Sustainability, CSR, ecological entrepreneuring… Isn’t sustainability just another vague umbrella term for all the false promises we make? Isn’t it just a superficial layer of green make-up that we smear all over our communication?
No, and no. Because that, my friend, would be greenwashing. A practice you want to keep far, far away from.
So how do we communicate more credibly about sustainability? And does it really need to be carefully thought through? Find out below!
Spoiler: it’s kind of like a beauty pageant.
The benefits of strategic communication on sustainability
You’re probably wondering “Do I need a strategy for that?”. Well, you do want to stay relevant for your customers, right? And preferably for the long term.
Show the world how you treat our environment ethically and – more importantly – what you are doing to sustainably improve your current activities. That’s how you stand out in a greenwashed beauty pageant.
The most important benefits:
- Stand out from the crowd. Every organization says that it is 100% focused on a sustainable future. The one you can’t take your eyes off? A brand that breaks with green clichés and comes forward with tangible and authentic values on social and ecological topics. That’s why customers choose you
- Attract talent. Let’s face it: soon, more than 70% of the working population will be millennials. This generation needs more than swapping out plastic bags for paper. What are they looking for? Open and honest communication on the efforts of the company they work for. They need to feel that they are making a difference in the world.
- Empower your market position. Stakeholders look for companies that ensure a long-term return. And the future is sustainable, we all know that by now. Investors easily burst the green bubble that greenwashers leave behind.
Greenwashing, there’s a smell to it
However, communicating about sustainability includes several risks. Some companies pretend to be more sustainable than they really are. They make false or vague claims and cover their business behind a green mask. That’s called greenwashing. But what happens when the masks come off? You’ll be left with more than just red cheeks. We’re talking about:
- Lawsuits. New laws are constantly introduced. Companies are held more responsible than ever for having a sustainable business approach. About a year ago, an Italian oil company got slapped with a 5 million euro fine for greenwashing their practices.
- Reputation damage. Not only your image towards investors but also your social image will plunge. This might cause an even bigger dent than direct financial losses. Today’s customers take this very seriously. Or did you think sustainability was still just for tree-huggers?
- Employee turnover. When your company is exposed, your internal stakeholders will also flee the crime scene. A costly affair for those who want to attract and retain talent these days.
Stay away from hot air and green make-up. Instead, blow your audience away with your natural beauty.
How to do this? We’ve got an answer to that as well. Steer clear from greenwashing with these 5 strategic tips on sustainability communication.
Wash off the green behind your ears (together with BBC)
We have to admit: organisations are vulnerable when it comes to sustainability. But that’s what makes it so important to have a thought out communication strategy – enter BBC.
The power of sustainability in B2B lies in the unique expertise and endless innovations companies bring to the table. With BBC – you build your story around those qualities.
- What ecological or social challenges do your customers face?
- What sustainable innovations differentiate you from your competitors?
- How do you make sustainability part of your DNA?
Looks a lot like a traditional strategic exercise, doesn’t it? Correct! That’s the whole point. Every sustainability story starts at the core of your brand strategy.