Perspectives on greener product development and manufacturing from Sustainable Minds, our partners, customers and contributors.

Gathering your sustainability stories to build an authentic greener brand

By Sandy Skees on January 16, 2009

 Both early stage and legacy companies share common ground when developing a sustainable brand promise. In order to communicate authentically to key stakeholders, start by identifying the ‘head and heart’ story that inspires every product design, or in a larger sense, inspires each company’s formation. These intertwined rationales will build a ‘goodness narrative’ that is the foundation of a sustainable brand.

Companies are starting to give themselves permission to tell a multi-faceted story that goes beyond market dominance, product creation and increasing profits. Not that these aren’t important, they are. But they are not the only story. It is important to capture and communicate the anecdotes of how individuals inside companies are creating solutions that incorporate social and environmental impacts of products or companies.

1. Make an honest assessment of where you are
As you gather your sustainability stories, take stock of where you really are and include an honest measure of what is truly sustainable inside your operation in an accessible and clear way. Be up front about the challenges and your team’s assessment of how you will address them.

2. Take note – and make notes – at every stage of the process
The initial product specification conversations – what and how things are made – must be captured and leveraged as key to the true story of good companies. Take great notes that can be used later as proof points and background for describing how and why the product was designed and the company was created.

3. Think inside the box
We know that companies are filled with good people making smart decisions that benefit stakeholders other than investors. Share decisions, for example, about honoring local communities, or smarter packaging that reduces waste, or product design with end-of-life strategy.. What is lacking today is the process and language for tracking and talking about these other dimensions.

Founding stories and company lore are other areas that can be mined for the rich texture inside a good brand. You have the business story – the what, and how. Find the why, the human story, and link that to actions – these are the sustainability stories that can communicate an authentic brand.