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Building a Comms Strategy to Leverage Your ESG Programme

ESG (environmental, social, and corporate governance) has been a hot topic in recent years, and as we move towards the second half of the decade, it continues to grow both in terms of visibility and importance. However, brands still face challenges in successfully communicating their policies and campaigns in a way that feels authentic, and excites and engages their audience. We know that investors and consumers are more keen than ever to back sustainable brands and their initiatives (our enhancing business decarbonisation initiatives blog post discusses precisely this), but the question still remains: what strategies can brands put in place to effectively communicate their ESG efforts and leverage the investment they are making to support their wider brand objectives?

At what rate is interest in sustainability growing?

Data from Google Trends depicts the growth of sustainability and ESG search interest effectively, with global insights from the past five, and 20 years showing a clear increase, most notably since the tail end of 2021 for both search terms.

Search term: Sustainability - over the past five years, worldwide:

Search term: Sustainability - since 2004, worldwide:

Search term: ESG - since 2004, worldwide:

*(Numbers represent search interest relative to the highest point on the chart for the given region and time.)

Similar results are shown in a report by Brandwatch, which looks at mentions about sustainability on social media, blogs, forums, and review sites over the last five years:

This data and countless other insights highlights the need for businesses to understand their positions around ESG-related topics and develop their initiatives. Encouragingly, it would appear that many brands are answering the call, and putting ESG at the heart of their business, brand and marketing strategies. Aldermore’s Green SME Index, for example, revealed that the number of UK SMEs with formal Net Zero measurement and commitments in place has more than doubled from 2022 to 2023. And, two million, or 42% of SMEs questioned, have started on the road to making their business fit for net zero.

We also know that 59% of companies started using more sustainable materials in 2023, and 54% of UK-based companies started using energy-efficient or climate-friendly machinery, technologies or equipment in 2023.

Should businesses be focusing on communicating their ESG claims?

In short, yes. A study undertaken by McKinsey and NielsenIQ in 2023 reports that “products making ESG-related claims averaged 28% cumulative growth over the past five-year period, versus 20% for products that made no such claims”.

For brands, this highlights the importance of a robust and effective comms strategy - letting your customers know what your initiatives are can make a big difference to your bottom line.

How can businesses communicate their initiatives with investors and consumers?

Authenticity is key

Transparency and authenticity are paramount in ESG communication strategies as they foster trust and credibility among stakeholders. Transparent reporting ensures that all relevant information, both positive and negative, is openly shared, allowing stakeholders to make informed decisions. Authenticity, on the other hand, implies that the company's actions genuinely reflect its stated ESG commitments, rather than merely serving as a façade for public relations. This alignment between words and actions not only enhances the company's reputation but also strengthens stakeholder relationships, as it demonstrates a genuine commitment to sustainable and ethical practices. Ultimately, transparency and authenticity in ESG communications help build a foundation of trust, which is essential for long-term success and positive societal impact.

Pick the right ideas

There are various ways that brands can highlight their sustainability and ESG credentials to their audiences. However, first and foremost, you need to ensure that your activities will resonate with your audience’s needs and wants. You need to understand what it is your consumers really care about - what is most important to them? Tailoring your message to match your different stakeholders is what will pique their attention and drive engagement, so developing the right activities and initiatives will ultimately help drive your strategy’s success.

Detailed reports

One way to communicate sustainability initiatives is through releasing a detailed report of your current standings and future plans and goals. Even if you’re not quite where you want to be, it gives your audience a good indication of your intentions which can be worth a great deal to your brand. If you follow through on these initiatives and show in future reports the progress you have made, this goes a long way in fostering brand loyalty.

TIP: Be clear on what your sustainability efforts are/will be so there’s no room for error or misinterpretation when you follow up.


For ecommerce clients, packaging is an ideal communication tool. You can shout about your commitments or be a little more subtle in your messaging, but either way, it’s something that’s bound to be noticed by your customer base and can be incredibly effective in inducing customer loyalty.

Leverage partnerships

As described in our enhancing business decarbonisation initiatives post, partnerships are a sure-fire way to demonstrate your commitment to transparency, accountability, and shared responsibility. Not only can you develop more effective strategies, but you have another communication outlet to highlight your brand and the work you’re doing.

Events and local communities

By marketing your involvement in either events or local communities that support your sustainability vision and/or goals is another effective way to communicate your initiatives. Relevancy is key to ensure brand trust is upheld, but through hosting events, brands have a vast opportunity to conduct effective PR and highlight ESG strategies.

In conclusion

Building out a communications strategy for sustainability should be multi-faceted, considering questions such as - what do your consumers care about and what’s important to them? For maximum impact, tailor your messaging to specific audience groups, be transparent, honest and authentic and leverage strategic partnerships.

If you would like support in building out an effective communications strategy, get in contact with our experts today.