ILLUMINATION
Published in

ILLUMINATION

A Definitive Guide to

Creating a Positive Brand Image with Sustainability

Seven Milestones Every Sustainable Brand Must Conquer

Sustainable marketing is an new and improved way of conducting business in 2021. Every business owner knows that sustainability is important to the world, but few realize the value it holds as a development tool for their business.

“Sustainability, if properly implemented, cannot only be free, it can be profitable,”

Doug and Polly White

REMEMBER…

Proper sustainability streamlines business, wins over customers, and decreases the impact business has on the world.

AND

Today, entire brands built on sustainable marketing plans.

So what is a sustainable marketing plan. The first step to this is to look at this awesome article that answers the question, “How can sustainability marketing jumpstart a business?”

Diving Deeper into Sustainability Marketing

Sustainability marketing is learning what actions a sustainable business takes to influence customers propensity to buy their product/service. In short, sustainable businesses that show their customer how they are sustainable enhance relationships. By creating a brand image with sustainability, the business is partly functioning as a non-profit organization. Naturally, people have an altruistic side to them and love to give. Allowing customers to express this personality trait deepen relationships.

So, how does a business deepen their relationship with their customers? Well, the first step is integrating sustainability into marketing campaigns. A common marketing cliché is, “the key to a successful marketing is by shouting the brand and idea from the rooftops”. The same idea applies to improving a brand image with sustainability. The smallest sustainability actions pique the interest of customers. Sustainability is on the hearts of everybody and one of society’s most pressing issue. Business owners must be transparent. Transparency means publishing vlogs, blogs, graphics, social media posts, etc. to grow the brand. Content should have a purpose, give examples and display data to show off sustainability. As a business completes the milestones in this article, it should share the progress with their customers!

The first step is obvious, but is important to mention that businesses must…

1. ) Operate Paperless!

Going paperless in today’s world is easily accomplishable. Paperless businesses are efficient and thrifty. Some of the most successful businesses today operate paperless. It is the first milestone since so many companies offer low-cost solutions. Paper management systems are slow and expensive, while paperless systems streamline operations!

  • Stop misplacing important paperwork and keep everything in a secure cloud storage space.
  • Decrease time confirming sales and deals with e-signatures and payments.

Paperless Document Retention

Data is at the core of all businesses nowadays. Determining where to store customer data is important. A business has an obligation to keep private customer information safe. To do this companies should rely on cloud services that use zero-knowledge data encryption. This simple process is important to keep data safe from cybercriminals, or silicone valley corporations selling data.

Through this level of encryption, only the business owner has access to data. The third-party cloud service provider has no access to the encryption key. Without this key the cloud service provider cannot access data by any means. Business owners access their account and data with a confidential password.

End-to-End Data Encryption Service Providers

After eliminating unnecessary paper, a business must…

2. ) Take Advantage of Renewable Energy Trends

A sustainable marketing plan must communicate the sustainable actions of the business to the consumers. The utilization of renewable energy is essential to running a sustainable business. Renewable energy is a powerful marketing tool. Businesses should partially power their operations through green-energy. A business that utilizes one solar panel to heat water will add value to their brand image. To do this a business must integrate renewable energy trends in their marketing plan. Here are two fresh ideas to influence customers with renewable energy.

  • Renewable Energy Discounts: As a retail or service company, investing in renewable energy will lead to high-performing product/service promotional opportunities. Business that implement renewable energy will find a decrease in utility costs. Renewable energy discounts are possible due to the cost savings from in-house energy production. Businesses should reduce the product/service price according to the savings from the renewable energy systems. Discounts will pass the savings to customers. A business should use marketing campaigns and advertisements on their website, social media, blogs, etc. to promote the reasoning for the discounts. These discounts will drive sales, and more importantly improve brand image.
  • Renewable Energy Labeling: This is a marketing opportunity for businesses producing renewable energy, no matter the amount. Renewable energy labels on product packaging, social media, and the company website will help build a sustainable brand image. The label could state, “Manufacturing/Service Powered with Eco-Electricity.” Customers who see this label will equate the product/service with the sustainable business. Sales will increase as customers continue to see these positive affirmations about sustainability.

Renewable energy is on the hearts of everyone today, but to maintain a sustainable workforce a business must…

3. ) Automate Employee Training

Employee training is something that can be much more efficient with the technology that businesses use. Automating employee training will help business be sustainable. Sustainable businesses implement technology to train employees, which cuts down on unnecessary training events. These training events are inefficient, compared to taking advantage of a learning management system (LMS).

