5 tips – build a sustainable brand
Sustainability and the fact that companies take responsibility for the environment, social and economic development are becoming increasingly important for customers. It is a factor that influences consumers’ purchasing decisions in most industries and the third most important factor in terms of price and quality for corporate customers.
Over the past ten years, sustainability has moved from corporate PR departments, when it was often about charity and sponsorship, to integrating sustainability and making it part of the core business. The biggest challenge in the future is to move from linear to circular systems and business models.
1. Start from your own business!
Think about it! What is the purpose of your own organization? Is it a company, a hobby or a non-profit organization or do you belong to the public sector? What questions are relevant and important for you to work with? Who are your stakeholders and what is important to them?
2. Do a current situation analysis for your ‘sustainable brand’!
What is the brand’s position on sustainability? Circle the factors that affect perception! The industry, as well as the size and brand awareness, affect the image. Do a gap analysis between how the brand is perceived, how sustainable the company/product really is and what you do! That image is the basis for your communication strategy.
Remember that the brand is a perception – not an objective truth. Tesla is a company that is leading in sustainability ranking, but that does not mean that Tesla is more sustainable than other companies. However, Tesla wants to revolutionize the automotive industry and contribute to the development of battery technology, which can lead to more sustainable development on a global level.
3. Set up a strategy and set long-term goals!
Develop a strategy for sustainability work, set long-term goals and intermediate goals, make activity plans and follow up! Feel free to link your own goals to more general goals in international agreements such as the UN Agenda 2030 or the Paris Climate Agreement!
Describe your work in a plan for the next five to ten years. Make the plans available to those you want to involve.
Communicate the goals and engage stakeholders in the work to achieve them! For consumers, it may be about changing diet, recycling plastic or cycling to the store. Facilitate the right behavior – make it easy to do the right thing!
4. ‘Walk the Talk’ – tell us what you do and do as you say!
Follow up on the work in a sustainability report. Avoid painting, but don’t be afraid to tell us what you do! Tell us not only about good things but also about the less good things and your challenges!
The brand is built over time but can be ruined overnight. Be long-term, see opportunities and minimize risks related to sustainability! Companies that lead the development by developing innovative solutions are rewarded, but all the hard work can be ruined by a scandal due to child labor, corruption or cheating.
5. Take the help of standards, but dare to stand out and be unique!
As of 2017, it is mandatory for large companies to report sustainability. Accounting is central when it comes to communicating the company’s sustainability work. It tells about what has been done in areas such as work environment, energy consumption and climate emissions, human rights, and corruption.
When it comes to accounting, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the most established standard. But choose a format and address that suits your brand! Make it simple and understandable, use infographics, images, and stories to illustrate how the company’s sustainability work contributes to more sustainable development.