Embedding sustainability into a company’s ethos not only aids the planet but also enhances customer loyalty, a key benefit of sustainability training for businesses. Curating a sustainable brand image is a great way to help the planet and build customer trust and dedication. Customers see sustainable brands as more thoughtful and caring, which is why they are more eager to support those organisations that seek to have a positive impact beyond generating revenue.
Sustainability and reputation are very much connected. Being indifferent or mismanaging your social and environmental footprint can have genuine and costly effects on the bottom line and on your brand itself. With all this in mind, the business case for acting on sustainability is apparent. Continue reading for our top tips to build a company’s reputation for sustainability.
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. Additionally, 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 we will share our top tips to build a company’s reputation for sustainability.
Get educated on sustainability
The best way to make your brand more sustainable and build a reputation for sustainability is by getting educated. Just like anything, you must understand what you plan to preach. Taking the time to educate yourself on why sustainability is important, and the various practices that can help you make your brand more green will automatically impact how your customers view the brand.
Those eco-conscious customers will appreciate that you have taken the time to learn about issues that matter to them. They will also appreciate that you know what you are talking about and are taking genuine action rather than engaging in poor practices like greenwashing. There are so many courses on the market that can help you gain a comprehensive sustainability knowledge.
There is the Diploma in Business Sustainability course we offer, which covers the entire span of the sustainability challenges faced by businesses. This includes everything from crafting and implementing a sustainability plan and an industry-leading Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy to learning the fundamentals of ESG reporting and auditing. This course is 100% online and available for self-paced learning.
We also have our Certificate in Business Sustainability course, which is a short, fast-paced course that allows you to easily grasp key sustainability concepts. It gives you a foundational understand of basic sustainability concepts.
Besides our courses, there are also other courses available that will allow you to better understand sustainability. For example, the ESG Diploma Course from the Corporate Governance Institute. Taking time to learn and educate yourself on sustainability will help you to see the bigger picture and know what is involved to become a sustainable brand.
Brand honesty and transparency
Transparency is key when it comes to building a sustainable brand. You need to respect customers by giving them honest information. Failing to share honest information or details on how exactly you are sustainable could result in greenwashing or green botching, which 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 eco-friendly processes and what exactly makes your products environmentally sound is essential. You need to be addressing your consumers’ specific concerns around sustainability.
Work to 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
Whilst it is important to focus on your internal business sustainability efforts, it is also vital to look at your supply chain. Many brands who try to become more eco-friendly forget to look at the full chain of how their products come into creation. To build a strong reputation for sustainability, you need to show you are committed.
One way to display your dedication and commitment is by looking at how you can make improvements in your supply chain. For example, 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?
Embed sustainability into your company’s mission and vision
The brands that have a strong reputation for sustainability are those that have embedded environmental action into their mission and vision. They have recognised the correlation between sustainability and their business activities and how they depend on nature. 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. This shows their commitment to the cause and acts as an initial building block to reducing its ecological impact. Sustainability inspires everything they do, and they consider it in every business decision that is made. Beyond the positive benefits for the planet, showing this commitment has helped 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 genuinely 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 percent 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 time to act on the climate crisis is now, and the tips above will help you build a strong reputation for sustainability.