How Design Can Help Your Brand Make an Environmental Impact

+ How Design Can Help Your Brand Make an Environmental Impact


Writers Kaitlin Hook & Alberto Alvarado

Editor: Viri Serrano

Designers: Gabriel Cespedes & Mark Yoder

Escalating issues like climate change are becoming more and more visible, but the conversation around these issues are slowly gaining traction.

That’s where design agencies can play a bigger role. At Pastilla, we believe design plays a critical role in society and sustainability is no exception. We’re actively working to help our clients overcome communication challenges surrounding sustainability issues, spread awareness of the ways it affects disadvantaged communities, and ultimately mobilize their audiences to make small actions that add up to a big impact. 

We’re shining a spotlight on the ways Pastilla design can be leveraged to help brands like yours make a meaningful, environmental difference. 

Turning Customers into Climate Heroes 

Slapping sustainability onto your brand as an afterthought isn’t a quick fix. When customers see your brand do its environmental part, it must feel authentic and importantly, connected to your brand’s mission and purpose. Our work with Metrolink was to discover a way to get customers thinking about climate change in a way that made sense for the services they offered. The “Ride for Free” campaign emerged – a 24-hour event where Metrolink Riders were given a “free ride” to thank them for doing their part to reduce carbon emissions. 

These small acts had big impact in more ways than one. The free fare promotion led to a 62% increase in boardings compared to the week before and an increase in boarding by 5,596 passengers. Most importantly, weekday ridership recovered 35% of pre-pandemic ridership levels and, overall weekend ridership recovered by 63%.

Digital Tools for Real Change

In Los Angeles, lower-income neighborhoods like Watts typically have less than 10% canopy coverage from trees compared to 40% in more wealthy communities. More and more residents are vulnerable to life-threatening heat. Knowing where to start can be overwhelming. In partnership with the Housing Authority of Los Angeles’ Watts Rising Collective, we rolled up our sleeves to design an easy-to-use digital tool to empower residents to take real action. Our solution? The Tree Dedication Platform. With a swipe of their phone, residents are instantly connected to tree-planting programs on their block.  

Peer-to-Peer Mobilization

Sometimes the best way to inspire change within a community is to hear from real people. That was our approach with the Watts Rising collective video series for the Housing Authority of Los Angeles. Each video we created features a Watts resident sharing why local environmental action matters –in their own words, language, and even through poetry– to inspire neighbors to get involved. 

Bringing Climate Action Home

Climate change affects us all, but the urgency is lost when it’s not felt directly in your backyard. The City of Pasadena Water & Power approached us to create a ripple effect in the sea of today’s water crisis campaigns. Before jumping into design, we drew inspiration from the source: Pasadena residents and city staff. Through focus groups, one on one interviews, pop-up engagements, and a digital survey that amassed 2,000+ responses, we heard loud and clear: Residents love Pasadena for its natural beauty and City Staff love Pasadena for its independent control of its local water. Merging both streams together, we’re underway to develop a four-year campaign to inspire everyone that real climate action is closer to home than they thought. 

Optimizing SEO to Maximize User Engagement

Rather than reinventing the wheel, our Pastilla team also leverages tools to maximize and extend the shelf-life of digital content that partners like you develop. Take our partnership with Clean Power Alliance (CPA), a not-for-profit organization that leads the country in serving the most customers with 100% renewable energy and a bank of online resources. As CPA’s service area expands beyond its current 32 communities with over 3 million customers, CPA approached Pastilla to improve the discovery experience of its clients while engaging new users. Our page redesign and development improvements –such as improving the site’s performance optimization– have made it easier for people to find the right educational resources about clean energy, improving KPIs.

Looking to make an environmental difference with your brand? Connect with us to transform your vision into a meaningful impact on the world!