SB’16 Takeaways: What We Learned This Week at Sustainable Brands 2016

This week, the Cone Communications team headed out to Sustainable Brands for four days of conversation around "Activating Purpose." We heard from executives, startups, thought leaders and change makers on how they are activating social and environmental initiatives within their organizations – and how their messages are being amplified to key stakeholders.

The conference was filled with important ideas, but here are four key insights we came away with that can be applied to initiatives throughout industries:

Purpose in Every Job: On Tuesday we heard from Shannon Schuyler, Chief Purpose Officer at PricewaterhouseCoopers* (PwC). One of the lessons learned from the company's journey to engage its employee base is that employees in all types of organizations want to feel meaning, or purpose, in their everyday jobs – whether they are an accountant or a truck driver. Companies that can successfully help employees understand how their work is making a difference will be rewarded with a more loyal and fulfilled workforce.

Nature Knows Best: Janine Benyus, founder of Biomimicry 3.8, took us on a journey through the world around us, what we can learn from the designs that are innate in nature and examples of how those constructs can be applied to solve business challenges. One remarkable case comes from carpet company Interface, and its commitment to "Climate Take Back." Instead of simply becoming "net zero," the organization hopes to go even further and introduce positive benefits back into the world from its manufacturing processes.

Activism and Marketing Can Go Hand in Hand: Thursday's conversation gathered Cone's Lisa Manley with Ben & Jerry's* Activism Manager Christopher Miller and Senior Global Marketing Manager Jay Curley. The trio discussed how Ben & Jerry's harnesses a blend of activism, marketing and, of course, ice cream to help consumers understand and act on complex yet urgent social and environmental issues such as climate justice and voting rights. During the session, Miller stressed the fact that Ben & Jerry's activism campaigns would not have nearly the same success if the marketing team wasn't there to translate and amplify the messages into Ben & Jerry's signature fun and lighthearted campaigns and flavors.

Embrace "Vegucation": Morning Star Farms' Director of Brand and Innovation Marketing, Todd Smith, shared the frozen vegetarian food company's journey to dispel the myths around its products while educating consumers on the positive impact of going meat-free through what the brand calls "Vegucation." The company does this through a new documentary highlighting the lifestyles of meat-free or meat-light individuals, short viral videos, social media badges, icons and recipes as well as the Veg Effect Calculator, which helps consumers understand how their meat-free choices can save water, GHG emissions and land use.

Although the examples shared may be specific, the key learnings have broad implications – whether that's educating consumers on complex or divisive issues, engaging employees through finding the purpose in every role or learning from, and innovating with, the world around us.

*Cone Client

 

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