The big news and brand strategies that caught my attention this month are both brilliant examples of initiatives that highlight and reinforce company values. While I don’t have any insider knowledge of these strategies, I have been around the business block and seen enough to make educated guesses on how these strategies are addressing real human needs.
The Strategy: Providing Free Housing to 20,000 Afghan Refugees
The Player: Airbnb.org
Why I’m Watching: This week, Airbnb.org offered free temporary housing to 20,000 Afghan refugees. When I look for companies living out their values, this responsive, human aid focused program is exactly what catches my eye. Airbnb.org is a brilliant 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with a mission “to unlock the power of sharing space, resources, and support in times of need.” It is funded by donations from Airbnb, Airbnb’s CEO, and other donors.
While a move like this is not new for Airbnb, the scale of this one is what really caught my eye. Over the past four years, they’ve connected nearly 25,000 refugees to temporary housing; committing to provide housing for 20,000 this month is a massive undertaking worth keeping an eye on. To make good on this promise, Airbnb will need to rely on and activate its host network quickly. This requires a confidence in the host community’s buy-in to the Airbnb corporate mission to “create a world where anyone can belong anywhere” and an incredible team working on the logistics.
I think this complementary non-profit continues to be a brilliant move for Airbnb as they provide housing for humans in need AND facilitate opportunities for willing hosts to lend a helping hand.
Why I’m Watching: Anyone who follows me on LinkedIn has probably seen me praise TerraCycle’s audacious mission in the past; separately, they can see that I (long ago) used to work in hair care at the same company that manufactures Herbal Essences. I’ve been watching the brand evolution of Herbal Essences since I joined SEEK in 2010, watching from afar as they became a sustainable brand leader for the category. I’ve been impressed.
I am thrilled to see Terracycle and Herbal partnering on such a cool promotion that also benefits the environment. Their “Renew the Forest” program will plant 61,329 trees in the US this fall, making good on a promise to plant 1 tree for every 2 bottles of product purchased at WalMart this past April. They will also donate 20 benches made from recycled hair care packaging to a handful of nature preserves around the United States.
The reasons I am highlighting this specific “Renew the Forest” initiative is because I love the strategies to: 1) offset negative environmental impacts of production; planting trees feels right for a brand equity rooted in nature, 2) shine a spotlight on new products made from recycled materials (park benches made from recycled shampoo bottles, in this case!), and 3) creating a buzz that encourages people to get engaged with nature, seeing all the beauty worth preserving.
I love this as a fresh take on “gift with purchase.” Except in this instance, the gift is both for mother nature AND those who want to protect and enjoy her. The initial results of the program exceeded expectations, per Business Wire. I’m keeping an eye out to see how this strategy plays out for both Herbal Essences and Terracycle as the park benches get installed and the trees officially planted!