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How to Bring Purpose to Your Sustainability Story

Keslio Team
 minute read  
May 6, 2024
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Practicing sustainability requires many hands coming together to create a unified strategy towards the same goal. You have sustainability leaders managing and monitoring the overall plan. There are teams gearing the company’s operations towards more sustainable practices. You have people ensuring ESG data is properly collected and validated. Lastly, there are people dedicated to ensuring your sustainability story and your impact gets across the right channels through reporting initiatives, transparency, and sustainability communications and marketing.

Communicating sustainability can be tricky. There may be so much to say and with increasing regulations, there are more details to consider. Climate strategy, decarbonization initiatives, nature and biodiversity-related risks, waste management plans, empowering others, and ESG leadership alone can be overwhelming and this is just at the surface level. Each pillar of ESG, each sustainability initiative has its own details, such as its metrics, future plans, and current performance. Being able to iron out all the elements and tie it into one story can be confusing. Sustainability is like a puzzle; it takes time to put all the pieces together and it is truly satisfying to see the overall picture.

So how can we better tell our sustainability story? How can we better communicate our performance? 

A good place to start is finding purpose and a sense of direction. If we want to get to Point B, knowing where to start and understanding the importance of reaching the end can take us a step closer. If our audience, our stakeholders, are able to see our purpose, they can better connect and understand the story we are trying to convey. You want your sustainability communications strategy to be like a story that stakeholders constantly look forward to seeing.

A Story with Purpose

Purpose and meaning kickstart sustainability communications strategies. These are essentially the goals and objectives a business has for sustainable development. Tying this with your communications plan entails developing a sustainability story that effectively shows your progress and performance, whether it be through infographics, articles, or marketing and sales strategies. Bringing purpose to your sustainability story makes it more genuine and full of intent. There are many ways to tell a sustainability story, from its visuals to its words. Here are just a few to give you a headstart.

Give Yourself A Protagonist

Every story has a hero, a main character that audiences want to get to know. By having a protagonist to root for, audiences are able to root themselves better in your story. This gives your sustainability strategy a face. Your sustainability initiatives become more recognizable, drawing attention to the impact it drives and the dedication the business has towards sustainability. 

Depending on your angle, this face could fall under a wide range of people. They could be the ones building the story or the people impacted by your story. For example, you can have content focused on product designers and engineers innovating towards circular packaging. You can talk about supply chain and logistics teams working on reducing transportation emissions. You can share employee stories related to initiatives focused on engagement, and learning and development. You can highlight stories on partner communities and how your work has led both parties towards sustainable development. 

A protagonist drives purpose. From grassroots approaches to the inner workings of the business, centering a sustainability story on the people who build and are impacted by sustainability can make a story feel more authentic and genuine.

Feature What Matters

There are many elements to a story. There are subplots and different settings, multiple characters and key figures. You want to squeeze everything out in your communications strategy, but it is important to know how to properly structure your story. You can’t condense everything into one section or chapter. You can’t introduce all characters at once. 

Mapping out your sustainability story can be overwhelming. The topics you might want to talk about are extensive, from embracing renewable energy to minimizing waste. One way to overcome this issue is to reflect on your material sustainability issues and feature pressing issues where you can deliver meaningful impact to both your business and your stakeholders.

While a sustainability report can cover all fronts of your sustainability performance for the year, communicating your endeavors across the calendar in different platforms requires thoughtful planning. For example, food and beverage companies could feature stories on their progress towards sustainable sourcing or waste reduction. A transportation company or an automobile company can showcase their transition towards renewable energy or electric vehicles. By giving a spotlight on the most relevant matters your business or industry faces, audiences, especially consumers and investors, may increase their interest and trust in your company.

Emphasize The Action

Now that you have a protagonist and an idea, it’s time to focus on what your business does for sustainable development. Audiences like stories that keep them interested and engaged. Your sustainability story is a blank page if no action or progress is laid out. Highlighting action ensures audiences are aware that you are dedicated to the goals and targets you initially set out to achieve. 

Stakeholders want to know about concrete plans and how far ahead you are in your sustainability journey. Through focusing on purposeful action, a business is able to bring impact to relevant areas. When plotting your sustainability story, it is best to ensure that your initiatives build to the bigger picture. Having purposeful action supports your goals and brings you closer to sustainable development.


Make use of different mediums to tell your story. Be creative on how you convey your performance. Through the right visual cues, audiences can be drawn to the message of your sustainability story. A good sustainability communications strategy needs to be understandable by large audiences. 

Visualizing your data and highlighting key points can easily push your message across. Remember: not everybody in your audience has the same level of understanding on sustainability-related issues. Audiences would want images or graphics that they can connect or associate with your story. In a digital landscape, distinct visuals and design will help your story stand out, benefiting your business and also boosting general awareness on sustainability.

Facing Plot Holes, Pitfalls, Highs, and Lows 

No story follows a straight line or a continuous rise to the top. Every protagonist goes through their own hardships. Strategies may not usually follow the timeline initially set. The stories we tell may not have the satisfying endings we seek. 

Authenticity also means having to acknowledge weaknesses and shortcomings. When sharing your sustainability performance, it’s good to also address the issues faced and how your business tackles or plans to resolve the problem. Becoming a sustainable business is not an easy feat. It requires patience amidst each edit and iteration as society responds to the changing environment. There is a need for balance. While it feels great to showcase your accomplishments, you also need to be honest about your setbacks.

When facing these setbacks, it is important to be transparent with your audience rather than risk your business of being accused of greenwashing. Feature the ways your business will move forward from this. Anchor your message on purpose and continuous improvement. This not only shows that you are determined in making the initiative towards sustainability but this also can help reassure your stakeholders and the general public that there is progress in sustainability, that amidst uncertainties and volatility, key players in driving positive change are not giving up on this fight.

Communicating With Intent

An effective sustainability communications strategy is able to achieve many things. For a business, this contributes to strengthening brand reputation and engaging stakeholders. Yet beyond these goals, talking about progress towards sustainability takes audiences away from growing anxieties and feelings of helplessness tied to the state of the environment.

Not everybody is an expert in climate change, biodiversity, or in sustainability as a whole. Yet talking about sustainability alone can impact audiences. A business plays a critical role in steering collective action, enthusiasm, and confidence towards sustainable development. Awareness becomes a foundation for a future geared towards sustainability.

As a business, it is important to be transparent about communicating your sustainability story. Careful planning and thoughtful messaging can prevent your business from greenwashing and better feature the sustainable impact your business has. By centering your story on purpose, intention, and authenticity, you are able to connect with your audience and become a champion for sustainability.

At Keslio, we are deeply passionate about sustainability, equipping us with the expertise and extensive network needed to guide clients through their sustainability journey effectively and efficiently. Our expertise is particularly valuable for companies looking to embed sustainability practices into their businesses and investors looking to integrate ESG and impact into investment portfolios. To learn more about how Keslio can assist your organization on its sustainability journey, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

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