How to Communicate Your Sustainability Impact Effectively

Beyond Profit: How Companies 
are Sharing Their Impact on People and Planet

Many more companies are publishing details about their impact on both people and planet. It’s true that this is a trend that has been driven by the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) and a more values driven aspect of society.    

It’s also important that brands now realise that they are no longer only communicating to their shareholders or customers. Brands are communicating their impact through marketing and advertising campaigns, social media posts, and other communications such as their website or impact reports. Brands now need to communicate to all stakeholders, and this includes potential customers, investors, and the policy makers, amongst many others.  

However, some companies are not effectively communicating their efforts despite doing a lot, as sharing information on websites can be overwhelming and time-consuming for readers. Many people simply don’t have the time or the patience to read reams of information on every aspect of your supply chain, your carbon emissions, water usage, waste reduction efforts, employee well-being, and other sustainability-related topics. 

Whether or not a company is saying too much or could be clearer in their communications depends on various factors, such as the audience they are targeting and the specific information they are trying to convey. Companies should aim to communicate their impact in a clear and concise manner that is easily understandable to all their stakeholders. They should also be transparent about their performance and any challenges they may be facing in their sustainability efforts. Tell the truth.

Marks and Spencer's Tiered Approach

As an enormous organisation with an immense supply chain, Marks and Spencer has a duty to address the climate crisis. Their website presents information in a tiered manner, with brief top-level details and more in-depth information available for those who want to learn more. The company has considered that people may not want to sift through copious amounts of information, so they offer snapshots, videos, diagrams, facts, and engaging graphics to make their impact more vivid and relatable

Patagonia's Impact-Driven Brand Communication

If you’re seeking activism, Patagonia is the brand for you. Their emphasis is on taking action and they use their brand heritage as a cause-related company to tell their own story. When examining their impact on society or the planet, Patagonia employs a blog-style approach on their website, sharing stories for every product about its origin and production. The brand’s communication is entirely focused on their impact, with storytelling as a clear format that has always prioritised the planet and people, earning them their reputation.

An Innovative approach from Octopus

Octopus is an energy company that has become synonymous with environmental consciousness and its impact on society. The Octopus Group comprises investors, ventures, real estate, and advisors, among other things, making it a vast organisation. Octopus excels at highlighting its impact, using various tools such as videos, blog posts, and information on its collaborations and investments in other companies. However, what sets Octopus apart is its innovative approach, such as creating the Future Generations Report, which is a compelling exploration of a specific stakeholder and provides insights into the company’s purpose and values.

Effective Stakeholder Communication

Perhaps others should take note and consider how innovative they can be in their story telling and impact reporting.     

These three examples showcase innovative approaches to impact reporting, highlighting the importance of effective communication with all stakeholders. Rather than relying on lengthy and overwhelming reports, these brands use creative methods to engage their audience. As more brands embrace this approach, we can expect to see even more dynamic and compelling ways to share impact information. It’s time to prioritise readability and consider who will be consuming this information.