The Customer Has to Come First in Sustainability Communication, Too

© Copyright 2011 CorbisCorporationUsually, marketing and communication professionals treat stories about brands’ sustainability commitments like any other marketing material: they push them forward with a pre-determined message in mind. But what marketers are coming to realize, writes Andrea Learned in a recent CSR blog post, is that the messages consumers draw from these stories don’t always match what marketers intend.
For example, Stonyfield found that what mattered most to consumers in their sustainability story was not that Stonyfield products were organic and sustainable, which was what marketers had originally intended. Rather, it was that Stonyfield products were free from pesticides. Stonyfield embraced this new, consumer-driven narrative, and put the pesticide-free message front and center on their product labels.
Sustainability stories like Stonyfield’s — which are dynamically driven by consumers’ language and priorities — help make brands more powerful, more memorable, and more shareable, Learned writes. Climate communicators can learn from this advice too. By telling stories, and by incorporating Americans’ voices into those stories whenever possible, the climate movement can start to drill through apathy and create momentum for climate solutions.


Brand Sustainability Stories That Tell Themselves

By Andrea Learned, Contributor at CSR Wire & Senior Social Media Strategist at Pyramid Communications
Sustainability can be a complex topic for any corporation or brand to communicate; yet to persuade the range of stakeholders to “buy” it, the “whys” and “hows” must be whittled down to their simplest form. Add to that already steep challenge the findings of the Hartman Group Sustainability 2013 Report:
We are seeing a broad gap in the way consumers and companies think about and approach sustainability. That very few consumers today can name a sustainable company underscores the fact that so many Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability activities go relatively unnoticed by consumers.
To close that gap and educate consumers, brand representatives and academic presenters at the recent Yale Interbrand Sustainability Marketing Summit powerfully demonstrated the importance of storytelling. Getting the stories to tell themselves is the key.
Read more here.

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