The term “sustainability” is everywhere. In recent years, MNCs, international non-profits and even micro-influencers are jumping onto the bandwagon. Besides being a statement or a feel-good video, sustainability branding is greater than the sum of its parts. From environmental impact to inclusivity and diversity, this is where we talk about all-things sustainability branding.
So what exactly is sustainability?
Many brands have experimented with environmental sustainability in some form–reducing carbon emission, limiting plastic use, or even planting trees. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. And as you venture deeper, sustainability means so much more than being environmentally conscious. It’s about promoting or instilling practices that enable long-term positive impact for the environment, people and the world.
Enter ESG: Environmental, social and governance. These are the pillars that uphold sustainability. Environmental deals with issues that affect nature, climate, biodiversity and even waste processing around us. Social revolves around community matters such as diversity, inclusivity and equality. Lastly, governance is a measurement of accountability, transparency and the business ethics of an organisation.
What does this mean for us; brand custodians, marketers and creatives?
The idea of sustainability is brimming with opportunities for brands. Beyond marketing campaigns, it’s also a guide for identifying a brand’s purpose, beliefs and strategies. This naturally boils down to every aspect of the branding experience from platforms, partnerships, packaging and people. Let’s explore how we can influence our brands to make an impact on the future.
1. Understanding how sustainability pipes into your branding
It’s not in what you say, but what you do. Sustainability initiatives only become fruitful when it aligns with your overarching brand purpose and operations. Oftentimes, when implementing such plans, brands tend to jump on trends that may be seen as “low-hanging fruits” without considering the bigger picture. To make matters worse, some brands may have business operations that contradict their good intentions. One such act of sustainability comes to mind: The removal of plastic straws. While the move puts the brand in the right direction, it also raises cynicism among netizens, questioning if it’s for cost-reducing measures or worse; greenwashing, since most of these restaurants still use plastic lids and bags.
The route to building a sustainable brand shouldn’t be paved on convenience. It’s the combination of long-term strategy, re-evaluating operations and repositioning messages that uncovers a brand’s deeper purpose. Learn how you can find your brand’s sustainability angle in our article below.
2. Marketing with a cause
Everyone has a belief worth fighting for. This is why when a brand starts advocating for a cause, they feel human and relevant. It signals to audiences that the brand understands the current landscape and is a bastion for a movement. Having this shared purpose builds meaningful relationships too, which differentiates a brand from transactional connections.
As a sustainable brand gets more recognition, it will start to attract a dedicated following. And that’s when a brand reputation is formed. Audiences will start associating a brand to its cause, helping the initiative spread through word of mouth online and offline. To maintain that positive perception, a brand needs to continue to walk the talk and align its actions externally and internally. Prepare your brand for social impact, read more below.
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