Sustainability has become a huge focus in recent years, with brands making a conscious effort to integrate environmental, economic and social awareness into their products, their business model, and their overall operations.
People want to support brands that care, and it’s important to demonstrate a strong commitment to sustainability in order to cement your brand’s presence within the conversation. The question is, how?
Here is our advice on the matter.
Hollow sustainability – the greenwashing risk:
Launching a one-off campaign for sustainability during a seasonal event, or during “green” occasions such as Earth Day, will come across as what it is: hollow. Consumers can tell when a brand is greenwashing, and it often backfires to do more damage than good.
Instead, develop the message slowly and steadily, implementing it into every aspect of the business practices. Show consumers that your changes are long-term, and not just temporary.
The right kind of message – what do consumers want?
Like any type of message that gets developed by your brand, the key is to focus on what consumers want. What does a sustainable brand look like to them?
Some of the biggest things consumers want, sustainability-wise, are the following:
- Sustainable packaging: it’s not enough for products and services to be sustainable, they have to look like it. Anything that consumers come into contact with needs to perpetuate your message of sustainability so that it becomes a core part of the brand.
- Transparency: this is one of the best ways to develop a sustainable message, as it shows the brand has nothing to hide, and is therefore honest and committed. Consumers want transparency regarding the sourcing of products, materials, policies, and business practices. Providing information on these is a great way to start!
- Waste management: reducing waste and optimising the lifespan of products and materials is one of the best ways to spread a sustainable message within the brand. There are many ways this can be done, and it can open up the door to collaborating with other brands and businesses with a similar goal.
- Sustainability training: a great way to spread a sustainable message is by educating consumers on different sustainability solutions, as well as providing training to all employees within the business. This ensures that sustainable practices are implemented throughout, and it encourages the accumulation of small steps taken together, as one big movement.
- Strong values: having a few core brand values is vital to supporting a message of sustainability. Consumers want to be able to pinpoint exactly what your brand is trying to accomplish, and this can help give the business direction rather than attempting a vague all-encompassing ‘be more sustainable’ goal.
- Taking a stance: sustainability isn’t just the implementation of practices, it is also getting involved in important ethical issues, and raising awareness. Consumers want brands that are willing to be proactive, fighting for what’s right. You can do this by being vocal in important environmental, social and economic matters, and by campaigning towards a better and greener future for all.
Long-term sustainability – how it benefits the brand:
There are studies that show consumers are more willing to spend money on sustainable brands, as opposed to those that aren’t. But more clients aren’t the only long-term benefit of developing your sustainable message.
Being sustainable can also open up your brand to new consumer markets, helping you grow and expand. It also differentiates your brand from others, hauling you as a solution, and as a respected point of reference within the industry.
However, arguably the best benefit is that it will help the brand have a reduced CO2 footprint so that it’s doing its bit in keeping the environment protected. After all, there’s only one Earth we call home.
In order to avoid greenwashing, your brand’s sustainable message should be implemented all year round, so that it becomes a core aspect of the business practice.
The message should focus on a few core values, taking into account what consumers want to see. Being transparent, managing waste and having sustainable packaging are all important steps to take. However, the brand should also focus on raising awareness, training its employees, and taking a stance on issues of environmental, economic, and social importance.
Developing a sustainable message takes time, but there are plenty of long-term benefits such as increased clients, an expanded consumer base, differentiation from other brands, a respected reputation within the industry, and, of course, a reduced CO2 footprint.