Whole Brand Thinking™ on Sustainability.

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What trends, themes, surprises, or disruptions have you seen around Sustainability in the last 12 months?

People: Consumers have unprecedented access to information about how a brand treats people across their entire value chain, inside and outside their organization. As investigative news uncovers human rights, migrant, child, and other labor violations, all eyes are now turned inward with deeper scrutiny on how companies operate and with whom they partner. 

Planet: Pending government regulations, stakeholder pressure, and a desire to be on the right side of history are spurring many brands to dig deeper into solutions addressing their environmental impact. We’re seeing an uptick in companies using carbon accounting tools to make better decisions concerning their carbon strategy, investor interest in biodiversity, and an increased interest in circularity —  processes that reduce waste, increase recyclability, and/or use more sustainable and regenerative materials. 

Communities: As the ‘S’ in ESG, societal responsibility has evolved from corporate giving to creating shared value integrated into your core business. As trust in government interventions wanes, consumers today have higher expectations for brands to fill societal and community gaps where government and NGOs fall short. 

What does it mean for aspiring whole brands?

Whole brands deeply understand their impact on the people, planet, and communities they serve. Answering a driving demand for transparency and accountability, whole brands also identify the material issues facing their brand and develop a unifying strategy to address risks and opportunities proactively. 

Advice for whole brand thinkers: 

  • Take action: assess your risks and review policies and codes of conduct to ensure they align and are activated against your brand values. Change only happens when it’s integrated end to end.

  • Be honest and transparent about shortcomings. Develop a strategy to address any issues and follow up to ensure compliance. 

  • Collaborate with suppliers, vendors, NGOs, and other partners to establish standards and hold all parties accountable.

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