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Rethinking Sustainability: Brand Risks And Opportunities (Webinar)

Date: 25 April 2013

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Executive Summary

Rethinking Sustainability: Brand Risks And Opportunities (Webinar)In the last two years, a small number of leading firms have started to integrate sustainability within corporate communications, in pursuit of brand benefits. Between these and the ones that still refuse to talk about sustainability sit the bulk of $1 billion plus firms, keeping sustainability communications in a silo and pushing out messages and reports to limited audiences, primarily the ‘green ghetto’. 

This webinar will help executives responsible for sustainability communications, whether sitting in sustainability or marketing functions, to understand the different strategic approaches and the business case for enhancing communications. Verdantix will reveal five sustainability communications strategies used by organisations today, and outline the benefits of adopting sustainability as a key brand attribute and implementing innovative sustainability communications.


Why Are Sustainability Communications Challenging? 

Pockets of national policy are emerging, adding to pressure to report on sustainability
Non-financial reporting guidelines are changing
Benchmarks, listings and indices add to the pressure
Sustainability reports lead communication channels, reflecting dominance of Advocate approach
Reporting and disclosure is just one vehicle for sustainability communications
At the same time, firms are seeking brand benefits from sustainability communications
Sustainability communications demands ramp up but budgets remain stagnant 

What Are The Different Strategies For Communicating Sustainability?

Five sustainability communications strategies have emerged
The audience for each strategy is a key differentiator
For Nothingists sustainability is off the communications agenda 
Nothingist example: Windstream Communications has not responded to the pressure to talk about CSR and sustainability
For Reactionists sustainability communications are a crisis management activity typically focussed on one key risk area
Reactionist example: Golden Agri Resources’ reactive strategy focusses on sustainable sourcing
Advocates manage sustainability communications in a silo
Advocate example: Molson Coors has an active sustainability programme but until recently kept communications siloed
The Advocate strategy raises questions around brand enhancement as messages don’t reach key business audiences
Explorers use sustainability to retrofit the corporate brand
Explorer example: H&M is at the start of its journey
For Purists sustainability is synonymous with the corporate brand 
Purist example: Natura’s value proposition focuses on sustainable and natural cosmetics

How To Kick Start  A Rethink Towards The Optimal Sustainability Communications Strategy

Self diagnosis: How is my firm currently communicating sustainability?
Next step is to consider whether the current strategy is actually delivering the desired business benefits
If brand enhancement is the goal, Chief Marketing Officers need to take the reins 
Heads of Communications and Marketing need to set the stage for sustainability and communications alignment 
To kick start the upgrade of sustainability communications, CMO should...


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