Mindful Masterclass #5: Communications - Path

By Krissie • 24 November 2022

Announcing the next article in our Mindful Masterclass series – a collection of pieces which focus on the brands that we believe are showing truly interesting or exemplary behaviour when it comes to mindful ecommerce practices.

Every piece in this series will place its attention on a business which is doing something remarkable in relation to one of the six pillars that make up our Sustainability Guide. We’ll look at the way that each chooses to present its brand positioning, lift the curtain to examine the tech stacks whirring away in the background, and highlight a few key takeaways that every brand could benefit from considering.

Meet Path 

Path is an American bottled water business – no wait, hear us out! Path is waging war on single use plastics, offering the “first certified refillable and 100% recyclable bottled water.” Sold in a sleek aluminium bottle, Path water recognises the convenience (dare we say, the inevitably) of bottled water and instead of denying it, presents a more sustainable option.

Their bottles are truly designed for reuse – and as proof of this, a number of accessories can even be purchased to customise your bottle and turn it into a viable long term solution, tweaked to meet your exact requirements. In our eyes, this adds to their sustainability, by encouraging customers to actively decide whether or not a swing cap is something they would value and use, as opposed to adding on to every single bottle regardless.

Mindful Communications: What are Path Doing Right? 

We’re highlighting Path as a great example of great branding and clarity of message. When it comes to communicating their brand story and main motivations, they’ve developed a beautifully clean, highly appealing visual language that clearly communicates the mission that’s driving the brand.

In addition to leveraging clever illustrations, Path also has a slightly playful tone of voice that manages to maintain the seriousness of the underlying message without making things feel too hopeless or heavy. Headlines are smart, and thought provoking. Their feel-good social media output focuses on positive environmental news stories. Simply put – Path manages to make sustainability a little bit sexy.

Is this necessary? Surely tried and tested eco-credentials trump slick branding and a great marketing team? In many ways, we’d argue that, no - this stuff is actually pretty important. If sustainability is going to become the mainstream, go-to option for your average consumer, then simply being “worthy” and trumpeting the same messages of doom and gloom over social media isn’t going to be enough to tempt them away from the brands spending millions of dollars on looking great. Ultimately, communication means education – Path is raising awareness of an issue, allowing customers to make a more informed decision and inspiring others to take action – all at the same time.

Path tells its story, and it tells its story well. It offers a less wasteful version of a hugely wasteful item - and for this to have mass impact, it needs mass appeal.

Beyond all this, Path have shown themselves time and time again to be masters of partnerships and campaigns. They’ve co-branded with huge names including Adidas and Yellowstone National Park. While behemoths like Adidas aren’t perfect when it comes to sustainability, they are clearly trying. By partnering with big brands, smaller companies can amplify their message and reach a bigger audience more effectively.

Path’s 2019 “fish in a bottle” social media campaign, launched to coincide with Earth Day, gained attention from celebrities and consumers alike, and their “Follow For A Bottle” social media campaign generated 40K followers. In 2019 they also ran a national “hydration station” campaign, encouraging reuse and refill.

Tech Teardown 

Path’s ecommerce store is run on Shopify, a platform that MindfulCommerce counts as one of the greenest options out there in terms of sustainability and ethical practice. They leverage Shogun, a page builder and front end platform that aligns with their strong focus on delivering a sleek, great looking visual experience.

It’s clear that analytics are a top priority, with Hotjar, Facebook Pixel and a range of Google tracking tools in use. From a customer support perspective, Live Chat and CRM is handled by Salesforce Service Cloud. Salesforce has achieved net zero residual emissions, uses 100% renewable energy for their operations, and is a founding partner of 1t.org.

Digital Carbon Footprint

As is the case with many of the sites we examine in this series however, Path don’t seem to have spent a huge amount of time addressing the physical impact of their digital presence. Their site is fairly simple and concise, but it still returns a “Bad” rating from Digital Beacon, with almost 10g of carbon emissions for every first time visitor to the site.

With a heavy use of Javascript across the site, one recommendation could be for them to minify files to reduce payload size and script parse time.

Takeaways from Path 

  • We advocate for a conscious approach to your visual branding, but Path are a great example of the value in beauty and really sharp marketing. A sustainable brand doesn’t have to “look” like a sustainable brand – it can be big, bold, modern and every bit as visually appealing as its less sustainable competitors. In fact, if green brands are going to rule the world, we need to get really good at packaging communications and selling them!

  • Path have ultimately scaled by putting powerful partnerships in place - with other brands and celebrities, but also with airports, schools, universities, hospitals and corporate offices. By getting their product into these spaces, they’re also getting their message in front of millions of people - keeping the issue of single use plastics at the forefront of people’s minds, and providing them with an easy and instant alternative.

  • Messaging doesn't have to be all doom and gloom. Path keeps the appeal of their social accounts high with plenty of feel good imagery and happier news stories of success within environmental work.

👉🏼 Learn more about Mindful Communications, and start spreading your brand’s core message more effectively - and more sustainably by accessing our FREE Sustainability Guide here!