#CODES & NARRATIVES

Europa Bendig
Managing Partner STURMundDRANG
15.09.2021 | reading time: 2 minutes

CHANGING CULTURES MAGAZINE > CODES & NARRATIVES > Sustainability With No Regrets

Sustainability With No Regrets

This article first appeared in the June 06/21 issue of "absatzwirtschaft".

It takes more than innovative technologies to make sustainability a reality. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in many cases require individuals, organizations and societies to change behaviors. This means in particular that individuals must become willing to make choices, recycle, reduce consumption, share, adopt healthier lifestyles and support a better society, among other things.

People want their consumer activity to make them a better version of themselves. Thus for today’s consumers, brands serve as a ‘marker’ not just for buyers’ styles and tastes but also their desired behaviors. And we, as brand makers, must look to new ways of aligning behaviors with sustainability. Businesses and brands have a major role to play in modeling the right attitude through relevant communications. New approaches are required with well-thought-out positive messaging that is effective for triggering the behavioral changes that will further sustainability. The former narrative model of shaming into changing their behaviors thus falls by the wayside. To be relevant, offers and narratives must focus away from the consumer as individual and rather on the bigger picture of society and the environment instead. Communications thus need to abandon scenarios of angst and bad conscience in favor of messaging around encouragement, context awareness and commitment that drives positive behavior changes.

How to drive systemic change

Instead of than having to make personal sacrifices regarding consumer and other behaviors, the win-win narrative is of a cycle of shared success for people and brands in which what is good for the environment is good for me too. I win when the society in which I live wins. For example, instead telling consumers they have to scale back and go without to save the environment, we look to curate our consumerism in coordination, leaving out the exotic and minimizing waste to retain only what’s truly valuable. The paradigm may involve transparent production using only good ingredients with zero negative impact on people, animals or the environment, products for slower-paced lifestyles, reducing our demand for resources and/or implementing procurement standards effective against exploitation. Brands and businesses are in a position to propel gains in the areas of political engagement, activism and awareness with great effectiveness, able to drive forward systemic change to create a new society around long-term values of social and environmental responsibility, i.e. sustainability. Consumers want them to do so. What are you waiting for?

 

This article first appeared in the June 06/21 issue of "absatzwirtschaft".

Image references: Image 1: "Header" // Image 2: "SDG" // Image 3: "No Business"

 

 

Author: Europa Bendig

STURMundDRANG founder and General Manager Europa Bendig has been consulting on innovation processes for NGOs and international enterprises for 18 years, primarily in the luxury goods, health, services, beauty, living and social businesses. She specializes in cultural codes and narratives that give brands and portfolios cultural relevance and promote customer loyalty.