Brand comms and sustainability: don't make it a shotgun wedding

In a world where the constant barrage of online noise is ever-increasing in volume and intensity, never has the term ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ been more relevant to the unfortunate shotgun wedding of brands and sustainability.
In a world where the constant barrage of online noise is ever-increasing in volume and intensity, never has the term ‘jumping on the bandwagon’ been more relevant to the unfortunate shotgun wedding of brands and sustainability.

If this union isn’t done properly, then you’ll quite likely be looking at a messy and costly divorce.

With so many different avenues and causes, what are the right approaches to take to gain loyal consumers and avoid the ugly stamp of ‘greenwashing’?

Most brands are looking to incorporate some form of positive social or environmental impact in their businesses, so setting yourself apart is becoming increasingly complicated.

Eighty per cent of consumers say they would feel more loyal to brands that value community and environmental growth over money and status, so brands need to look to drive innovation and transparency through their core messaging, thus cultivating, connecting and engaging on an organic level.

Companies should be looking at defining their ‘vision statement’ for their consumers and aligning this to everything they do.

This will enable consumers to understand a brand’s focus and priorities, and ultimately the goals that it plans to work toward to generate positive impacts on the environment.

Consistency is key.

Being ‘sustainable’ is not about gaining coverage on Greenpeace Day and showing off your sustainable business credentials or B Corp badge.

This, unfortunately, is what a lot of brands profit from; but it’s a poor strategy that could result in backlash and bad publicity.

Whether you are a fintech accelerator or a fashion brand, consumers ultimately want to see brands leading from the front, making a difference in creative ways and being a ‘disruptor’ in their industry.

Start-ups need to look at their competitors and ask themselves how they can address environmental mitigation through one or two key relevant areas by addressing the current issues in their market.

You need surgical precision rather than a scattergun approach when understanding a brand’s objectives, and this will be essential to communicating your idea to your customers.

Another important way that brands can set themselves apart is by looking at how they can drive their consumers to make positive changes in their own lifestyles, through the use of their products or services.

Passionate early adopters are always the best champions of your product and, if your customers can see your product actively counteracting their own environmental footprint, they will be much more likely to purchase or support your cause.

Once a brand has established its objectives, it needs to actively communicate its ideas in a way that resonates with its consumer audience.

There are many ways to get your brand seen and heard, but when it comes down to sustainability, companies need to be transparent with their customers and communicate with them on an emotional level.

Consumers want to see real stories and real statistics, and if you can achieve all this, you are well on your way to creating real change and having a positive impact across the board.

Michael Raven is chief executive of Blazon Agency

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