Plan A May Not Be Working


Everyone in the UK is familiar with the name Marks & Spencer. If you are a regular shopper at the high street retailer, you probably also are familiar with Plan A, the business’s measure to make their stores as environmentally friendly as possible.

The Marks & Spencer logo design has been a part of shopping in London and other major cities in the UK for generations now, with a calming, upscale dark green colour and a smooth, sophisticated font. Plan A has a similarly minimalist logo, with the name of the initiative shown in even plainer writing in either a crisp, leafy green or white. Both logos are now a large part of Marks & Spencer stores. In fact, as of this month the retailer has implemented 70 of the 180 parts of the plan, including recycling company waste and carrying more environmentally sound products. This plan is not just a superficial change, but a complete rethinking of the way M&S does business from sourcing to waste disposal.

With consumers in the UK thinking more about green living than ever, there has never been a better time to make ‘green’ a part of your core brand and even your logo design. However, Marks & Spencer is struggling to maintain their upscale image at the same time. Sales have barely grown since the adoption of Plan A, and shoppers are beginning to grumble about the selection. Part of this may be due to Plan A, but much is caused by a brand that is stagnant. The retailer clearly wants to enter a period of growth, but this can be difficult or even impossible in their current brand placement.

However, many green-minded shoppers are giving the retailer credit for making more than nominal changes to their business in an attempt to change to carbon neutral operations. Indeed, the benefits of making your brand a little greener are clear, but any changes to your core business come with risks as well. There are ways to hedge your bets in this gamble, and maintaining your core brand—the one that brought shoppers in the first place—is a key part of the puzzle.

Plan A just might work if Marks & Spencer can find a way to implement it without interfering with their core brand values of quality and selection. A new marketing scheme, called, “Only at M & S” may help with this. However, the brand needs to take steps to ensure that there are few changes to the product line-up and the overall shopping experience as well.

Marks & Spencer has seen the challenges of many decades and is in a good position to add environmental awareness to their core brand without losing other important values. In fact, their current slump may merely be ‘growing pains’ that often come along with major changes to a company brand. If you think your company’s brand, logo design, or other aspects need a little green tinge, talk to a branding consultant today.