Sustainability in Branding – leading the change

Only 32% of Singaporean digital consumers are willing to spend 5% more for a sustainable product or service. A separate study by the Singapore Environment Council (SEC) revealed that while 95 per cent of consumers in Singapore are inclined to choose products with sustainable packaging, more than one in two will avoid doing so if it costs more.

Coupled with inflation and a poor global economic outlook, the GST hike in Singapore could give this disconnect between ideal and reality another nudge. How can brands make sustainability accessible to the masses?

The power of branding, the power of values

Potential: Profit through purpose.

We tend to equate branding to marketing and sales. However, that’s not the case. Branding permeates through every function of a company. Beyond its products and services, a truly sustainable brand incorporates sustainability into all aspects of its operations and culture. This includes its business partners, the environmental and social impact of its activities as well as talent management. Most importantly, the hallmark of a sustainable brand is the transparency of its efforts and accountability for its actions.

As a first step, examine the company’s processes and culture. Single out the values that define your brand. This process is what we term a “Brand Audit”, a tedious but necessary step to building the foundation for a purposeful brand. At the same time, it lays the groundwork for the brand’s playbook – for sieving opportunities and managing threats.

Visibility: What is your social impact narrative?

It takes more than an eco-friendly green sticker and/or a logo redesign to be a sustainable brand. “Branding is how others talk about your brand when you’re not in the room.” Brands simulate a lifestyle that consumers identify with and the era of buying prestige has passed. Modern consumers subscribe to values. Hence, ease them into this transition into sustainability with bite-sized information.

It’s about the embodiment of these values in the brand, identifying the purpose and from there, developing a narrative that aligns with consumer values. Chances are your brand is already engaging in ESG efforts and the challenge lies in identifying its place in the bigger picture.

Energy service provider, Senoko Energy launched #TakeCharge and #CycleForChange to trigger chain reactions islandwide, engaging business and consumers to take charge of everyday actions.

Dominos Pizza Electric Vehicle (EV) Fleet

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Domino’s Pizza invests in electric vehicle fleet to overcome manpower shortage and reduce carbon footprint.

Accessibility: Consumers fear what they do not understand.

It is important for them to understand what they are really consuming. Undoubtedly, consumers are still largely price-sensitive at the moment. However, sustainability will not stay in the backseat for long. Brands should take on the role of a mediator to close this gap between purchase intention and behaviour, and it begins by providing authentic information. Apart from the mandatories of pledging and showcasing how your ESG efforts are making positive impacts on the environment and local communities around the world, go deeper.

Break the big word “sustainability” into tangible actions. Engage the masses effectively with campaigns. Centre them around your brand values and allow the public to introduce changes to their daily consumption patterns. It’s about empowering consumers and in the process, increasing brand desirability.

Form partnerships and alliances, even within the industry. Collaboration is another key aspect of sustainability in branding. Brands can work with other companies, governments, and non-profit organisations to collectively drive sustainability efforts. This can help to amplify the impact of individual efforts and accelerate the shift.

Untitled design-4

Source: The Straits Times

As part of the national effort to help people keep unhealthy diets in check,
drink manufacturers in Singapore rolled out the Nutri-Grade label ahead of the deadline.

While the end goal is conversion, building a long-term relationship always starts with a conversation.

It’s not just your consumers. It’s also about talent management.

Thinking that only manufacturers are responsible is a common fallacy. Sustainability and by extension, Environmental Social Governance (ESG), is a roadmap and talent management has a key role in this. In fact, ESG efforts can help in talent retention in several ways:

Attracting top talent: Companies with strong ESG practices may be more attractive to new talents, especially the Millennials and Gen Zs, who prioritise sustainability and are looking to work for an organisation that shares their values.

Employee engagement: Employees who are actively involved in ESG efforts may feel more connected to and invested in their company, which can lead to increased job satisfaction and loyalty.

Positive work culture: Companies with strong ESG practices may have a more positive work culture, which can lead to higher levels of employee retention.

Reputation: Companies with a reputation for strong ESG practices may be able to attract and retain top talent by positioning themselves as an employer of choice.

Overall, the role of talent management in sustainability is crucial, as it helps ensure that an organization has the human resources it needs to effectively pursue its sustainability goals. By prioritising sustainability in talent management practices, companies can not only improve their environmental and social impact but also drive business value and improve their reputation.

Positioning for long-term success

Every industry, every company and every individual matters. Sustainability is not a luxury, but a necessity for the survival of our planet and population. By embracing sustainability, brands can differentiate themselves in a crowded market, improve their reputation and customer loyalty, and capture a larger share of the market as consumers become more aware of the environmental and social impacts of the products they buy. Sustainability is a continuous process and brands that prioritise it will be better positioned for success in the future.

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