Businesses across industries are embracing environmental sustainability. In addition to the satisfaction of simply doing the right thing, they are realizing the many benefits of green initiatives. Investing in sustainability has been shown to drive innovation, attract and retain talent, and reduce supply risk. It also enhances public perception, if communicated well. How consumers respond to corporate sustainability Deloitte conducted research in 2020 showing that “consumers expect businesses to step up, especially when it comes to issues of climate change and the environment.” They uncovered a number of compelling statistics: 23% of consumers say they will switch to buying products from an organization that shares their values on environmental issues42% have changed consumption habits themselves because of their stance on the environment21% have encouraged others to switch to a company whose values align with their opinion on an issue Launching a sustainability program is no small feat. It requires collaboration and buy-in across a company, and it is often challenging to explain. It can involve complex science, economics, and logistics, and take a long time to show measurable results. However, investing the effort to communicate clearly and effectively to your target audiences often pays off. Our tips for sustainability communication—with an example 1. Speak in plain language Consumers receive a flood of information each day about the changing climate, earth-friendly products, and businesses making “green” claims. Often this messaging contains complex scientific jargon—or completely made-up jargon used for greenwashing. Confusing people rarely brings them around to your point of view. When you tell your sustainability story, speak in a way the audience can understand. In the video below, you will notice conversational language and a genuine tone of voice. You will need to adjust your sustainability communications based on your audience’s level of understanding of the environmental topic at hand. Remember, just because we hear a lot of terms like “carbon footprint” or “coastline hardening” in the media regularly doesn’t mean that everyone actually understands them. Primary or secondary audience research can help you understand how to meet the audience where they are. One great way to make complex subjects meaningful is through metaphors and visualization. In the video, you hear a rock climber compare the challenges of sustainability planning to scaling a boulder. 2. Inspire your audience News about the environment tends toward the negative—sometimes to the level of existential crisis. While it’s important to know the facts, however foreboding, hope and positivity tend to motivate an audience. None other than Sir David Attenborogh urges leaders to be “motivated by hope, not fear,” when it comes to the climate. Video is an excellent medium for inspiring audiences, an attention-getting platform suitable for balancing facts with emotions. The faces and voices of real people, whether your own internal team, third-party observers, or those your brand directly benefits, can connect with viewers emotionally. In addition, you can experiment with different types of visuals, from the sweeping views of landscapes and the Earth itself in the example video, to simple DIY footage, depending on your goals. 3. Share diverse voices More and more, consumers understand the significance of the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, and profits. When you tell your sustainability story, remember the “people” part. In the creation of your materials, as well as in the delivery, a wide range of demographics will make your content richer. In addition, audiences will connect more easily if they see people they relate to. You will demonstrate that you’re taking sustainability initiatives not just to benefit one group of people, but for all. In addition, use your sustainability communications to explain the “why” behind your actions, humanizing your brand and demonstrating your sense of purpose. How we used these principles to create a video for Cummins Cummins, the leading U.S. maker of diesel engines, has an ambitious strategy to decarbonize their company, their products, and their customers’ products. The company makes hydrogen fuel cells and next-generation diesel technology, which stand to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions when compared with energy sources that are currently most widely used. We partner with Cummins to communicate their leadership and innovation in sustainability. Cummins envisions a world where clean energy is available to everyone, and they want to share that vision with their customers and stakeholders. They recently launched a new initiative called Destination Zero, outlining their plans to achieve zero emissions by 2050. This four-minute video covers a lot of ground, moving from global problems to concrete solutions. In it, people of several different ethnicities, from different backgrounds, share glimpses of their own experiences—from growing up in Bangalore, India, to traveling in space. Each speaker, in his or her own way, instills hope balanced with the enormity of the task at hand. “It is going to happen, and I absolutely am confident,” says one speaker. “The ‘when’ part is where I want to make it sooner.” “With our global reach,” says another, “why can’t we help save the planet?” Importantly, the video illustrates that Cummins’ commitment to sustainability is rooted in their business strategy. That connection lends authenticity to their message. They explain specific, concrete changes the company is making and show actual people working on real products. We are proud to have been involved with this project and to work with ambitious clients like Cummins, and would love to help you tell your sustainability story. See another of our projects with Cummins here.

