Sustainability Done Right

What does sustainability mean?

We asked Americans that question in our recently released Green Living Pulse study, and the most popular answer was, “I don’t know.” We also heard “long-lasting” and “durable,” but overall, sustainability was greatly misunderstood. Many of the companies and brands we talk with haven’t established a clear definition of what sustainability means to them, either. Fortunately, that’s exactly what we do: help our clients define and leverage their sustainability stories to help them gain a market advantage.

One of our clients, Grainger, is a good example. They asked us to help them crystallize their sustainability story and engage their employees in it this Earth Day. Grainger is the world’s leading industrial supplies provider, and their core value is to help their customers get their jobs done. We looked at how they accomplish that and found the things that make them successful are also the things that make them sustainable. From top to bottom, Grainger has implemented practices that reduce waste and save energy. They aren’t just getting the job done; they’re getting it done the right way. The only problem? Their employees don’t really know much about those practices – or how those practices make Grainger a sustainable company.

So we defined Grainger’s sustainability story through the lens of their brand story (which is how we recommend every brand go at this exercise). Then we designed an internally-facing website to teach Grainger’s employees about what the company is doing right and what employees can do to help. The site includes a quiz, a contest, tips and videos, as well as access to a social network where Grainger employees can interact with each other and exchange ideas.

To launch the website internally, we created a poster campaign that highlights Grainger’s pride in what they do and ties it to their sustainability story. Each poster targets a different group of employees and speaks to them directly about how they could do their jobs more sustainably.

In the end, Grainger wants their employees to jump on board and take ownership of the sustainability efforts. That way, the company can continue to grow and improve – the right way. You can check out the work by clicking here, and while you’re looking over it, ask yourself, “What does sustainability mean to me and my company?  And how can I help tell the story in a way that aligns with our brand?”

About the Author

Brian Kelley

Brian is a former contributor to Shelton Insights.

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