The Millennial Version of “Mad Men”: Office Kuki Offers Sustainability Brand Consulting
Back in the days of “Mad Men,” companies would spend big bucks on advertising in magazines and billboards. That still happens, but small start-ups can’t afford to shell out for major ad campaigns, nor are they usually looking to scale up so quickly. Instead, they focus on branding and social media campaigns. And if it’s a company focused on a triple bottom line—people, planets, and profit—they might put out a report on their corporate social responsibility practices. But their customers probably won’t see it. And these days, with every company offering a “green” product, it’s hard to know which companies are truly practicing sustainability.
That’s where Office Kuki comes in. At the recent New York City Green Festival, the two founders of Office Kuki, Tomas Reyes and Torsten Flaegel, were tabling on behalf of their enterprise. They were surrounded by businesses who are taking advantage of the burgeoning market for green products and services. Reyes and Flaegel are supporting that economic ecosystem by helping these companies streamline their image, improve their internal business practices, and more effectively reach their customers.
This process starts with a brand evaluation which evaluates the company logo, slogan, identity, and advertising campaigns. Office Kuki describes the evaluation as a “first exchange of values,” where they consider what direction the company could go in, and how the Kuki team can help uncover its potential.
Office Kuki is interested primarily in what they call “social sustainability,” which goes beyond the idea of “green” practices as environmentally-focused. “It’s also about, internally for a company, connecting emotionally with your employees, for example, and engaging your employees,” said the Kuki team.
The evaluation covers “brand essentials” like mission, vision, and key message; marketing, and the potential sustainability efforts. “We think, what are they offering their customers that is unique? How will they position themselves so people look for their brand? Does their mission statement set them apart from the competition? Who is the target audience and how can we reach them? When you identify the unique value proposition, and the customers’ expectations, then you can go deeper into the look and feel of the brand, its tone, and how to message it to a specific audience,” said Flaegel and Reyes.
But Office Kuki emphasizes that, for a company to truly encompass a triple bottom line, they need to look at how their internal practices promote social sustainability. “Sustainability isn’t just about reducing carbon footprint—it’s also about how a workspace operates, and making people happier and more efficient,” they told Dowser.
One of the challenges in Office Kuki’s work is working with companies to improve their sustainability practices. Some “aren’t at the stage for internal transformations” when they approach the Kukis—they think of branding as something that companies project outward, rather than a reshaping from within. But the Kukis insist that what goes on inside an organization is just as important as what it produces.
Ultimately, for a brand to be sustained in the marketplace, the company as a whole has to be considered in terms of its sustainability, according to the Office Kuki philosophy. “When you look at the big picture, you’re focused on everyone who’s involved, all the stakeholders. You have to engage them all, tell the story of sustainability to everyone. You might not tell it the same way, though,” explained Reyes and Flaegel.
The Green Festival was a pivotal moment for the Kuki team, who have been taking on clients for under a year. They were excited to build relationships with other players in the world of sustainability, especially businesses that practice “collaborative consumption,” where a resource is shared through a platform, usually an online one (AirBnb is the best-known example). “The Green Festival signaled a more solid entrance into the world of sustainability, and we’re trying to get our name out and meet more clients,” said Reyes and Flaegel.