Collaborating with brands to help tell their story
At BayWa r.e. we partner with many of the world’s leading brands to help them realise their renewable energy goals. Outside of these larger brands, we know the vast majority are still yet to start their journey. However, I don’t think that alone accounts for what we see in this report.
Many brands, all things being equal, do want to tell their story. But, in my view, as they work towards their goals they struggle to tell that story – especially through social media. There are a whole range of reasons for this, many pertaining to the difficulty experienced by brands in articulating that message in public forums:
1. Not their core business
While brands certainly attach significant importance to their sustainable journey, it is outside their core business. The journey to renewable energy sourcing is a process involving many elements of a business’ operations. It is a difficult process that can make simplifying messages for communications purposes challenging. For a brand to confidently talk about its position publicly, a significant investment of time and resource can be required in articulating that message. This can reduce the ‘airtime’ a brand will give to the topic. Furthermore, in some cases, a brand’s communication team may be unaware of the good work being done elsewhere in their business, and therefore unable to best argue the case for talking about it.
2. Brand perception
Through their sustainable journey and transitioning to renewables, brands are breaking new ground and doing something for the first time. This can lead to an inherent nervousness about ‘going public’ too early, and the reputational risk of communicating while still unsure of the success of those efforts. We see many brands, who have a good story to tell, keeping comparatively quiet about their progress and lessons learnt.
3. The nature of social media
I think this nervousness is then compounded by the nature of social media. Where we see brands including messaging about their renewable energy targets and goals, that messaging tends to be clustered around key milestones and major announcements, rather than being part of the ongoing social media debate.
Here, I think there is nervousness about over-exposure. Brands can be easy targets and there are those who would see them as part of the problem. Understandably, brands then shy away from more socially led discussions. But, in doing so, the opportunity is lost to tell their story and show how they are part of the solution.
All that said, I believe we are moving in a positive direction. As brands progress further along their journey, gaining confidence and experience, they are communicating more often. Encouragingly, we are also seeing brands recognising the importance and benefits of communications to the extent they are making it part of the procurement process when appointing consultants and providers.
How we can support them in their communications is increasingly something BayWa r.e. is discussing with brands. This year, we have successfully delivered projects and collaborated on communications for brands such as Budweiser, Tetra Pak and global property group Goodman.
What we need to see now is a transition from 'headline' stories focusing on major 'firsts' and milestones, to more stories about the journey itself and lessons learnt. We would love to see more leading brands feeling comfortable in talking about their renewable journey more often – and social media very much lends itself to this storytelling approach. No doubt this would also have a positive ‘trickle down’ effect on other brands currently more risk averse about sharing progress or who perhaps feel in the shadow of those major announcements.
In avoiding the worst effects of climate change, all voices and perspectives are important and there is much to be gained by sharing experiences, comparing notes and, ultimately, reframing the current discourse (online and elsewhere) around this concept of 'progress'. In the end, these efforts will all go towards growing the public consciousness around climate issues and demonstrating how brands are part of the solution.
Global Director of Energy Solutions