Shaping sustainable brands

As populations grow and resource availability shrinks,  sustainability is a rising concern. Smarter companies are starting to build a new generation of sustainable brands that can shape and own a sustainable future. But there’s still much to learn on how best to do this.

Who are the winners and losers? According to the Guardian’s article on The Planets Brand Index, which rates brands according to their scale, influence and ability to think sustainably – the big guns sit at the top (Google, Microsoft, Coca Cola). On first blush, these companies could raise the odd controversial eyebrow in the sustainability stakes.  But on the plus side, scale and influence says ‘listen to me’, which is how big brands can become transformation agents to push a sustainability agenda that’s not only good for the planet, it’s actually good for business.

This great article in Futurra sums that all up very nicely: From Chipotle naturally raising pork to Zappos’ relocation to Las Vegas – its about considering what your core values demand as an organisation and thinking about the practical steps that you can take to be more sustainable whilst sticking to your core brand purpose. It’s about analysing what you can do from a business and brand perspective, without ignorance.  And the momentum is growing…

The Sustainable Brands Conference  this year aims to shed more light into the future role and relevance of sustainability in business. The conference brings together brand strategists, innovation specialists, sustainability teams and thought leaders to help to uncover how sustainable innovation can drive brand and business growth.

So what exactly makes for an objectively sustainable brand?

Is it about sticking to core values and promises but delivering in a new way? Is it about wacky and wild innovation that cuts through the clutter of supply chains and processes to reduce environmental impact? Is it just about better business? (ignoring the overused, overinterpreted word that is ‘sustainability’ altogether) Is it about having a vision to promote global wellbeing? It’s probably a little bit of everything.

I like the word impact though. It’s pretty crucial – from lowering environmental impact to increasing societal impact is key. And if your brand is influential and impactful as an organisation simply in its values and scale, it has greater potential for bigger sustainability gains. Which I think is what the Planets Brand Index is really driving.