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GREENWASHING

Develop authentic sustainability communications for your brand

By our News Team | 2022

As greenwashing concerns increase, marketers must ensure their sustainability credentials are authentic – and communicated appropriately.

Marketers are at a crucial tipping point in terms of developing authentic sustainability communications and creative. The pressure on brands to end greenwashing is increasing from all angles: pressure groups, regulatory boards and consumers themselves.

In a blog post, Jon Arthurs, the Sustainability Practice Lead at global market research and insights firm, MetrixLab, warns that consumer trust in the sustainability credentials of corporates is eroding rapidly and cynicism is growing.

Greenwashing

A climate change protest in Europe. Photo by Osvaldo Gago via Wikimedia Commons

“Thanks to social media and the tidal wave of calls to action on the climate emergency, we will see a rising backlash and scrutiny over [brand] communications like never before,” Arthurs says. He suggests several actions to help brands build stronger communications in the sustainability space:

Permissibility: Your brand needs consumer permission to own the claim. That means you need to earn that right by making sure that it fits your brand in order to drive equity.

Be authentic: Live and breathe your sustainability claims throughout the organisation. Substantiate those claims with absolute thoroughness.

Be transparent: Provide easy access to publicly available information that supports your claims and advertising. Transparency builds trust.

Be fresh: As the arena of sustainability-based claims becomes increasingly cluttered, you’ll need to bring a fresh, relevant and credible perspective to the creative.

Build your brand around a genuine commitment to shared values: Consumers feel good about being part of a brand purpose that resonates with their personal values. It aligns with how they want to be perceived, or how they want to help the world.

Focus on driving your sustainability-related brand attributes: Determine, assess and monitor your core brand levers of sustainability to drive your equity.  

Recognise the Value-Action Gap: Studies show that, on average, only 10% of consumers do what they claim when it comes to environmental behaviours. The UN calls it the “Value-Action Gap” – people don’t tend to do as they claim. Brands must recognise this and develop communications with this in mind. Understand the context of other purchasing factors that drive the decision and identify those as the correct levers to pull across the entire consumer decision journey.

Leverage your history of sustainability: Many brands have been following a sustainable path for years, but haven’t yet communicated it or seen consumer appetite for it. This is changing – leverage your old sustainable assets.

Embed your commitment to sustainability: Embed sustainability across the entire business, supply chain and among stakeholders.

Build it over time: Jumping in with sustainability ads from nowhere adds to the cynicism consumers today are experiencing. Build your sustainability messaging first through social media; ensure you are seeing positive sentiment to your sustainability-based claims and then build out into other media platforms.

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.