According to a new study released by MapChange 2010, consumers perceived 50% of the banking sector to be less sustainable than it actually is.  This leaves a significant opportunity for banks to communicate their sustainability practices to consumers in order to more fully capitalize on their efforts.

The study, conducted in partnership with Climate Counts and Angus Reid Public Opinion, ranked banks’ “actual and perceived leadership in addressing climate change.”

Climate Counts scored companies in 10 different sectors on their actual sustainability based on the “measurement of impact, reduction of impact, engagement on public policy related to climate change and openness and transparency with consumers on corporate climate activities.”

To measure consumer brand perception, Angus Reid Public Opinion conducted an online survey of 2,032 American adults and weighted the results to ensure the sample of respondents was representative of the adult American population.

For those companies that had a higher perceived sustainability than what they are actually doing in terms of climate change, there is an opportunity for them as well.  These companies can further strengthen their positive consumer perception by improving their sustainability efforts and innovating new sustainable products for those consumers.

The overall lesson?  While tackling climate change as a company is essential for sustaining business over the long-term, consumer perceptions of company efforts are equally important to maximize the financial return of sustainability initiatives.

“To compete, brands need to generate sustainable innovation quickly and communicate it effectively.” – MapChange

So what’s the best way to get the message out?

Communicating a company’s sustainability strategy both internally and externally is not always a piece of cake.  Many leaders in sustainability publish annual CSR or sustainability reports using the GRI reporting framework, in addition to traditional marketing techniques. 

Want to know more about what you can do to communicate your company’s sustainability efforts?  We can help.