communication, détroit, sustainability, innovation, ecology, USA, branding, brand, sustainable

Claire and Guillaume from strategic planning were in Detroit from 22 to 25 May for Sustainable Brands, the global event for responsible and innovative brands. Workshops, testimonies, city tours ... Making the most of the opportunity of being there, they were able to discuss topics ranging from food in cities to the workings of urban farms, a widespread phenomenon in Detroit.
For, contrary to popular belief, far from being a ghost town, Detroit is a city of the future - especially in terms of social innovation and sustainability.
But how has vital necessity, which the American city has been feeling the effects of since the 1950s, created the conditions for the emergence of tomorrow’s solutions?
Claire explains the important lessons that the reinvention of Detroit can teach us in a series of 5 articles! She gives us an insider’s view of three days filled with discoveries, sharing and emotions.
We’ve already posted the first three episodes: “Ford and Detroit: a History of Interwoven Destinies”, “Human Beings beyond the Headlines”, and “Places of Reinvention Reinvented”.
Let’s move on to the fourth episode in our series, “Let your Inner Values Shine Through”.

One subject that has always been a hot topic in the US is diversity. An integral part of the original project, seen as at once as an opportunity and a threat, it is still deeply controversial, even more so since the election of President Trump.
I’d just like to briefly zoom in on a brand we discovered at Sustainable Brands, which found itself inadvertently in the spotlight during the election campaign, but which succeeded in using the opportunity to reaffirm its values …


What is it?
A brand of Greek yoghurt launched in 2005 which in just 10 years has established itself as the leader of its category in the US. The commitment of the brand: to make quality products of high nutritional value accessible to all.
Why did I choose to talk to you about it?
Because its founder, Hamdi Ulukaya, is in a league of his own.


 A Turkish journalist, he was forced to emigrate to the US in 1994. He couldn’t speak the language, but a few months later found work on a farm north of New York. There, surrounded by men who didn’t speak the same language, but with whom he shared the same opinions and values ​​of simplicity, he felt at home for the first time in his life.
So when he acquired his factory, Hamdi decided to create an original model that had the same sense of humanity. And so Chobani was born, a brand of yoghurt made from natural ingredients, GMO-free, locally produced and animal friendly.


A man like him, in the world we live in, is bound sometimes to makes waves.
In the recent US presidential campaign, Hamdi inadvertently found himself the center of attention. Why? His factory had developed largely by employing refugees. A golden opportunity for fake news to accuse him of bringing crime and tuberculosis to towns near his factories...
In response, the brand kept its dignity and decided to reaffirm its founding values: a company with strong family and solidarity values, making no distinction between its employees on the base of origin, personality or belief; a company that believes in its mission and commits on a daily basis to making a difference for its consumers, society and the environment through its yoghurts.
Based on this approach are a manifesto and advertising campaign that reflect the image of its founder: humble, inspiring and deeply human.



Could it inspire other brands?
What strikes me most is how strong a brand built for and with its employees can be. For a long time brands were like big black boxes that told us a nice story, but never allowed us to see what happens within their walls. With the development of digital and the advent of active consumers, times have changed. And today, to be credible, what goes on inside mustn’t differ too much from outward appearances. Consumers now look for authenticity and not just what goes into their product. Buying into a project brand like Chobani also means participating in building a story. Some brands have clearly understood the interest of showcasing their employees and opening up to foster customer involvement. I’m thinking here of Fleury Michon and its “Venez Vérifier” (Come and See for Yourself) Operation  (You know - those Alaskan fishermen who challenge you to board their boat to check if there is really no fish in their surimi!); Danone with its "Origins" campaign that takes us to meet employees in their workplace; or Sodebo’s Entrée Libre campaign which offered people free entry to its factories last year.
Still further …
Before we finish, I’d just like to lead you a little further down the road towards real humanity. I’m going to leave you with the words of the TEDx of Mike Brady, the founder of the Greyston Bakery, who, when I met him in Detroit, delivered his idea in a two-minute pitch, “It’s simple. I employ anyone who walks through my factory doors”. I’ll let Mr. Brady fill you in on the details ;)