Eight Reasons Green Brands Suck: Part 3, Big Ass Fans Definitely Don’t Suck (They Blow)

How’s this for ungreen positioning? “Unlike typical fans, Big Ass Fans couple energy-efficient motors with patented airfoil designs, inspired by airplane wings, to move large volumes of air quietly and efficiently.”

In this “Eight Reasons Green Brands Suck” blog series, I’ve covered “The List,” Tesla and Nest. Now, in Part 3, here’s our shout-out to another great sustainable product with ungreen positioning — Big Ass Fans–and our vision for “A World Where Sustainability is Simply Expected.”

Last week, after talking about why Tesla and Nest don’t suck, our staff of EnviroMedians gave me another example of bad-ass “ungreen” positioning. Have you heard of Big Ass Fans? Founded in 1999, and headquartered in Lexington, Kentucky, this company makes really big fans for industrial, business and residential uses, and now offers Big Ass LED lights. If you live in Austin like I do, go down to the Corner Bar at the J.W. Marriott and you’ll see a couple big ol’ Big Ass Fans.

Keeping things cool at the J.W. Marriott in Austin.

As their name suggests, the folks at Big Ass Fans obviously don’t take themselves too seriously, so it’s already a fun brand. And in their positioning you’ll find words like “energy efficient,” “minimalistic design,” and “comfort.”

My fellow EnviroMedians are right. Big Ass Fans definitely belong in the “ungreen” category with Tesla and Nest. In fact, their Haiku product for homes (“the world’s most advanced ceiling fan”) can even link to the Nest thermostat for temperature control. Cool! Plus, you can synchronize the sleep modes between your Jawbone wearable fitness band and Big Ass’s Haiku fan.

I combed Big Ass’s website and recent press, and did not immediately uncover straight-up “green” positioning. Until, oops, I stumbled upon this on their website:

If I can forgive Nest for it’s Leaf feature, I can forgive Big Ass for this little-ass reference to the cliché word, “green.”

Last August, Amy Westervelt wrote in The Wall Street Journal about “green guilt,” and quoted Gunilla Eisenberg, founder of Gunilla Skin Alchemy in Denmark: “[In Denmark] sustainability is expected — every product is made with quality ingredients and expected to last a lifetime. It’s just how things are made, so we don’t really have any hang-ups about it. … But in the U.S., there’s a lot of morality and judgment tied up in it, and those are two things I didn’t want anywhere near a high-end skin-care brand.”

When I read that, I thought, “Aaaaaahhhhhhh!” How’s that for a vision for any company, or any human being?

A world where sustainability is simply expected.

Not a world where products and companies are disingenuously trumpeted as the best thing the planet and its people have ever seen.

If sustainability requires innovation, and innovation is cool, then that must mean sustainability is cool. So why not position sustainability that way and not resort to that infernal habit of labeling progress as “green.”

Recall reason #8 in the list of “Eight Reasons Green Brands Suck.” “Alienating.” Just like Ms. Eisenberg of Gunilla Skin Alchemy suggests above, green guilt can alienate far too many good customers. Instead of using “green” positioning, I offer you the above brand attributes that should apply to any product in “a world where sustainability is simply expected.” More than anything, as the 21st Century evolves, please, don’t be “green.” Just be innovative. Just be cool. Just be awesome.

At EnviroMedia, we promote the innovation behind our company car -the hybrid electric Chevy Volt.

Special thanks to my awesome colleagues Dan Driscoll and Will Lynch for helping me brainstorm the “Eight Reasons Green Brands Suck” list.

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