An LMS allows employees to learn how to do their job on their own time. An LMS allows managers to provide new employees with flexible training videos, assignments and provide feedback with an all-in-one software.

Automating training decreases non-committed employees. This is no doubt sustainable since it decreases waste on trainees who aren’t bought into the company vision.

An important aspect of training automation is that it allows the business to provide new and veteran employees with high-quality sustainability training. As the business rolls out new sustainability policies it should provide employees training on how it impacts their job description. To quickly present this information to the business, it should use an automated training system. This is an efficient way to educate employees about sustainability.

Businesses are at the forefront against fight against the environmental, social and governance issues that our world faces. Businesses must educate its employees and the people of the world how to live sustainably. Sustainability training should be a common practice by all businesses no matter the size. A simple way of accomplishing this task is to run automated learning tasks that each employee must complete. By running these training courses on a consistent basis, a business will change the values of their organization. One person can initiate a breakthrough that a business needs to find success with sustainability. Expedite the process of attaining sustainability with an automated learning system.

Efficient and automated employee training provides ongoing sustainability education and cuts down the time required to train a new employee. The next task to reshaping business is by developing a culture of sustainability with…

4. ) Supply Chain Analysis

Incorporating a supply chain strategy is crucial for building a sustainable business. A successful supply chain strategy will be the bridge between a competitive strategy and developing a sustainable supply chain. Supply chain managers or business owners must balance supply and demand, while staying inline with sustainability goals. The best practices for a sustainable supply chain are specific to the time and situation of operating business.

Business factors like competitor products, customers, regulation, suppliers, and NGO/Investors determine a supply chain strategy.

A supply chain strategy consists of partners, structure, process and system.

  • Partners: Suppliers who work directly with a business for the provision of material.
  • Structure: Organization of distribution depending on order quantity and timing.
  • Process: How the product from location A will arrive at location B in regards to costs, safety, speed, and flexibility.
  • System: The group of individuals orchestrating the entire supply chain process.

The energy and resource consumption, carbon emissions, waste and sewage are all externalities that rely upon the supply chain strategy. In fact, the majority of the business externalities trace back to the supply chain strategy. For businesses looking to develop sustainability they MUST investigate their supply chain strategy.

Tangible Actions for Supply Chain Sustainability

  • A Top-Down Approach: This type of approach to sustainable supply chain management will invoke a reciprocal response from the organization. Sustainability is an issue that the highest level of management must face. To tackle this issue the business must develop a vision for sustainability to integrate it within their core values and policies. Then, the business should use KPI systems to set specific goals for the supply chain managers to exceed the company’s vision.
  • Build a Sustainability Culture: A company culture that emphasizes the need for sustainability is necessary for success. Business values attract and push away employees. Long term success will depend on the employees that run the supply chain. Employees who support sustainability will find solutions for the supply chain because of their values. To make sure employees support sustainability, a business must designate it as a core value, especially during the hiring process.
  • The Supply Chain Sustainability Team: Implementing a sustainable supply chain is daunting since it will include challenges that affect every part of business. The key to solving these issues is to designate an independent, centralized, and versatile team. This team should report to management, consolidates issues, provide advice, collect & disseminate educational material, operate training, handle communication with partners, and conduct research & development. A high-performance team will implement long-lasting sustainable supply chain solutions.
  • Product Development Transparency: Small product changes have a huge effect on a sustainable supply chain. For example, a change in product material can throw off the efficiency of logistics. This is why it is crucial to involve a supply chain manager during product development. These managers are the lifeline to the manufacturing process, so they should be in the loop!
  • Research Industry Success and Failure: Cross referencing a business supply chain with the activity of others in the industry provide valuable education. Sustainable companies love to talk about their successes and failures with sustainability. By utilizing this information a businesses will learn how to develop a sustainable supply chain.

The supply chain is at the core of businesses today. Responsible business owners should recognize the importance of building a sustainable supply chain. The next milestone for brick and mortar businesses is to develop a deeper understanding of their energy consumption. A fantastic way to do this is to…

5. ) Invest in a Building Energy Audit

The main consumption of energy is through the place of business. Many business owners mark their building overhead expenses as a fixed cost. Little do they know that they can drastically reduce this “fixed cost” through a building energy audit. A building energy audit is a step by step procedure that a business or third-party arranges. This checklist allows the company to complete a thorough unbiased analysis of the energy consumption of the building. An audit will provide a business immediate and actionable feedback to decrease energy consumption within their building. Typically, these audits are completed when transferring a business to a new building. Every business should complete energy consumption audits. These audits:

  • Lower energy costs
  • Provide a deeper understanding of how the business utilizes their energy
  • Display a positive brand image through promotions
  • Lower the environmental impact of the business

A business can orchestrate a building energy audit with or without the help of a third-party energy-rating service provider. The business should be sure to take advantage of the versatility and simplicity of a building energy audit checklist. A checklist allows the group organizing the audit to efficiently and thoroughly analyze every avenue of building energy consumption. Here is a great energy audit checklist and procedure recommended by an accredited auditor.

