SOFEA: verbal branding strategy leading to tagline and rating system

Encourage sustainability in the office supplies industry

SOFEA encourages sustainability in the European industry of office supplies. The company inspires manufacturers to continuously improve their products and to motivate resellers to communicate about the importance of sustainability. This way, the industry together contributes to a cleaner environment. In order to realize this, SOFEA conducts thorough and objectified evaluation of the sustainability of office products.

Problem: an E-rating is good but it seems bad

When a product meets the basic requirements, it receives the logo and is allowed to show it with the product. The logo shows an A, B, C, D or E rating, while if the product does not meet the requirements it does not get a logo at all. But even though an E-rating means that the product is approved by SOFEA, the industry feared that it would confuse customers. What if an E-rating makes customers choose a non-rated product over a SOFEA E-rated product? For this reason, the office supplies industry was not willing to adopt the new sustainability standard, even though it wholeheartedly supports its goals.

Assignment: develop a verbal branding strategy that clarifies the logo and convinces the industry

Since the A to E rating denotations cannot be chanced (as they are part of official evaluation protocols), SOFEA has asked Globrands to develop a verbal branding strategy that places all the ratings in a context where they are perceived as the endorsement they actually are.

Core message: An easy way to make the sustainable choice

First, together we determined the core message. SOFEA’s brand promise is to enable you to make the sustainability choice. The rating makes it easy for the target group to decide between levels of sustainability. But no matter what the rating level is, purchasing a SOFEA rated product means that you choose for sustainability.

A tagline for SOFEA and an addition to the rating levels

To make this clear, the following changes are made to the SOFEA logo. First, in order to clarify SOFEA’s central promise more quickly, a descriptive tagline is shown under the brand name whenever the circumstances allow for it: sustainable choice. Secondly, the word “-approved” is consistently added to the rating itself. The E-level is now explained as Standard level, C- & D-level are Plus Level and A & B are explained as Excellent level.

Result: all stakeholders are convinced

This change to the SOFEA logo enables low interest customers to easily make the sustainable choice, while helping high interest customers to choose the most sustainable product by buying an A-approved product. All 23 SOFEA members (top European manufacturers and resellers active in the office supply industry) have adopted this communicative solution. This allows them to encourage their customers to contribute to a cleaner environment.

Anita Singh-Gunther, Managing Director SOFEA:

Globrands contributed to making SOFEA’s Annual General Assembly a great success! Their end-customer oriented consulting resulted in a rating system which enables customers to make the sustainable choice.