. This resource will help you get all the goodness your business does out of your brain—and into the world.

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    Editor’s note: This post was originally published on March 16, 2023, and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

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    About the Author: Rachel McFadden

    She’s helped build roads in Baltimore, Maryland. Now this civil engineer turned WordPress wizard and graphic designer creates websites and marketing collateral that build bridges between you and your ideal customers. In a nutshell, she makes sure that when a potential client finds you online, there’s a clear, connected, on-brand digital path that leads them straight to your inbox, smartphone, or checkout page.

    Ready to strike your perfect balance between head turning and revenue generating?

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