10 steps to building a sustainable brand

An editor recently asked me to share how an organization could build a sustainable brand. I offered a 10-step approach for any business or nonprofit on the sustainability path. I’m curious what additions or changes you would make to this list:

  1. Assess organizational brand and sustainability: Develop an accurate baseline appraisal of how customers, employees and other stakeholders perceive your business, how you stack up against your competition and how far you’ve gone in implementing sustainable practices.
  2. Review Mission: A great brand takes its cue from an extraordinary mission. Does your mission inspire or gather dust?
  3. Identify Sustainable Branding Team: Involve representatives from across your business in defining your brand. Don’t leave it to marketing alone.
  4. Define Brand Identity: Get clear on who you are as a business. What do you stand for? And how does that create competitive distinction and customer relevance? Do you want sustainability to lead your brand or live in the background?
  5. Engage Employees: Get your employees on board with your new brand. Ask them to identify how they and their groups can deliver the experience your brand promises.
  6. Produce Brand Marketing Plan: Determine how you will create and keep customers through the communications and presentation of your brand identity.
  7. Produce Sustainability Plan: A sustainable brand is built on sustainable business practices. Determine how far you are willing and able to go with implementing sustainability in the short and long term.
  8. Execute Sustainability Strategies: Prevent greenwashing by not letting marketing charge ahead of your sustainability practices. Walk first, then talk.
  9. Execute Brand Marketing Strategies: Balance your natural enthusiasm for storytelling with a resolve to portray your business as it is, especially when it comes to sustainability.
  10. Measure, Report and Adjust: Sustainable brands celebrate what they do well, hold themselves publicly accountable for their shortcomings and continuously strive to do better.
July 25th, 2011

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