The recommended procedure requires special knowledge and tool that not every business owner has. This is why there exists accreditation for energy service companies (ESCO). These companies specialize in providing high level energy consumption audits, and collaborate with businesses to find solutions to reduce energy consumption. By offering a stable rate, they are a better option than an energy provider that fluctuates with the market price of the fuel. ESCO offer lower priced plans for small businesses who use small amounts of energy. The best part of choosing a high-quality ESCO is the option to choose renewable energy plans. These plans are competitive to carbon-based energy supplier prices. Selecting a renewable energy plan through a ESCO is a great way to improve brand image and business sustainability. Check out this document that lists all US Department of Energy qualified energy service companies!

However a business is powered, if it is sustainable it should invest in…

6. ) Carbon Offset Credits as a Low-Cost Marketing Tool

To continue to support sustainable marketing efforts, a business should invest in carbon-offset credits. Carbon offset credits are extremely helpful for sustainability marketing. As a marketing tool, businesses gather carbon offset credits. By contributing the profits from the business in this manner, the customers will feel obliged to purchase the product/service. Carbon offset providers provide sustainability solutions for all types of businesses. These providers initiate projects that neutralize carbon emissions across the globe. Businesses that purchase these carbon offset credits provide funding for these projects. These businesses should broadcast to their customers the information about the projects it supports. Carbon offset credits differ in cost depending on the project supporting the credit. The per credits price ranges anywhere from 1 to 20 USD. As a low-cost solution for businesses, carbon credits will improve a business’s brand image.

High Quality Carbon Offset Credit Providers

Relationships are important to sustainability. After building a relationship with a carbon offset credit provider, the business should…

7. ) Build a Mutually Beneficial Relationship with a Non-Profit Organization

By giving back to non-profit organizations, businesses add to their sustainability resume. A business that gives is a business that will receive support from their customers. It is simple to market the donations that the business provides through marketing campaigns. Social media is a great way to share all the support the business provides to non-profit organizations. By giving to non-profit organizations, a business builds a mutually beneficial relationship with the non-profit, and customers. As the customers shop at the business they receive great service, and support fantastic non-profit organizations.

One Tree Planted: This group is a simple way to integrate donations to a marketing plan. For every dollar that a business gives to this non-profit organization, they will plant one tree. This is a simple way for a business to make a big change in the world. Set up a business to support reforestation by donating with every item sold or a percentage of revenue every month. The non-profit integrates their environmental actions with a business to meet their sustainability goals.

1% For The Planet: A fantastic non-profit organization that sustainable businesses fund! This group is a successful advocate for the environment. The non-profit educates the world about the challenges our planet faces. As well-rounded group for businesses to support, 1% For The Planet invests in climate, food, land, wildlife, water, and pollution solutions for the world.

Conservation International: A business working with this group will find sustainability solutions that make a lasting change in business strategy. By partnering with this non-profit a business will be committing to a sustainable transformation. The three avenues this non-profit creates change is through sustainable product sourcing (supply chain), community activism and preservation of natural areas. Through this non-profit, businesses will secure ecosystems, generate jobs, benefit communities and channel funding to sustainability organizations.

Take The First Step Towards A Sustainable Future!

A small change in the way a business operates has an enormous affect on the world. If every business took action with one milestone listed above the world would be a better place. Everyone of us has an obligation to hold businesses accountable for their sustainability efforts, and anyone can be an advocate for a milestone listed above. What milestone will you be an advocate for? Will you be a supply chain guru or a energy consumption master? It takes one person to start a revolution, so what are you waiting for? Be a changemaker!

To whom might find this article interesting:

Dr Mehmet Yildiz

Audrey Malone

Glen Hendrix

Rui Yi Gan 颜睿易

Julia E Hubbel

Thought Catalog

Michelle Loucadoux, MBA

Claire Stapley

Stephen Muskett, M.S.Ed

Ali Mese

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
foxflo Sustainability Partners

foxflo Sustainability Partners

You have a sustainable business to run. We want to help. Let’s find lasting solutions. www.foxflo.org #business #education #design #tech #startup #life