In the words of David Attenborough: “Saving our planet is now a communications challenge.”
… and we’re already seeing a shift in marketing and sustainability. In the run-up to COP26, we saw some questionable brands putting the climate crisis front and centre of their marketing mix, with organisations jumping on the bandwagon to capitalise on this moment in time. And as consumers continue to put pressure on businesses to consider their impact, this will only continue. But, environmental campaigns shouldn’t be a one-off. They shouldn’t be wheeled out when the climate crisis is in the news – sustainable practices should be part of your business 365 days a year.
So as brands continue to prioritise sustainability within their marketing communications, here’s our advice on how brands can communicate in a post COP26 world to ensure genuine cut through…
COP26 marked a shift in tone to one of urgency and anger. With government action not happening quickly enough, businesses have arguably the most important role in climate action. So, by making sure urgency and action are at the heart of your communications and by setting (and communicating) ambitious targets you’ll be able to help bring about real meaningful change.
The time for making noise is over. It’s no longer good enough to be shouting about the climate crisis with no focus on what you’re doing to help create a greener world. Brands need to be focusing on what they’re doing and what they want to change and this needs to be clear within your communications. It’s also vital brands create clear, pragmatic calls to action to let consumers know how they can get involved and follow your sustainability journey.
Reframing sustainability as an opportunity
For years sustainability has been seen as a compromise – buy less, fly less, eat less meat. While this narrative is inarguably better for the planet, it fails to mention the huge opportunities that sustainable living can bring. We need to flip the narrative and show businesses and consumers that a better world can bring us huge benefits. From job creation, competitive advantage or a better standard of living, we need to get people excited about a greener world.
With 90% of climate comms going to only 20% of people (source: Purpose Folklore), brands need to use creativity to reach people outside the echo chamber. Whether it’s art, podcasts or utilising new technologies, creatively looking at ways you can communicate can help you reach subcultures and engage with new communities. An amazing example of this at COP26 was the Route One skate exhibition ‘For Cop’s Sake’, which used art to send a powerful message from the skate community to world leaders, gathered in Glasgow.
Transparency is absolutely vital for any brand that is looking to communicate its environmental messages authentically. By being open and honest about what you’re doing (and not doing), you’ll be able to ensure your messages are received in the right way. Look, there’s no perfect brand so don’t portray yourself as one. Most organisations are at different stages of their sustainability journey so it’s vital you communicate where you are, where you’re going and how you’re going to get there.
It’s no secret that at Enviral we love stories. Whether it’s a brand video or a Founder interview, personalising your brand through stories is absolutely vital. Stories connect hearts and minds and are vital in moving people into action, they help people understand other perspectives and bring the impacts home. Stories are amazing ways to reach wider communities and explain why you’re brand is prioritising sustainability in an authentic and honest way.
Keep it simple
The climate crisis is confusing enough. It’s your job as a brand to communicate complex problems and solutions in a way that your audience understands. So, remove the jargon and use simple, direct messaging.
Whether it’s accidental or deliberate, greenwash is helping accelerate climate breakdown and with consumers more clued up on greenwash than ever, this is also detrimental to your brand. With so much information and advice around there really is no excuse for brands to be inflating their green credentials. So make sure your sustainability communications are honest and transparent. Not only this, but with the Consumer Markets Authority’s ‘Green Claims Code’ coming into effect on 1st Jan 2022, brands need to be clued up more than ever.
Include all voices
With the climate crisis affecting people disproportionately across the globe, how can we authentically talk about climate justice, discuss solutions and identify the imminent impacts if we’re not including the voices and leadership from those on the front line? It’s absolutely essential that brands include voices from all communities if they’re to reach outside the echo chamber and ensure everyone is heard. Brands have a responsibility to amplify these voices and put them front and centre of the brand.
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