Business is at the essence of global influence, it is so deeply ingrained in society that they have this unprecedented power to influence how we think, feel and act. Some of the worlds largest brands are even going as far as influencing government policies. What does this tell you? I believe businesses are the cornerstone of sustainable development and longevity of planet earth, with the support from governments, consumers, NGOs and other groups.
With this idea in mind, I built Canco to deliver on 4 crucial elements that any business should engage with in order to create a more prosperous world. Strategies, Maps, Symbols & Communications. We used Theory for Change to structure our approach.
In order to overcome barriers, we must come together. Businesses need to understand their commitment, effectively communicate and play their role in society. Helping consumers understand why it is worth their time and why they should care about sustainability. There is a clear desire to adopt sustainable behaviours, so brands need to consider how they deliver it—Accessibility, convenience, affordability and ease of repeated use. Brands can make it easier for consumers to regenerate our behaviours, and make them habits.
When you consider that sustainability is a balancing act between three pillars: Environment, Social and Economic, it’s clear that business can drive higher profit while not damaging society or the environment. A new sustainable economy which is centred on the SDGs could be worth $12 trillion. It’s a win on many fronts for brands!
This idea of a sustainable economy comes to light as research shows as values-driven consumers demand options that don’t harm the planet and its people (even if they don’t always live up to their own good intentions). 89% care personally about protecting our planet and they feel responsible! Behaviours which undeniably were niche are now shifting towards the mainstream, with the rise of the vegan lifestyle and a sense of unease around plastic pollution. What’s more important to note, is 89% think brands should do more to educate consumers on how sustainable their products are. 92% also say that sustainable practices should now be standard business practice, and that goes for the entire supply chain.
So if there is such a high demand for brands to educate and inform and make sustainability a standard business agenda, why are we taking so long to adopt these agendas? Because it is clear this isn’t a trend. It’s serious and if brands and companies are not investing in sustainability, they are going to fall behind the times and become irrelevant very quickly.
What can businesses do?
1. What are your focus areas?
Every business is different, all solving very different problems from each other. This also means your sustainability efforts will be in different places. You need to identify what and where these areas are, a great way to identify key issues with your organisation is by doing a Materiality Analysis.
2. Consider accessibility, convenience and affordability
You must consider how you deliver on accessibility, convenience and affordability. Convenience is absolutely key if it’s not convenient it is very difficult to get people to do something.
You must communicate your sustainability efforts, consumer wants to be informed and educated on what efforts you’re making. People are beginning to look beyond materials, people want to know what’s going on behind them. 89% say they want brands to do more to educate them on how sustainable their products are.
Setting transparent and well-known goals and measurements for your sustainability initiatives helps tie all the above together. By outlining the clear goals that the entire company wants to meet, every stakeholder feels engaged and commits to making it a reality. The saying goes – “You can’t manage what you don’t measure”.
The sustainable business continues to rise, it is beginning to evolve into more than just another trend, it’s becoming the norm. So it is crucial that we keep this momentum and further encourage more businesses to make changes for the benefit of everyone and everything.
I am a partner and brand strategist at Canco where we exist to enable everyone to overcome barrier by coming together. We create and amplify brands that propel society towards a better tomorrow.