Sustainability is more than just being green

Strategic adviser Martin Brems states that sustainability is something all companies must make up their minds about and if they don’t, they will discarded. Doing sustainable branding can be based on the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals which are about much more than just being green.

By Heidi Juel Skovrider, Erhverv Plus, October 2, 2019

ODENSE: All companies, regardless of size or industry, must make up their minds about sustainability. Suppliers, customers and consumers will choose to do without them if they don’t. This is the opinion of strategic advisor Martin Brems, who works with sustainable branding in his company Brems & Co.

– It is no longer enough to have a product. Your business partners and consumers expect attitudes. What do you stand for and what do you want? You have to make up your mind, says Martin Brems.

– It must be authentic, and you have to show who you are. Tell me what you want and where you are going, because then I want to join that journey as a customer. That’s what you need to become good at, and that’s what I help my clients focus attention on.

– If you only have the product and you don’t show who you are and what you stand for, you won’t be able to differentiate yourself well enough, and then customers or consumers can easily go elsewhere. Bring them on your journey, because they want to make a difference.

The Sustainable Development Goals are really good because they are so tangible, and you can quickly locate where you can make a difference. As a company, they make it really easy to get started.

The Sustainable Development Goals are tangible

Currently, there is one issue that is more important than others to make up your mind about: sustainability. Delving into the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals can help. There are 169 sub-goals in addition to the 17 overall goals, so there will be something that everyone can identify with, says Martin Brems.

– The Sustainable Development Goals are really good because they are so tangible, and you can quickly locate where you can make a difference. As a company, they make it really easy to get started.

– A lot of companies have committed themselves this year, but they haven’t organized it or profiled themselves on it. It is important to incorporate it and use it actively in your communication, Martin Brems says and continues:

– Maybe it has always been part of your company’s DNA, but having the Sustainable Development Goals as your point of reference can help everyone come to a mutual understanding that everybody can appreciate.

Sustainability is three things

When you delve into the Sustainable Development Goals, it will become clear that sustainability is about much more than just green thinking and the environment. They are goals that deal with everything from ending poverty and hunger to achieving gender equality and reducing inequality.

Many people and companies are focused on green sustainability, but that is only part of sustainable thinking and action, explains Martin Brems.

– A challenge is that everybody is thinking green, green, green. But sustainability is three things. It is also economic and social sustainability. A lot of companies forget that sustainability is also about economics. It is important to remember that you can’t invest in the climate or social sustainability, if you lack economic sustainability, he explains.

– It is a misconception that sustainability is expensive. That is costs extra money. That is not the point. The intention is that you have to think it into your business model.

– It is a little cold to say, but it has to match otherwise your business won’t survive, and then you won’t be able to make a difference anyway, says Martin Brems.

Create a community

When Martin Brems talks to his clients about sustainability and its necessity, he has five pieces of good advice for getting started. The first piece of advice is about defining the company’s vision and describing what difference the company can make in the world.

– When you are on your deathbed, it won’t be about how much money you earned but what difference you made. In order to make it seem natural and not forced, it is important that you as managing director and the company’s DNA shine through. Martin Brems continues with his second piece of advice, which is about delving into the Sustainable Development Goals.

– Make up your mind about them, and if they don’t work, look into what else can be done, he says.

– It is important to make an action plan that matches your vision and explicitly states what you want to achieve.

The third and fourth advice is about involving employees and customers. To have a dialogue and create a community around your goals.

Finally, sustainable branding is about communicating what you are doing.

Have your own goals

– Companies have to actively use the Sustainable Development Goals in their communication and show their attitudes. Be authentic. If you want to be different, you have to have the courage to stand out and tell the world what you stand for, says Martin Brems, who works with several of the Sustainable Development Goals In his company.

It is goal number eight, which focuses on decent jobs and economic growth with the sub-goal of creating sustainable economic growth.

Additionally, Brems & Co. focuses on goal number twelve which is described as “responsible consumption and production patterns” with the sub-goal of motivating companies to act sustainably.

– It has been a good day at the office when I have gotten clients to focus on sustainability as a central part of their business, strategy, purpose and vision, and they reach the targets they have set, says Martin Brems.