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How to use creativity to address sustainability challenges

Change agency Futerra’s guide to sustainable communication

As part of our industry-led night school programme New Blood Shift London, the Shifters attended a workshop about sustainability communications with change agency Futerra – who help clients across the globe communicate their sustainability strategies and initiatives. They shared how we can use our collective creative powers to drive possible creative solutions for sustainability, utilise creativity to tackle climate change and corporate social responsibility for global warming, and make sustainability mainstream through communications.

Why do we need to communicate sustainability?

When it comes to sustainable communications, the images and narrative that comes to mind all centre around the idea that “We are all doomed”, from popular culture references right through to documentaries. But fear-based messaging doesn’t cause people to take action.

Futerra’s research into behaviour change studies shows that fear is the least effective motivator in terms of behaviour change. So the way in which we currently communicate about sustainability is not doing enough and needs to change, and the creative industry has an opportunity to drive social change.

The potential for brands to speak to their consumers about sustainability in marketing and advertising is huge. From a survey Futerra conducted last year, they found that 88% of consumers would like brands to help them lead a sustainable lifestyle. But sustainability communications, especially from brands, can only succeed if audiences find it relatable, and actionable, instead of much of the current messaging which is overwhelming.

Futerra, Imagine Solving Climat Change

We need to make sustainability ‘normal’ and bring it into the mainstream. But how? How can creativity drive positive change?

It’s hard for businesses to change overnight, and many are already approaching sustainability from a more strategic angle and with corporate social responsibility initiatives. In terms of the communications around sustainability, here are Futerra’s tips to consider when designing for the future of the planet:

  • Make it relevant to the audience: avoid ideas that are too clinical or hard to define, and instead focus on what is human and what is relatable
  • Think about psychographic insights like behaviour, motivation to act, and emotional reaction, not just demographics
  • Use these behavioural insights to show the benefits not just for the planet, but for the audience you are talking to. They can be functional, emotional or social
  • Treat sustainability communications in the same way you would your core brand in order to get sustainability out of a niche and bring it into mainstream culture

With these insights at your disposal, and the power to use your creativity for good when it comes to sustainable living, take a look at the New Blood Awards 2022 briefs including “Sustainability is always in style” by Do the Green Thing so you can put your ideas into practice.

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