The Importance of ESG marketing
The pandemic period has not only been a pause on our daily routine but has also served as an impetus for a change in our thought process. Along with this, the idea towards sustainability has moved from the mere tackling of environmental risks. Today, it caters to curating resilience into infrastructure. Essentially, it helps set the floor for a conversation around the Environmental, Social and Governance aspects. In this light, the call for sustainability marketing has evermore heightened.
The meaning of ESG
Environment – The E in ESG has become a crucial concern of the 21st century. This aspect looks at the processes and procedures in the use of energy and management of environmental impact.
Social – At the outset, the S in ESG is not evident, but it is an integral part of the framework. The factor looks into how a company fosters its members. This culture will then have ripple effects on the community at large. The inclusivity and diversity, together, help to pave the way towards a sustainable tomorrow.
Governance – The G in the ESG comprises two parts. First, it caters to staying ahead of violations and ensuring transparency and appointing industry best practices. The second aspect is internal and looks at the controls and processes deployed in governing and making effective decisions.
ESG in brand-building
According to a projection report by McKinsey, the management consulting firm, around 60 per cent of millennials across the globe showed interest in fuelling their spending towards brands having a corporate social responsibility commitment.
Social media and news today are 24/7. This transformation has put companies under continuous scrutiny by investors and customers. From the investment selection process to employee health and wellness benefits, the scrutiny looks at it all.
Note that the idea of sustainability is by no measure new. It existed even during the pre-social media days. What social media has done is that the open platforms have forced companies to incorporate ESG efforts into their core business model. Today, it is all the more vital for businesses to centre their marketing efforts around sustainability. And this sustainability is combined with storytelling. A stellar blend of these two then helps elevate brand loyalty and value.
When it comes to brand-building, having high ESG scores lend credibility. According to an S&P 500 report, 37 of the 50 top-notch brands had above-the-median ESG scores. These scores also help to enhance the company messaging and communication in the marketplace.
Perspectives and approaches for implementing ESG in branding
Marketing teams that recognize the vitality of having integrated ESG policies and outcomes stand to gain a considerable competitive edge over the other players. Below are a few ideas that companies can use.
Explore brand values
Brand values make for the centre point of any brand. These are especially integral in defining and communicating the company’s ESG outlook. In doing so, the messaging should feel right and come out as authentic. As a pro tip, refrain from overselling and using cliché and cheesy lines.
Redefine the mission statement
The company will stand to earn brownie points for creating a mission statement that aligns perfectly with the ESG efforts. The best way forward is to incorporate these values into the overall purpose. Doing so helps in setting the tone for the company culture.
Set strategic goals
The strategic plan and vision must ensure that it values CSR. Secondly, it should help in articulating the company strategy on delivering the ESG goals. One way to hold your business accountable to investors and consumers is by setting and communicating objectives.
Once you are ready to put your foot onto the ESG pedal, next up in marketing and communications efforts is to create a strategy for sharing your story.
Use consistent, differentiated messaging
First, identify the primary differentiators that give your company and brand that unique edge. Once identified, move on to planning how to communicate the mission, values and goals consistently. The brand narrative should cater to every touchpoint where investors, employees and consumers come across your brand. With that said, make sure to maintain a unified brand message.
The gamut of content marketing helps stay abreast of the relevant issues and to communicate the company’s position. Within the expansive ESG ecosystem, deciding and coming up with impactful topics can be a challenge. Zero down on topics that blend with your company and its values and goals. Better yet, you can hold the thought leader baton on a specific topic. If all goes well, it will take your brand to the next level.
Focus on Results and Impact
Though ESG is a priority, the performance of a company and its products are crucial drivers of investment and consumer decisions. It is a no-brainer that investors are interested in returns. Hence, when communicating results, translate the ESG efforts to show better returns and risk mitigation. In doing so, make sure to highlight direct connections between sustainability and performance.
ESG, though important, is still at a nascent stage, especially when looking at a global and standardized framework. Several companies use ESG to hype their marketing efforts and yet do not deliver upon the promises. When this happens, the company is subject to greenwashing. When working on ESG, companies should also look at the materiality assessments. Doing so helps answer the questions about employees, vendors, working practices and sustainability initiatives, among others.