Sustainability is a central tenet of success in modern business. Our head of sustainability and innovation, Steve Lister, has five recommendations to help brands ace their sustainability targets…
1. Understand why it’s important
Sustainability is so much more than paying lip-service to an industry buzzword. Sure, being committed to doing business sustainably is important for the survival of the environment, but it’s also essential for the survival of your business.
And we’re not just talking about complying with regulations either. Sustainable business practices directly affect your bottom line – after all, the opposite of ‘sustainable’ is ‘unsustainable’. It’s a semantic point – but there aren’t many business leaders striving for unsustainability.
It’s also more important for your business’s reputation than you may realise, and one area in which we’ve seen this play out is in recruitment. Talented young people have grown up with environmental causes on their radar – and they don’t want to give their time and skills to organisations that don’t show they care about it.
At Konica Minolta Marketing Services (KMMS), we know that sustainability isn’t a series of hollow promises, nor is it a means to tie a business up in unaffordable materials and processes. We’re sustainable realists. We have a deep understanding of materials, design and manufacturing, and that’s what we apply when we work towards sustainable solutions for our clients.
2. Make sustainability part of design
Design isn’t just about how things look. It’s easy to build sustainability into the products you create if the concept of sustainability is baked into the design process.
And again, it’s not about making things that don’t work hard for your bottom line. It’s about considering your options with a holistic view of the product’s life, from design to creation to use to disposal.
For example, when you’re creating a point-of-sale promotional display, you might default to good old PVC simply because you know it, and you know it to be cheap. But newer, more expensive materials may be lighter, and therefore cheaper to ship to your international retail sites. And have you considered the cost of disposing of your display when your campaign is finished?
If you consider all these variables at the design stage, you’ll make products that are better for the environment and don’t have any nasty surprises up their sleeve when it comes to shipping, practicality in use, or end-of-life.
If you’ve never considered any of this stuff before, you could be in for a root-and-branch overhaul of the way you do things. This is where working with a partner with the sustainability smarts of KMMS could revolutionise your business.
3. Scrutinise your supply chain
It’s rare for businesses to do everything in-house, so once you have a sustainability strategy that you believe in and are comfortable with, it’s time to challenge your suppliers to comply with your commitments. Don’t be afraid to make demands of them.
How can you ensure your suppliers are serious about sustainability? Make sure the proof-point is built into your work with them. Project-by-project and annual reporting is essential to keep suppliers honest and help you keep track of your own performance against your policies.
Another way is to work with certified partners. Here at KMMS, we are striving for the very best in sustainability certification. Konica Minolta was recently named in the world’s top 24 companies in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index, which means our parent company has been recognised as the top performer in its industry when it comes to corporate sustainability, as part of a complex audit that takes in 600 data points.
KMMS itself is a certified member of EcoVadis, the world’s leading provider of sustainability and corporate social responsibility ratings, and we’re also in the process of being audited to be certified by SEDEX, the body for sustainability supply chain certification.
Given that we achieved this sustainability status while working with more than 2,500 suppliers worldwide, we know a thing or two about scrutinising supply chains. Working with us will drive efficiency in your supply chain and get your ideas to market quickly.
4. Put processes in place to innovate
Innovation means different things to different brands, so it’s important you know what it means to you and what you want to achieve. One thing is for sure, though – you can’t embrace sustainability if you stand still. Innovation is critical.
First, recognise that when it comes to marketing collateral, fresh ideas are everywhere. At KMMS, we partner with brands all over the world, and the flow of ideas and innovations feeds into our experience. We can bring this knowledge to your brand’s challenges.
Increasingly, technology plays a part in what we do for clients, and technology can modernise everything from materials production and manufacturing to colour management and proofing. Keeping an eye on the latest technologies is key to running a sustainable business. Always consider what the future might look like, and feed that into what you do now.
5. Make sustainability everybody’s responsibility
It’s easier for an employee in your business to take a leap of faith with our sustainability recommendations if that person knows they won’t be hauled over hot coals for trying something new. And this comes back to putting policies in place, believing in your policies, and building sustainability into your design processes.
If your whole organisation is empowered to buy into the brand’s sustainability objectives and encouraged to hit them, you’re much more likely to see results. Both your environmental impact and your bottom line will see the benefits of placing sustainability considerations in your plans.
There’s a fine balance between being evangelical about sustainability and understanding the limitations of what brands need to do. We’re realistic and understand that there are price points to hit. But following these five tips really can make a difference – for the environment, for your reputation, and for your bottom line.
KMMS works with some of the world’s best-known brands to deliver marketing that is efficient and effective. Get in touch with us to talk about how we could help you boost your sustainability credentials while meeting your procurement and marketing challenges.