How to build trust with sustainability branding

We are at a critical juncture for planetary health. Businesses and institutions are pressed with the urgency of leading systemic change. The CDP Carbon Majors Report of 2017 revealed that just one hundred businesses are responsible for seventy-one percent of carbon emissions since 1988. Consumers are well aware of the role businesses play in sustainability, and they exert influence through their pocketbooks. As of 2015, sixty-six percent of consumers were willing to spend more on a product from a sustainable brand, while this figure jumped to seventy-three percent for millennials (Forbes, 2018). Meanwhile, sustainable businesses have found their stride. Unilever's brands that prioritize environmental and social concerns have seen double the growth of the others in its portfolio.

This is why it is crucial to build trust by developing a sustainable brand message for your business.

However, it is important to think beyond just the environment. Sustainability means economic, social, and economic responsibility, and these are all interconnected pieces to the same puzzle. The following list of seventeen sustainable development goals defined by UNIDO provides a broader range of areas to explore as you establish your sustainability mission. The benefit of this list is that it allows businesses to think of their social and environmental roles holistically.

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Acknowledging the state of the planet and responding through your position of power will prove to consumers you do not merely put profits over our well-being. Such an ethical stance attracts loyalty. Beware that quick fixes, half-hearted attempts, and greenwashing could backfire, though. Make sure to fully research your strategy and implement sustainability branding as an intrinsic feature of your business plan. Here are some helpful tips to ensure you maintain sound business practices as you do so.

4 Tips for Improving your Sustainable Brand Image

#1) Build Longevity into your Business Plan

Think of your product or service as a force of change across its lifespan. This helps you to adopt the holistic perspective needed to develop a sustainable brand.

This could mean avoiding risk or even transforming your entire operational system. Establish aims that make the most sense for your business model and customer base. While a complete overhaul for your business model may not be achievable, approach sustainability through the problem solving lens.

Think of how your business values and the needs of the planet intersect. If you believe in efficiency, for example, why not apply this philosophy to every element of your supply chain to ensure that extra costs, waste, distances, and raw materials are minimized. Share your successes in terms of their sustainable benefits.

#2) Drive Innovation by Making Smart Improvements

Sustainability doesn't only mean choosing from a limited range of existing options. It can also mean solving problems through critical thinking to develop new methods, processes, or designs that change the status quo. If you have the funds to invest into research and development for sustainability, it could reap huge rewards for your business in the long term.

An innovative approach can manifest in small ways, too. Perhaps you wish to open the lines of communication between your company and its stakeholders by holding live facebook sessions. It is something that could be relatively easy to organize and publicize. Yet, it would give stakeholders a stronger sense of ownership and involvement in the company.

#3) Find Novel ways to Communicate Transparency

Remaining transparent means allowing stakeholders to confirm the validity of your claims. Transparency comes in many forms involving finance, production, operation, and supply-chain of your business. Companies that are forthcoming with this information put their stakeholders at ease.

There are plenty of ways to report your company's sustainability goals and progress to stakeholders, including a Corporate Social Responsibility report. However, interested parties may wish to receive this information in more digestible formats. Consider the user experience of your constituents by translating cumbersome reports into infographics, or making a short video to document the improvements to your facilities.

Finally, it is important to share the human dimension of your company's story by telling the stories of individuals within your business. This will give a face to your organization. By sharing the hopes, desires, and fears of the regular people you work with, you'll add emotional depth to the work you do.

#4) Tell Stories that Reflect a Sense of Pride

Building a sustainable brand requires disrupting the status quo by being bold. It takes courage to defend an ethical stance. Take pride in your brand by amplifying the stories that set your business apart. Consider your sustainable brand message a badge of honor. If no other company has attempted what you have done, it makes you the leader, right? People will naturally support and remain loyal to businesses willing to fight the good fight.

Final Thoughts

Whatever approach you choose to take remain creative in your storytelling style. Use social media engagement to share these resources and engage in conversations around your business's ethical stance. Include links back go your blog and reserve the juiciest details for the loyal supporters who subscribe to your newsletters. With so many different digital media channels available, you can easily generate buzz around your brand while also building trust.

To consult with me about improving your website, blog, or newsletters to craft a meaningful sustainable brand message, please write me an email at ERICA@ERICAELLER.COM today.  

Erica EllerComment