Creating A Sustainable Brand

By Lauren | Brain food

Jun 20

It's easy to put a green tinge or add a leaf to your logo and think that's enough but it really is just "greenwashing" your brand.

So you take it a step further and change the paper in your printer to a more sustainable option, pop a few recycling bins round the office, change the lights to LEDs and put some dolphin friendly tuna on the menu to make your brand more environmental.

It's a good start, but did you know your approach to sustainability can include social and environmental factors that add massive brand value?

Triple bottom line reporting is more than accounting for your brand asset on financial terms, it adds sustainably responsible actions of your brand to help evaluate your performance and worth.

And it makes sense for your brands sustainable direction so that you, your staff, partners, suppliers and customers can understand it as well.

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Unfortunately, sustainability is often sidelined to an afterthought with branding,

That's because most businesses have trouble with ‘going green’. They see it as a hassle with no benefit to the bottom line.

They consider sustainability is all about cutting back and taking drastic steps to reduce your environmental footprint.

But it really is not possible to have zero impact on the environment.

If you didn't cut down any trees, there would be less oxygen production, because new, growing trees convert more carbon dioxide to oxygen than older trees.

You might choose recycled paper, but you are using more energy and water and potentially polluting more waterways, whereas if you chose a paper made from virgin fibre from a sustainably managed forest you'd use far less energy and create less environmental impact.

So you decide the paper thing is too hard, let's just print less collateral and use email instead, but did you know there is more power used to keep the servers going around the globe than ever before!

When it comes to sustainability, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

When it comes to sustainability, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

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And that makes it really difficult for business owners to make decisions about the value of going green.

The business ends up doing bits and pieces on the side that don't create any meaningful impact for their customers or their bottom line.

But there is a far more meaningful way to be a leader in your industry, inspiring others and setting the bench-mark, while continuing to maintain a focus on creating a profitable brand.

Sustainability means being able to maintain a certain rate or level.

It includes making money and paying yourself, your staff and suppliers so they can put food on the table and keep a roof over the heads of their families.

It means balance and equilibrium.

Being radical and upsetting the balance in your business is not sustainable.

And greening your brand without purpose won't wash with your customers, staff or associates either.

But you can embrace sustainability and create a meaningful brand with a sustainable heart without paying lip-service to green options.

Sustainability is not an ‘add on’, it can become part of your brand personality and culture if you choose a focal point that best fits with your ethics, passions and point of difference.

It's simply a matter of choosing which aspect of sustainability means the most for your brand, rather than trying to everything and achieving little.

For example, when we provided print management services to a major energy company, they were printing on recycled paper, considering it to be more environmentally friendly.

However, as it turns out, their brand was all about energy efficiency and recycled paper is miles less energy efficient.

Instead we found them a paper made from sustainable forests, turned into paper by a mill that used it’s own rubbish to fuel the boilers, then printed their publications on energy efficient presses.

When they shifted from ‘sustainability’ to ‘energy efficiency’ they were able to make meaningful change for their brand values and marketing strategy which made much more sense for their stakeholders, staff and customers.

If environmental protection is at the heart of your brand, choose processes and channels that have the least environmental impact.

Avoid anything that uses excess water, creates pollution, uses animal products or destroys their environment. You might choose a gift product that support the Orangutang's, or give a sapling to your clients for xmas - encouraging them to plant a tree rather than decorating one.

Perhaps your brand focus is on Waste management, which is all about recycling, reusing and repurposing. Recycling bins in the office, reusing envelopes, repurposing waste paper as notepads.

Your yearly social activity might be a beach cleanup, or collection of recycling at a school.

If your brand is all about being socially responsible, you can embrace the community around you and your suppliers. At Pivotal, our production management company that focused closely on working together with our clients and suppliers, we employed soccer teams and sheltered workshops for finishing jobs. Funding many sports team trips over the years!

A sustainable brand is all about congruency, practicing what you preach and infusing it into everything you do.

A sustainable brand is all about practicing what you preach.

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Four Sustainable Focal Points:

1. Environmental Protection - Flora, fauna, water and air quality and taking care of the planet...

2. Energy Efficiency - solar, sustainable forestry, biofuel manufacturing sources, energy efficient servers...

3. Social Responsibility- community, employment, health, education and equality...

4. Waste Management - pollution, landfill, recycling, reuse and repurposing...

And the best part is you can choose just one of these that most aligns with your brand foundation, purpose and passion.

Then you can make meaningful decisions about creating your sustainable brand.

Choose one focal point for your sustainable brand.

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This means you can add your sustainable activities to the triple bottom line reporting for your brand.

Set your intentions, create an action plan, ensure you have good measurement and review it regularly.

Add your sustainable focal point into your mission statement, awards entries, grant applications, shareholders announcements and annual reports.

Get your team, clients and suppliers on board too.

Because of you can lead the way with your brand, others will follow.

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About the Author

Lauren Clemett is the Best Selling Author of the “SELLING YOU” series of practical guidebooks Know Me, Like Me & Trust Me. She is a personal branding specialist and award winning Neurobrander, helping service providers and consultants generate more income from their expertise. For more information Click Here.

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