What does it mean to have a sustainable brand?

Despite your best efforts, your brand is not just what you say it is. Your brand is an evolving relationship between your company and your customer. Whether that customer is a stakeholder or a consumer, it’s important to understand that a brand is sustained by a two-way dialogue based on promises of quality of a service or product.

This is where sustainability branding, when done properly and with honesty, can be a powerful asset to your company. Not only does it provide tangible value in your company’s viability to investors and customers, but it also encourages your company to self-reflect and align brand values with corporate values.

According to an article published by Greenbiz, sustainable branding forces you to reconcile what your company is doing with what your company is saying about itself. When companies start branding themselves as sustainable, it’s crucial to start talking about the structural issues of the company’s value chain that may have social, environmental or governance impacts.

A sustainability strategy can’t begin and end with a single ESG report. It requires an in-depth look at the inner workings of the corporate strategy. In what ways can that strategy be fundamentally altered to fit a sustainable market?

ESG reporting and sustainable brands

ESG reporting can be an invaluable tool for sustainable branding, as it presents an opportunity to collect and distribute meaningful data about your company’s impacts on the world and down to the local community. However, it doesn’t necessarily include the entirety of your sustainable brand.

In many cases, ESG reporting may help your company measure and respond to structural environmental, social and governance issues in your corporate strategy. That’s a crucial first step towards building a brand around sustainability that speaks to customers with transparency.

Reporting can also help demonstrate to investors that your company is properly measuring and managing risks associated with climate change and social impacts. This can go a long way towards positioning your company as a forward-thinking industry leader.

Above all else, ESG reporting helps build brand integrity. It provides hard, tangible data to back up the intangible concept that is your brand. Since brands are a constant conversation, ESG reporting is useful for opening up that conversation, and letting customers and stakeholders alike know that you are willing to transparently share your sustainability progress and goals. Sustainability, by its very nature, is an evergreen concept always in motion.

The sustainability ecosystem

As more companies market themselves as sustainable, they often have to reconcile questions about their brand strategy. The critical questions raised about sustainability often lead to bigger questions about the company as a whole: Who are we? Are our mission, vision and values aligned with our business goals?

To build a brand around sustainability in an authentic way, companies need to reflect on these questions, and determine where they can meaningfully contribute to the conversation around sustainability. There are three main places that companies can find their niche in a sustainable ecosystem:

  • Companies that can do what they do more sustainably and smarter.
  • Companies that can enable a transition to a better future.
  • Companies that can change their entire model to improve the future.

Some companies can make adjustments to their existing value chain to make sure they’re doing business responsibly and more efficiently. Others (often B2B companies) can enable other businesses to operate sustainably. Many other companies might find that an entire re-evaluation of their strategy is necessary to ensure that their values are aligned with ESG.

Taking a long, hard look at how exactly your brand can represent sustainable values will go a long way towards developing your brand’s perception and its social license to operate. In a world where the public is quick to judge whether a company meets their personal values, make sure to stand out with intentional thought about sustainability.

At eSmart Recycling, we believe in public-private partnerships to build a more sustainable future that guarantees the wellbeing of the society. We would not be able to deliver equipment to at-risk children and families in the same way if many community stakeholders were not involved; from our corporate partners, to our non-profit partners.

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