Is sustainability becoming the mandatory brand value?

Title image showing - Is sustainability becoming the mandatory brand value?

Global, Jul 14, 2023

Author: Catriona Walkerden, Global VP of Marketing

It’s becoming impossible to scroll through LinkedIn or attend a corporate event in 2023 without hearing about sustainability, and not before time, with relative inaction from Governments in the face of an ever-worsening climate situation. It’s been a long time coming. Your employees and customers are now looking to you (and the brands you stand behind) to do the right thing.

Sustainability has become the unwritten mandatory brand value, and marketing has a big role to play in ensuring we shape and share our organisations story and efforts in reducing carbon emissions.

The stakes are high, and the chips can fall one of two ways as we’ve seen in media over the past couple of years. On one hand, you have organisations who work with credible organisations like SBTI and Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) (among others) to set and work towards meaningful targets. On the other hand, you have organisations that get thrown to the wolves for greenwashing and overstating carbon claims.

Marketers have been known for never letting the truth get in the way of a good story but what’s coming is a tsunami of sustainability reckoning that can make or break a brand, and you want to be on higher ground when it does.

If you get it right, there are several benefits around setting a net zero target and making inroads to working towards it which include: 

  • enhanced credibility and brand reputation
  • the ability to drive innovation and create a competitive advantage
  • a head start before likely future regulation

So how can marketing help drive the right behaviour in their organisations?

Be credible and transparent in your commitments and how you communicate them

In the same way that no CEO wants to end up on the front page for a cyber breach, the practice of greenwashing can really kill a brand's credibility and turn customers off forever. Make sure your organisation has set achievable targets with a plan of how to get there and then work with a credible organisation such as SBTI to formally lodge those commitments.

Organisations are being pulled up regularly by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) due to bogus claims on their sustainability status, recent examples include Ryanair claiming to be the lowest emission airline, and the FIFA World Cup in Qatar World cup claimed to be the world’s first carbon neutral event. In the case of the latter, it was discovered this carbon neutrality was achieved solely through carbon offsetting, a big no-no in sustainability circles.

Tell your organisations stories

Once the commitments have been made, call out and celebrate those going the extra mile, it’s really interesting for your customers, partners, and employees, to see the real work being done towards reducing your carbon footprint. Logicalis recently shared a blog written by our CEO Bob Bailkoski while taking the train from London to Cologne for a business meeting. We used a carbon travel app called RouteZero (which we now use for all business travel) to chart the time and distance plus carbon saved by taking the train. That trip alone saved 70kg of CO2 and by implementing the app for our corporate business travel, we aim to cut our travel carbon considerably in a year, giving a huge boost to our carbon reduction targets.

Learn from other organisations in your orbit

While we want to focus on driving competitive differentiation for our own organisations, we must acknowledge that we are in this together as stakeholders in the future of our planet. We need to put competitive differences aside and learn from what each other is doing.

Over the past 12 months, Logicalis has shared a couple of videos on our carbon commitments and how we’re working towards overall reduction.

If I had to share the top 5 commitments it would be:

  1. All of our regions around the globe reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP)
  2. Committing our carbon goals to the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi)
  3. Achieving an EcoVadis sustainability rating across all regions in the Group
  4. 25% of operations powered by renewable energy (working towards 75% by 2025)
  5. Developing a digital managed service for our customers that measures carbon across our cloud, security, connectivity, and digital workplace solutions

Where should you get started?

The best place to start is establishing a task force that includes individuals from the executive level down and set about working with a reputable organisation like SBTi on your carbon commitments. Look at the various ways above you can measure, monitor, and reduce your carbon footprint. Business travel, renewable energy, recycling of e-waste, and take-back schemes are all great ways to get started.

Then start communicating and make sure your customers are aware of what you’re doing in this space. Many tender documents in the B2B space now ask for this so ensure the key points are available for customers and your sales teams.

Finally, enjoy the process, everyone is on a journey and every contribution however a small start is a stepping stone to something that will impact that planet as well as your brand.

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