Linking Sustainability and Your Brand

For this issue of the Marketing Minute, we interview our strategic partner Frances Schlosstein, president of the TBLS Group.

Frances, tell us a little about The TBLS Group, your sustainability practice:

Studies show that sustainable enterprises outperform peer organizations by as much as 15%.* The TBLS Group is a team of marketing professionals and sustainability experts. Our mission is to accelerate the “greening” of business and organizations as a triple bottom line business practice. We assert that what is is good for the planet is also good business practice.
  • As sustainability experts we translate complex metrics and regulatory demands into manageable, practical bottom line strategies.
  • As marketers we create and implement integrated communication and branding strategies designed to increase sales and competitively position our clients.

Learn more about our healthcare branding services ››

How does a sustainability program enhance an organization’s brand?

A company that works proactively and strategically to become more sustainable has the opportunity to engage many different stakeholders with positive messages. For example, energy reduction saves money and reduces a company’s carbon footprint. Greening of the supply chain means that natural resources used for making products are being judiciously used with measurable improvement in environmental impact. Meeting or even exceeding EPA and SEC regulations and using certified eco-friendly products are all part of a the sustainability story.
All these initiatives offer opportunities for companies to demonstrate good citizenship on local and global levels. The challenge is communicating about these initiatives in a way that enhances brand and builds stakeholder trust.

Let’s say my organization has a sustainability program in place. What are 3 actions I can take right away to integrate it with my brand?

  • Our first recommendation is to look at your sustainability initiatives from a strategic perspective. Are the sustainability initiatives long term? Are they system-wide or just in one area? Does your company have a sustainability agenda and baseline metrics from which to communicate future progress? What are the issues concerns of your different stakeholders — customers, employees, community, investors?
  • Secondly, analyze how your sustainability initiatives relate to your brand. Find the points where your brand and sustainability connect. Select the channels for your sustainability messaging. It could be through PR initiatives, packaging, partnering or simple reporting.
  • Thirdly, test your messages against greenwashing criteria (superficial, non-contextualized “green messages” can do a lot of damage and generate stakeholder distrust.)
If your sustainability program is substantial and genuine it can provide a competitive edge and help strengthen brand and positioning. If not, identify the sustainability initiatives that will bring the highest return for the company and brand.

If you need assistance with these steps, the TBLS Group offers the assessment and metrics to develop your baseline. We offer creative and tactical support so that your sustainability reporting will have high impact and resounds positively with your different stakeholders.

 *Study conducted by A. T. Kearney, 2008



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