Best Practices For Implementing Sustainability Into Your Brand
By Dawn Meifert

With today’s highly aware consumer, sustainability is increasingly becoming a focal point of purchasing behavior. In fact, around 6 out of 10 consumers have changed their purchasing habits to better address climate change and 55% of consumers stated they would pay more for sustainable products. If a company does not practice sustainable efforts, they will lose brand equity and revenue.

Clients often come to SGK seeking assistance on how to enhance their green initiatives as many cannot keep up with the constant demand or latest evolutions. Below, we offer advice to brands, at any stage of their environmental efforts, on how to best implement sustainability into their image.  

Get Started Now
The world cannot wait for brands to start their environmental efforts. Research has shown that since the start of the Industrial Revolution, human activities have resulted in a rise in carbon dioxide levels, going from 280 parts per million to 417 parts per million.

While brands may be unsure how to approach sustainability, no step is too small in terms of effort. Consumers are becoming increasingly conscientious of their purchasing habits, only buying from brands that support and follow their beliefs. In fact, environmental concerns ranked at the top of the list of personal concerns for many adults, with 75% of Americans being concerned with the implications their purchases have on the environment.

Sustainability is no longer something that is nice to have, but instead imperative to the survival of your brand. With so many advocates for environmental issues, businesses who are not practicing sustainable efforts will see a decline in customers and profits while those that embrace change will reap the rewards of loyalty and revenue. 

Avoid Greenwashing
Some companies today are overexaggerating just how sustainable they are. From promising unrealistic targets and deadlines to presenting false claims and brand messages, greenwashing has become a real issue with brands. 46% of Americans say that third-party validation of a company’s claims is an important factor in deciding to trust a brand. Understand that you do not need to produce untrue facts in order to come across as sustainable.

Even if you only have made small steps in the realms of sustainability, it is better to be honest instead of overreaching on where you stand. Because of the seriousness of climate change, greenwashing your sustainability efforts can lead to heavy implications like scandals and loss of market shares. Speak to what sustainable efforts your company is actually involved in and be as transparent as possible with the messaging. Remember, this is an opportunity for you to showcase your brand’s journey and tell your own story.  

Think Outside of the Box
With modern technology and innovations, products and packaging can be made in many unique and creative ways. More importantly, they can be made in sustainable ways. Many of these creative projects will take time and experimentation in order to perfect it, but the return on investment makes all the hard work worth it.  

As an example, Poland Spring Water was looking to reduce their plastic usage and attempted to reduce the amount of plastic in their bottles. That initiative produced a product that felt less than premium. Brand guardians knew they needed a better way forward.

Using the latest technology in packaging design, SGK was able to create a bottle that held to a 30% reduction in plastic yet maintained a premium look and feel. The narrative of this story became a selling point for Poland Spring, compelling consumers to purchase their water over competitors.  

Norwegian ice cream company Hennig-Olsen paired with SGK to create a truly unique packaging experience for their product Icy Treasures. Sealed in edible (yes really) foil made from algae, and boxed in a sugar cane mold, this product shows just a few of the many alternative solutions to packaging. 


Consult an Agency
Many brands forget about their agency partners when it comes to sustainable practices. Agencies that have sustainability arms are so well versed in best practices, advice, and suppliers. Agencies can advise and guide your company on how to implement an eco-friendly path into your business plan. One key benefit of having an agency partner is that they can do an initial assessment to survey where your company stands with their sustainable efforts.

From there, they can advise you on your next steps and lay out a strategy for the road ahead to ensure you meet your sustainability goals. SGK advises how to make your packaging and brand experience process more sustainable and guides toward strategic partnerships. We also help create sustainable brand strategies and packaging through digitalization, structuring, and print management. If you do not currently have an agency, or your agency does not have a sustainability team, SGK is here to help, just Contact Us.

At the current rate, climate change is inevitable. What matters now is what we can do to delay its efforts and effects on the world. Any stride that you can make in your life helps, big or small. Help the world, help your brand, help yourself.  

About Dawn Meifert 
Since 2018, Dawn Meifert has served as the Senior Client Director on the Commercial side of SGK working with brands such as Wella, Coty, Blue Triton Brands, and Heineken. Strategic-driven and passionate, Dawn prides herself in providing her clients with the best results and solutions. As a Global Ambassador for the Climate Reality Project, Dawn holds extensive knowledge of sustainability and climate change.