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What is a regenerative brand and how do you (or your clients) become one?

Published 15 Jun 2021 3 minute read

Strategic Thinking
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In the first in our series of #future-ready forums, we looked at what it takes to be a regenerative brand. We were fortunate to have with us Tom Savigar from Avansere, a transformation company specialising in moving the enterprise forward to a regenerative and thriving state.

Tom was in conversation with Nigel Roth, Research Director at Further. Tom told us that, with sustainability now firmly on the agenda, the future will see brands seeking to go beyond being sustainable, to become regenerative.

He works with brands who are already on this journey and sees this as the challenge that will occupy the coming decade for future-focused, progressive organisations. This is not only because it is the right thing to do or because there are external pressures, but also because it makes good business sense.


When it comes to conversations around growth, conversations around productivity, conversations around resilience… it makes perfect sense commercially. And there are lots of reasons, from talent retention, to reputation management, to opening up new markets by being a brand that’s brave enough to go into new territories.

Tom Savigar, Founder, Avansere


What is a regenerative brand?

A regenerative brand is one that is committed to having a net positive impact on the world in terms of how its products and services affect and enhance the environment and also how its practices affect and inspire the people it touches: employees, consumers, supply chain partners, neighbours and even competitors. It is not enough for a regenerative brand to simply have a neutral effect, to be sustainable or do no harm; it must do good.

The purpose of a brand, increasingly, is to accelerate a more inclusive and sustainable economy. The role of a brand is to be a proactive agent of change. The business model behind the brand is a means to ensuring this happens.

Tom Savigar, Founder, Avansere


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Savigar gave some examples of brands whose behaviours show that they are on the road to regenerative:

  • On Earth Day in 2021, challenger bank Klarna partnered with environmental app Doconomy and Mastercard to provide credit card users with carbon impact calculations for all of their transactions, with the aim of educating consumers about the climate crisis. 
  • In California, Palari Group, a development company, is offering 3D printed homes. This is a revolutionary way of building that eliminates waste.
  • Adidas has created a shoe, Futurecraft.Loop, which is intended to be fully recyclable. This goes beyond shoes made from sustainable or recycled materials. The company has invested in technology that has enabled the manufacture of a shoe from just one, fully recyclable material, with no glue. Unlike other recycling schemes, where only parts of the shoe can be reused, when the wearer has finished with the Futurecraft.Loop, they can send it back to Adidas to be entirely remade into more shoes.
How do you become a regenerative brand?

There are five characteristics of a future-ready brand.   One of those we call Story-doing. By this we mean that brands have to transition from just storytelling, from having a great brand narrative, to actually putting it into practice. Becoming a regenerative brand requires this move towards story doing – and it’s not easy. If brands have started on this journey, they are likely at an early stage. To move to this model is challenging as it has to involve the entire value chain, and it can’t work without board-level commitment.

To use a mountaineering analogy, it’s like I'm at base camp and people want me to help them to go up to the summit. They turn up in North Face x Gucci collaboration jackets going, "We want to do this thing. It's really cool." And I go, "Do you know what it's really going to take?" We need not just marketing here, we need legal compliance, HR, operations, finance… it's an entire company conversation. It can only happen if the CEO and the C-suite are in this together saying, "It's time to do this." Tom Savigar, Founder, Avansere

Savigar says regenerative brands not only talk the right talk – have regenerative language in place both internally and externally in all of their comms - they also walk the right walk, which shows up in their internal behaviours, and they show up in the right way, which comes from having the right internal operations. Avansere uses a matrix of nine characteristics, under three themes, which the brands that are pushing past sustainability and into restoration and regeneration exhibit.

How regenerative brands walk the right walk
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Ultimately, brands will be forced to make this change, as customers and employees will demand it, and there will be legislation that makes it happen. Right now, there’s an opportunity to get ahead of the trend and start to think like a future-ready brand. Get in touch


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