​Australian Government rebrands climate action initiative

Aims to become the ‘Heart Foundation tick’ of climate action

The Australian Government’s carbon neutral certification has recently been renamed, rebranded and relaunched as 'Climate Active', all with the aim of becoming the ‘Heart Foundation tick’ of climate action.

Climate Active needed to work as both a brand and a certification, and have the gravitas to live in its own right, building long-term equity. The certification also needed to offer instant credibility alongside the likes of Qantas, Intrepid, and the City of Sydney, Climate Active communications and engagement manager, Polly Hemming, said.

The team undertook discussions with partners to not only rebrand its certification, but to also ensure the certification was the most rigorous available in market. This will be backed by enabling marketing through its business partners, while also educating consumers about what carbon neutrality really means.

Independent brand strategy agency, The Contenders, has been behind the development, evolving the program to operate under a new brand name: Climate Active. The new approach aims to move the brand beyond a certification and to reflect the ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to take voluntary climate action. 

“The Climate Active brand speaks beautifully to both businesses and the Australian community,” Hemming told CMO. “It perfectly balances the rigour of our certification with the pride Australians feel about protecting our unique environment.”

As Hemming pointed out, Climate Active is based in government, but sits at the nexus between government and private businesses. So it has to operate like a small commercial business within government. 

“Basically, a business or organisation has to decide what it wants to make carbon neutral, whether it's a product or business operations, they have to measure their emissions, reduce those emissions, and then offset any remaining emissions. And basically, once they've done that, they submit their data to us and we measure it against the standard we've developed,” Hemming explained. 

“Previously, we concentrated on the veracity of the standards, enabled broad sectoral uptake and different types of certification. But we were this little green circle called the National Carbon Offset Standard Carbon Neutral Certified, and no one really knew what it was. 

“We realised we were providing a product to the private sector or non-government sector, so we have an obligation to make sure we're providing something of value and basically keeping across market trends. 

“There are other bodies that claim to offer carbon neutral certification in Australia. So we do have some competitors, as well."

The starting point was research with partners to work out how to better leverage the rigour of the certification and showcase carbon neutral businesses far better. 

“There's overwhelming interest in climate action, both by businesses and consumers, and a real willingness to take climate action. There's a belief by consumers that climate action is everyone's responsibility. So individual businesses and government should all working together," Hemming continued.

“However, consumers don't really understand what carbon neutrality is despite wanting to take climate action.”

Hemming said consumers also want rigour and transparency around any climate claims, because if they don’t understand the certification, they are less likely to tick that little carbon offsetting box offered by airlines and similar. It's particularly important to know where their money's going. 

“There's also a demand for carbon labelling. We realised after working with our members and coupled with research, we really had an opportunity to elevate our certification and meet some of those expectations by businesses and consumers in a way that  is going to provide a value proposition for them,” she said.

“We wanted to showcase the idea that government is enabling action through business, then take a backseat and really promote the fact its businesses activating this and running with it.

Hemming's analogy for the certification is that it's the "heart tick" of climate action. "The tick was an industry leader for 25 years and it was a really easy way for people to know that they were making the right choice if they chose that product. And while climate action has been around for ages it's still taking a very long time for it to become organised commercially," she said.

“So we want to lend veracity to claims with the rebrand while tapping into that emotional side of warmth and pride. We don't need any more scare tactics, we need positivity and this is a really simple way you can do something to help the climate.”

Climate Action has given businesses a toolkit to promote how they are involved and equip members to really push the message. Off the back of this, Hemming said it had seen an 80 per cent increase in certifications over the last two years. The group has also had to update IT systems to automate a lot of processes.

The Contenders CEO, Joe Rogers, felt honoured to be part of an influential cooperative between government, business and the community, which empowers Australians to take positive climate action.

“Every aspect of the brand is anchored around carbon neutrality: Reducing and offsetting emissions. The concept of offsetting is explored both literally and figuratively, creating a movement, a step in the right direction and future action," he said. "As such, all design elements did exactly that, visualising an offset through the identity, iconography and typography.”

The rebrand will be communicated via digital channels primarily, and is mainly aimed at B2B, while educating consumers about carbon neutrality.

“We've got to strike a bit of a balance. At the moment, we want to get a critical mass of businesses on-board, as we know the demand is there. We can’t go too hard to consumers too fast as we're still small. So it's primarily B2B first with just keeping the B2C kind of simmering and aware,” Hemming added.

“I guess, it’s about public education -- this is what carbon neutrality is, this is how it links to climate action, this is what you can do, rather than really going down hard to consumers in the first instance."

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia. 

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