The objective of marketing, in its basic sense, is to promote products or services with the aim to sustain and enhance brand equity. While on the other hand, sustainability is all about bringing in holistic practices that mark the way an organisation conducts business, being socially responsible as well as relevant. While the objective of both marketing and sustainability is to create a positive brand image in the minds of the consumer, often the efforts are widely disparate of both these functions to achieve the same goal.
The thread that can be the catalyst in creating synergies between these efforts of marketing and business sustainability is Communications. Usually the underdog in this context, Communications can play a central role and build coherence between marketing, brand building and sustainability initiatives. Communication whether it is focussing on sustainability or on brand building can send out the message with subtlety as it can ride on the wagon of existing campaigns.
There are three main ways to look at this:
- Piecing-in brand ideology in every initiative: To build synonymy in the brand’s actions and philosophy, communications plays the central role of craftsmanship. To elaborate, at Viacom18 our brand promise is to open new worlds. As a central function, communications plays a very significant role in imbibing this message in every sustainability project the organisation selects while also at the same time weaving in this message in every corporate brand marketing campaign. Thereby, building equity through action.
- Bridging ideology into action: All brands exist to be true to their ideology. Their products and services are also a manifestation of their ideology. However, in the course of doing business the ideology takes a back seat to product/service features in marketing initiatives. Keeping Communications at the centre helps in ensuring that the brand’s ideology is reflected in every piece of consumer-facing information. Further expanding, at Viacom18 our ideology is to be a network with a humane purpose. The shows we produce such as Shakti, Udaan, Dating in the Dark; the films we make such as Queen, Mary Kom, etc. are testament to this ideology but are fragmented pieces that were bridged together into action in our corporate brand film of Open New Worlds.
- Action that leads to sustainability: Sustainability in business ensures that everything the brand does is consistent and at par to achieve its vision. Social initiatives and aware business practices are actions that contribute to a brand’s sustainability score. While negotiating content, context and creative expression, communication can play a lead role in ensuring that sustainability doesn’t take a backseat but leads into actions that impact social change. Referencing Toilet: Ek Prem Katha, the film by Viacom18 Motion Pictures was a business venture in line with our vision ‘to be the most admired media & entertainment company’. The marketing communications around the project was such that it aimed towards creating a social impact, which eventually led to the film being used as a behaviour change agent in rural India around open defecation.
In each of these use-cases, one can see how communications can and did play a significant role in developing synergies amongst diverse functions such as marketing and sustainability. The potential here is limitless and more organisations need to leverage this powerhouse in building its brand equity and reputation.
This article is part of series written by team leaders or professionals from the Reputation Today 30 Top Corporate Communication Teams – 2018 powered by Kaizzen Communications.