Sustainable Brands – A Newbie’s Thoughts

Sustainable Brands – A Newbie’s Thoughts

Shelton Group has been a part of Sustainable Brands for the last four years now, but it was my first time to attend with the team. It’s easy to see what all of the hubbub’s about: amazing people, brands and interaction delivering a waterfall of ideas that everyone can personally benefit from. It’s inspiring to see so many brands (big and small), that are energized in their willingness to embrace sustainability as more than just another corporate division.

It’s also been amazing to meet and greet so many of the dedicated people who battle on the front lines of sustainability in their respective corporations. Through all of our discussions about successes, failures and roadblocks with these sustainability warriors, a common theme has popped up:

Sustainability must have a strong start from the inside.

Corporate buy-in and understanding needs to exist well below the C-suite before a sustainability position can take hold. Universal understanding also has to be built and nurtured from the middle down for a sustainability positioning to truly become embedded into the corporate culture.

Over the last year we’ve been working with a few of our clients to develop this type of top-to-bottom sustainability buy-in, fully exposing ourselves to the problems that can squelch internal success. It’s been fascinating to uncover similar problems this week from many different types of businesses as they attempt to build engagement with sustainability within their four walls.

One of the things we’ve learned along the way is that communication is the key. That may seem obvious, but it’s where we see organizations struggling — both with internal language and internal launch.

Your internal language around sustainability must be logical, simple to understand and easy to repeat. Without logic (as in, it makes business sense)  you lose your sales team. Without simplicity you lose employees that aren’t embedded in sustainable practices on a daily basis. And if your positioning isn’t easy to repeat by everyone, don’t bother; no one will use the message anyway.

Your internal launch must stir excitement and involvement. The launch is where you can get everyone walking down the same road. It’s also your best opportunity to let everyone know they are important and that their involvement is the key to success. (Note: A trickle of ideas will not do this.)

If you want your external message to resonate and work for you, then you have to launch your sustainability positioning from the inside out.

About the Author

Larry Washington

Larry Washington is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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