Work

Three Tips to Tell Your Sustainability Story Effectively

Blog Author

Kristina Meek
April 20, 2022

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Businesses across industries are embracing environmental sustainability. In addition to the satisfaction of simply doing the right thing, they are realizing the many benefits of green initiatives. Investing in sustainability has been shown to drive innovation, attract and retain talent, and reduce supply risk. It also enhances public perception, if communicated well.

How consumers respond to corporate sustainability

Deloitte conducted research in 2020 showing that “consumers expect businesses to step up, especially when it comes to issues of climate change and the environment.” They uncovered a number of compelling statistics:

  • 23% of consumers say they will switch to buying products from an organization that shares their values on environmental issues

  • 42% have changed consumption habits themselves because of their stance on the environment

  • 21% have encouraged others to switch to a company whose values align with their opinion on an issue

Launching a sustainability program is no small feat. It requires collaboration and buy-in across a company, and it is often challenging to explain. It can involve complex science, economics, and logistics, and take a long time to show measurable results. However, investing the effort to communicate clearly and effectively to your target audiences often pays off.

Our tips for sustainability communication—with an example

1. Speak in plain language

    Consumers receive a flood of information each day about the changing climate, earth-friendly products, and businesses making “green” claims. Often this messaging contains complex scientific jargon—or completely made-up jargon used for greenwashing. Confusing people rarely brings them around to your point of view. When you tell your sustainability story, speak in a way the audience can understand.

    In the video below, you will notice conversational language and a genuine tone of voice. You will need to adjust your sustainability communications based on your audience’s level of understanding of the environmental topic at hand. Remember, just because we hear a lot of terms like “carbon footprint” or “coastline hardening” in the media regularly doesn’t mean that everyone actually understands them. Primary or secondary audience research can help you understand how to meet the audience where they are.

    One great way to make complex subjects meaningful is through metaphors and visualization. In the video, you hear a rock climber compare the challenges of sustainability planning to scaling a boulder.

    2. Inspire your audience

      News about the environment tends toward the negative—sometimes to the level of existential crisis. While it’s important to know the facts, however foreboding, hope and positivity tend to motivate an audience. None other than Sir David Attenborogh urges leaders to be “motivated by hope, not fear,” when it comes to the climate.

      Video is an excellent medium for inspiring audiences, an attention-getting platform suitable for balancing facts with emotions. The faces and voices of real people, whether your own internal team, third-party observers, or those your brand directly benefits, can connect with viewers emotionally. In addition, you can experiment with different types of visuals, from the sweeping views of landscapes and the Earth itself in the example video, to simple DIY footage, depending on your goals.

      3. Share diverse voices

        More and more, consumers understand the significance of the Triple Bottom Line: people, planet, and profits. When you tell your sustainability story, remember the “people” part. In the creation of your materials, as well as in the delivery, a wide range of demographics will make your content richer. In addition, audiences will connect more easily if they see people they relate to. You will demonstrate that you’re taking sustainability initiatives not just to benefit one group of people, but for all.

        In addition, use your sustainability communications to explain the “why” behind your actions, humanizing your brand and demonstrating your sense of purpose.

        How we used these principles to create a video for Cummins

        Cummins, the leading U.S. maker of diesel engines, has an ambitious strategy to decarbonize their company, their products, and their customers’ products. The company makes hydrogen fuel cells and next-generation diesel technology, which stand to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions when compared with energy sources that are currently most widely used.

        We partner with Cummins to communicate their leadership and innovation in sustainability. Cummins envisions a world where clean energy is available to everyone, and they want to share that vision with their customers and stakeholders. They recently launched a new initiative called Destination Zero, outlining their plans to achieve zero emissions by 2050.

        This four-minute video covers a lot of ground, moving from global problems to concrete solutions. In it, people of several different ethnicities, from different backgrounds, share glimpses of their own experiences—from growing up in Bangalore, India, to traveling in space.

        Each speaker, in his or her own way, instills hope balanced with the enormity of the task at hand. “It is going to happen, and I absolutely am confident,” says one speaker. “The ‘when’ part is where I want to make it sooner.”

        “With our global reach,” says another, “why can’t we help save the planet?”

        Importantly, the video illustrates that Cummins’ commitment to sustainability is rooted in their business strategy. That connection lends authenticity to their message. They explain specific, concrete changes the company is making and show actual people working on real products.

        We are proud to have been involved with this project and to work with ambitious clients like Cummins, and would love to help you tell your sustainability story.

        See another of our projects with Cummins here.