Sustainable development is the development which meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations to meet their own needs. According to the Brundtland Commission, Our Common future will hinge on sustainable choices that we make today. Failure to do that will result in dire consequences for humanity. Many organisations have started to embrace sustainability in their business operations and this has resulted in the growth of their brands.

Customers no longer want to be associated with products which are unsustainable. Polluting processes and energy intensive processes have been identified as negative vices that can cause negative perception towards an organisation. Whenever a major oil spillage happens at sea, pressure and civic groups are amongst the first to arrive. In this digital age, social media continues to either promote or destroy brands based on their environmental and social endeavours.

Implementing sustainability means that brands are environmentally friendly, socially just and economically viable. In other words, it means brands are protecting the People-Planet-Profit (3Ps) agenda. The relevance of sustainability varies from company to company depending on the nature of environmental and social issues.

There are many business benefits of implementing sustainability. Firstly, the brand will be more acceptable to customers. Modern customers do not want to be associated with organisations that are insensitive to the toxicology of hazardous substances.

Secondly, there is a potential to save costs on (energy, water, chemicals and waste). Many organisations pay more for energy, water and chemicals. This can unnecessarily increase the bill of these utilities which can be counter-productive to the financial viability of the organisation.

Thirdly, organisations that implement sustainability within communities, such as through Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) can be viewed as good corporate citizens who have the ability to assist society. On the other hand, there are organisations which do not support local socio-economic development. These fail to garner support from stakeholders. Getting a license to operate from communities, is the only way to attain long term viability as an entity.

Non-compliance with environmental and social requirements, may result in your brand tainted as an irresponsible organisation, which does not care for the future. There are some bad examples of organisations which have been involved in oil spillages, disposing wastewater at night, abuse of workers, child labour as well as poor health and safety practices. Having workers die in the production process of an organisation can result in the organisation being associated with blood and death. This underlines the need for organisations to invest in Occupational Safety and Health (OSH).

Brand loyalty and brand awareness is shaped by the actions that we do as an organisation and what people know our company for.  Some of these aspects are shaped by perceived or real beliefs towards a company. The ripple effect of this is shaping the public opinion and thereby polluting the clean status of the brand.

In order to buttress brand awareness and sustainable development within organisations, there is a need for a strategy to be development. It is very common to see successful corporations developing sustainability strategies or mainstreaming sustainability into existing company strategies.

The world is currently reeling from the effects of climate change and natural disasters. Most of these events occur as a result of human induced anthropogenic activities. The push towards renewable energy and electric mobility is gaining traction each and every hour. Brands that embrace clean energy sources are seen in good light by society and can gain more customers.

Environmental misdemeanours may result in corporates getting sued or being made to pay compensation. Legal cases associated with environmental sustainability are on the increase. Being on the headline each and every day, may make people detest a company’s brand. Once that attitude builds up, it may become difficult to sell goods and services.

Financiers have also started to include sustainability as a criterion for granting funding. Due to the potential effects of financing unsustainable operations, banks are undertaking due diligence exercises. Therefore, brands that abuse social trust and those which are unfriendly to nature, will find it difficult to be accepted by financiers and investors. Accessing capital through capital markets and other financial havens is becoming difficult without sustainability. As we progress towards a sustainable future, corporate sustainability shall be at the centre of development.


Tawanda Collins Muzamwese is an international consultant in Sustainability who has experience in training, auditing and consultancy in more than 30 countries across the world. He is the founder of Toxiconsol Consultancy and the Green Business Gazette. He holds an MSc in Environmental and Energy Management from University of Twente, Netherlands as well as a BSc in Applied Environmental Science from University of Zimbabwe.