Sustainability and reputation are very much connected. Managing your social and environmental impact can have various effects on your business and your brand scaling, from having a unique market positioning to ruining the reputation of the organisation.
How to build a sustainable brand?
Building a sustainable or eco-conscious brand is no easy task. Whether you are just starting a business and want to be more eco-friendly, or you are already established and want to become more sustainable, it can be challenging.
However, it is achievable which is why many businesses across the globe are harnessing more green credentials. In saying that, sustainability cannot simply be a brief thought, but time and dedication must go into it.
Building a sustainable brand is not just about making your products and services more environmentally friendly. Rather, you need to look at the entire process that goes into creating your products and services and make changes from there.
In other words, sustainability encompasses environmental issues concerning how the business is run and its supply chain. It also consists of social and ethical issues like diversity, fair wages, and working practices.
In addition, the traceability of the products you sell, how transparent you are with stakeholders and customers, and the governance of the brand.
With all of this in mind, below some practical tips to build a company’s reputation for sustainability.
Brand honesty and transparency
Transparency is key when it comes to building a sustainable brand. Failing to share honest information or details on how exactly you are sustainable could result in greenwashing or green botching (sustainability actions backfiring or poorly implemented), which can have negative effects on both brand image and reputation.
Even if you are just starting with sustainability, customers will appreciate it. You need to tell them where you are on the journey and what the next stages are in your plan to become more eco-friendly. It doesn’t stop there, you need to update them on your journey too.
To build a reputation for sustainability, you must appear as a leader and understand exactly what you are talking about.
When trying to figure out how to communicate with customers, acknowledge that some may not have a good knowledge of sustainability.
Therefore, communicating your processes and what exactly makes your products environmentally sound is essential while addressing your consumers’ specific concerns around sustainability.
Make your products more circular
Another way you can build a strong reputation for sustainability is by making your products more circular. This shows customers you are committed and taking action against issues like waste and pollution.
Additionally, making products circular often increases their lifespan, so you are ultimately creating more value for your customers. Implementing sustainable business practices will encourage your competitors and other companies to follow suit, and we are all trying to achieve the same goal here.
Circularity refers to reusing, recycling, and refurbishing products. Therefore, it could mean using materials or resources that would have otherwise been discarded to create a product or fixing a product to make it high-quality and usable again.
When thinking of how to make your products circular, it all comes back to trying to keep items in circulation for longer and avoiding disposal.
Circularity isn’t about reinventing the wheel but figuring out how to extend the lifespan of products and resources.
Build a more eco-conscious supply chain
One way to display your dedication and commitment is by looking at how you can make improvements in your supply chain.
Think about where your materials and resources come from, who your partners are, what their values are, and whether they are working towards sustainability.
Partnering with like-minded organisations can make a big difference and help you contribute even more positive change.
Take fashion, for instance, if you are working towards becoming more environmentally conscious, you need to know where the clothes are being created and who is creating them. Are the workers receiving a fair wage? What are their work conditions like? What is the environmental impact of the production?
Embed sustainability into your company’s mission and vision
The brands that have a strong reputation for sustainability are those that have recognised the correlation between sustainability and their business activities and goals.
These organisations have not made sustainability a separate goal but made it part of their reason for existing.
They have a purpose beyond generating profits and making sales. Sustainability is a factor in everything they do, and they consider it in every business decision that is made.
Beyond the positive benefits for the planet, showing this commitment can help them to win more customers, raise awareness, attract new talent, and build a better working organisation.
Set goals and genuinely measure your impact
In an effort to build a reputation for sustainability, you could run the risk of getting a reputation for greenwashing if you do not set goals and measure your impact.
Choose the issues you want to focus on primarily, set measurable objectives with timelines, and then measure your impact. For example, carbon accounting can give you a sense of your company’s carbon footprint and how it can be reduced.
Additionally, running a materiality assessment or completing ESG data tracking using popular standards like the TCFD reporting* can help you understand where you are with your sustainability targets. Doing this will help you understand your impact and how you can make improvements.
Without numbers or measurements, how can you know where you need to make changes?
Once you have defined your goals and measured your impact, communicate this in an impact report so your audience understands where you are on your journey, too.
According to Forbes, 88 per cent of customers will be more loyal to a business that supports environmental or social issues. They are choosing to support companies with a reputation for sustainability.
Addressing climate change will not only help you reduce your impact to protect the planet but also increase sales, win customers, and improve your brand image and reputation.
The best way to start your journey is to educate yourself and continue to learn about the latest updates. There are several courses available that could help you improve your understanding and implement practical steps that lead to building your brand.
*TCFD reporting - Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures