Why Authenticity, Complexity and ESG in Marketing and Communications Matters
As an organizational and experience strategy services company, we understand the importance of authenticity, complexity, and environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors in corporate messaging and branding. We also know that the issue of greenwashing––the practice of making exaggerated or false claims about a brand's sustainability––can damage reputations and erode trust. In this blog post, we will explore how marketing and communications can align with ESG, avoid greenwashing, and create value for customers and society alike.
Greenwashing is a form of messaging spin in which green PR and green marketing tactics are used to create an image of environmental responsibility that is not supported by real actions or evidence. Greenwashing can range from vague or misleading claims to outright lies, and it can be unintentional or intentional. Greenwashing not only undermines the credibility of truly sustainable brands, but it hinders progress towards a more sustainable future.
Authenticity and Complexity
To avoid greenwashing, marketing and communications must be based on authenticity and complexity, where authenticity means being transparent and honest about a brand's environmental impact, goals, and progress, and complexity means recognizing the interconnectedness of environmental, social, and governance issues, and addressing them comprehensively. Authenticity and complexity require a deep understanding of a brand's values, operations, and stakeholders.
Marketing and communications plays a pivotal role in facilitating the internal adoption of ESG strategies, as well as sharing goals and performance externally. Marketing and communications teams can work to ensure ESG initiatives align with company values, and that any publicly stated outcomes from these initiatives are backed by quantifiable evidence. Marketing and communications can also integrate ESG into operations and culture, making it a cross-departmental endeavor by linking it to value creation and growth strategies. And, marketing and communications can influence the C-suite to champion ESG through thought-leadership strategy.
What to Do Next: 5 Steps to Avoid Greenwashing
And lastly, regularly monitor and publicly report on the brand's progress towards achieving its sustainability and ESG performance goals. This is the most critical step in avoiding greenwashing––backing up what you say with what you've done.
Contact us. We would be happy to share more insights on and guidance for avoiding greenwashing, explore ways to strengthen your sustainable marketing and communications, and drive increased value for your brand, your customers and your stakeholders alike.