We seem to love our “top 10” [etc.] lists; these are typically eye-catching headlines for published news and commentaries about certain subjects. (As in: the 10 things you need to know about…). In Adweek, the authoritative news and insights publication for brand marketers over the past four decades, we learn about “the five truths needed to create a sustainable brand”. This is from a commentary by columnist Bruce Mau (he’s a prominent designer, co-founder of Massive Change Network and Visiting Professor at Pratt Institute).
The “mad scramble to make brands more sustainable is in full swing,” he advised his corporate marketing and advertising agency executives audience. And many companies are still getting it wrong. So what are the correct steps? He suggests five – and explains the nature of each.
The first misconception to address (and change) is that a new, splashy product is not true sustainability, which comes about through a series of incremental improvements. Think of a product that is recyclable and (then) what that may take to create, produce and market successfully (in the end, that benefits the society by addressing the challenge of too much waste still going to landfill).
Then, (another step) the lesson learned is usually that “you can’t do it alone” – society is facing an ecosystem of problems, and we all need help in addressing these. No firm can address an industry’s issues all alone. Collaboration is key; imagine when a client on the scale of a McDonald’s says it will be sustainable, what happens if every of its vendor follows suit. (Wal-Mart has been the prime corporate / retailer example of this over recent years.)
As we here at G&A tell our corporate clients and the many corporate managers we speak to each week, sustainability is not a destination; it is a journey! And the journey involves many people beyond those few taking the first steps…the crowd will grow as the journey ensues.
“Strategy” is a familiar word in the corporate world; it comes down to us from ancient Greece, deriving its meaning from the concept that this is the work of generalship – being a leader. Successful strategy comes from the top and begins with “clarity,” and understanding, author Bruce Mau tells us. Pursuit of sustainability should be a key strategy of the corporate enterprise.
Finally, today there is capacity to track the world’s energy and material flow and create metrics to enable those who manage brands to make better decisions and build “reasonable, actionable sustainability strategies”. The impact that brands and brand marketers make can be better measured and managed.
Giving us – marketers and consumers and a range of stakeholders – a better way to track our progress (or lack thereof) to determine the impacts we are making on our planet and society.
There’s a small treasure of insights in author Mau’s Adweek commentary – our Top Story for you this week.
Please let us know how we’re doing with our selection of news, research and commentary that we present in our Highlights!
This is just the introduction of G&A's Sustainability Highlights newsletter this week. Click here to view full issue.
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