ESG. Effective activation depends on strategy

Image of hands grabbing principles

By Darren Lassiter, Managing Partner and Head of Client Services at Arthur

Right now, ESG is an industry buzzword – a rallying cry for businesses to adopt better Environmental, Social and Governance standards and embrace responsibility and sustainability. 

Yet the troubling reality is that ESG often wanders aimlessly between corporate, HR, and marketing functions, lacking any real sense of cohesion and clarity. This lack of alignment isn't just an internal issue. If a brand is juggling multiple conversations at once – each one sending out a different message – this inconsistency is clearly visible to outsiders and can seriously undermine trust and credibility.

All too often, ESG falls into the laps of marketing teams, burdened with crafting a narrative without a clear strategic roadmap. It's like building a house without foundations. Yet at the other extreme, some companies turn ESG into their very purpose – and this approach can also bring challenges. 

Noble in intent, tricky in reality

Firstly, ESG isn't always relevant to every part of an organisation. Trying to force-fit it can dilute the message and lead to accusations of greenwashing or social washing.

Secondly, the impact a company has on the world must be genuine and deeply ingrained in its culture. Authenticity is key – anything less opens the door to scepticism.

And thirdly, materiality matters. Every business has ESG issues that are more important to business performance and internal stakeholders, so understanding what truly matters is key. There's no one-size-fits-all approach – ESG strategies must be tailored to fit the organisation's circumstances.

To navigate these challenges, the best brands leverage their most powerful asset: their brand essence. ESG isn't just about ticking boxes – it's about aligning and integrating with core values that inspire trust and loyalty.

Our approach to embedding ESG

At Arthur, we understand the complexities of ESG integration. We help clients distil their ESG strategy into a single organising idea, aligning senior stakeholders and commercial objectives. By embedding ESG into the brand identity and culture, we ensure consistency across all touchpoints and the engagement of all stakeholders, encouraging business growth and meaningful change.

In conclusion, ESG isn't a tickbox or passing trend – it's a fundamental shift in how businesses operate. To succeed, organisations must move beyond tactics and embrace a strategic approach that aligns with their purpose and values. Only then can they truly harness the power of ESG to create a positive impact and build a sustainable future for their business.

Contact Darren Lassiter to talk your ESG value proposition and messaging framework.

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