A Relatively Young Arizona Water Utility Has Become An International Voice For Recycling Water. Here’s How They Did It, And How You Can Too For Your Environmental Cause.


Global Water’s Droplet Recycling Icon is the Foundation of the Educational Campaign

How do you get people to sit up and pay attention to your eco-conscious pursuits? Are you finding it difficult to cut through the din of green marketing hype? Are you eager to propel your industry forward with your environmental cause? Are your own efforts sustainable?

Global Water Resources of Arizona has become an international expert promoting the use and reuse of recycled water. They did it with big thinking, a smart campaign, and tireless efforts with regulators, lawmakers and their customers. Here’s how:

  • Stand For Something That’s Bigger Than You Are: Global Water could’ve been just another water and sewer company. Instead, they are “Experts at Scarcity Management.” Being a utility is simply just their vehicle to propel the water industry forward for smarter use of an extremely limited and vulnerable resource. As Trevor Hill, president and CEO of Global Water, says, “We look for people who want to work for a purpose that’s bigger than themselves.”
  • Create A Powerful Visual Brand: Superman doesn’t wear a lower-case “S” on his chest. Nor should your company or cause. In Global’s case, we created a logo that celebrated the “G” in Global glblwtr_logo_v_tagWater with their own version of a recycling logo. It also suggested water-swirling-down-a-drain (The first step in the water recycling cycle.). Your logo becomes the visual icon of your brand, what you stand for, and will anchor ALL of your future messaging. Make it active, important and powerful.
  • Make Your Message Both Familiar And Unique: Our hero visual with the campaign launch was the recycling logo made of water drops. It’s important to use recognizable visual prompts and present them to your audience with a new and interesting perspective. This technique takes your brand from being conceptual to concrete. It also makes your message more familiar so that doing the “green thing” isn’t so alien to those new to environmental causes.
  • Your Green Brand Must Be Approachable, Believable & Doable: To be effective with green marketing and promoting sustainability, you need to embrace your cynics, coax in the uncommitted, and give voice to the believers. Replace defensiveness with facts that support your cause. Facts also arm your proponents with the fodder to become powerful word-of-mouth evangelists on your behalf. Demonstrate to the uncommitted how easy it is to get involved by providing specific actions they can take to make a difference.
  • Consistency, Consistency, Consistency: To extend the theme of the water-drop recycling visual, ALL of Global’s print ads, educational materials, website and collateral used droplet icons to punctuate the main message of the particular piece. The success of their outreach was due in great part to the impeccable consistency throughout ALL of their campaign. You can view the work here.
  • Avoid The Temptation To Pound Your Chest: Customers don’t want to hear how great you are or how wonderful your product is. Rather, they’re more interested in how you can make a real difference in their lives. Education is THE most powerful form of selling. Stop proclaiming and start conversing with your customer. Let them connect the intellectual dots.
  • Appeal To The Heart, And The Head Will Follow: Don’t confuse educating with being boring. People buy with emotion, and then justify their purchase with their intellect (It’s a right brain/left brain thing). Global’s management team worked closely with us to insure the campaign was beautiful, warm, engaging, thoughtful, and always on strategy.
  • writing-on-wall2With Market Leadership Comes Responsibility: Sometimes you have to sharpen your sword, or in this case your pen, and take a stand. Given the expanding population throughout the desert southwest, as well as the drought that may or may not be caused by global warming, Global had to communicate the urgency of their mission with greater emphasis. The water-drop theme was executed in a new and more forceful way to raise awareness of the critical need for regulatory action in freeing up the use of recycled water.
  • Be First At Something: Heck, be first at lots of things. Global Water has just received the 2009 EPA “Environmental Achievement Award” for its work and commitment to protecting the environment.  They are one of the first private water utilities in America to build a LEEDs facility.  Global’s Water Resource Center in Maricopa, AZ, functions both as a regional operations facility, as well as a community and educational center.

You can download the case study of Global Water’s branding of recycled water here. global-case-study

This post is a follow-up to my story on Monday about not selling sustainability to a reptile. Imagine if Global based their effort on a  fear tactic of running out of water. The reptile in all of us would simply choose to flee the message or fight it. Rather, Global took the higher road to educate the thinking human in all of us to promote recycled water. I doubt they’d be where they are today; consulting around the world on how to double plumb communities and recycle water.

Business Story Strategist, Keynote Speaker and Brand Raconteur

Park Howell is a trusted brand story strategist and sought-after keynote speaker on story marketing. He has helped international brands, including Coca-Cola, Beyer Pharmaceutical, Cummins Diesel, American Express, and United States Air Force.

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