What is sustainability?
Broadly speaking, sustainability can be defined as an ongoing effort to improve the quality of human life while living within the limits of supporting ecosystems. More specifically, sustainability requires the reconciliation of environmental, social equity, and economic demands known as the three pillars of sustainability. These three pillars, more popularly referred to as the "triple bottom line," serve as the basis for various sustainability standards and certification systems and guide numerous organizations on the path to greener, more responsible ways of doing business.
In the context of the Best Global Green Brands report, sustainability can generally be defined as a business approach to creating long-term value by embracing opportunities and managing risks derived from economic, environmental and social impacts. In a commercial sense, sustainability also involves creating and maintaining a product, service, or business identity that reflects special added value in terms of environmental, and social benefits. Sustainability has proven to be a strategic and profitable aspect of business and a brand-strengthening asset, as long as organizations take measurable steps to reduce their social and environmental impact and credibly convey benefits that are relevant to consumers.
Interbrand believes that the Best Global Green Brands lie at the point where perception and performance meet. With this in mind, the methodology of Best Global Green Brands is based on assessing both market perception and actual environmental performance.
The nominees are drawn from Interbrand’s annual Best Global Brands report, which ranks the world’s 100 most valuable brands. Brands on this list have a global presence and a demonstrated record of delivering value to their stakeholders. Interbrand excludes any product brands that are perceived as distinct from their corporate parent because environmental activities are normally reported at a corporate level, while consumers are generally aware of the market-facing brand.
Deloitte assesses each brand on 82 individual sub-metrics across six pillars — Governance, Stakeholder Engagement, Operations, Supply Chain, Transportation and Logistics, Products and Services. Data is collected from publicly available sources such as annual reports, companies’ sustainability/CSR reports, responses to CDP/WDP, and the Thomson Reuters ASSET4 database.
Policies and mechanisms put in place by the company to manage environmental impacts and successfully set and execute environmental programs.
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The degree to which the company recognizes and engages with the various relevant stakeholder groups associated with the company.
The company’s performance across operations as measured in energy efficiency, GHG emissions, water management, waste management, and toxic emissions management.
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The company’s performance in measuring, reporting, and mitigating the environmental performance of their supply chain.
Transportation and Logistics
The company’s performance in measuring, reporting, and mitigating the environmental performance of their transportation and logistics, business travel and commuting.
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Products and Services
The product portfolio of the company and an evaluation of the green attributes of its products, including product efficiency, sustainable production, and use of life cycle assessment.
Interbrand conducts a survey in the 10 largest global economies (based on GDP), interviewing more than 10,000 consumers. For each brand, more than 100 people aware of the brand in each country are asked to assess it in terms of Authenticity, Relevance, Consistency, Presence, Differentiation, and their Understanding of environmental claims. These six perception pillars are equivalent to the six external brand strength components used in Interbrand’s Brand Valuation model.
Interbrand weights the individual country brand scores according to GDP and sums them across all countries to calculate a single global green perception score for each brand.
The perceived credibility of the brand’s environmental claims.
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An assessment of the relevance of brand’s environmental claims. This involves comparing the perceived importance of green activities for the category with the brand’s green perception.
How differentiated the brand’s green efforts are perceived to be relative to other competitors in the category.
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The consistency of the brand's various green communications across all touchpoints.
Consumer awareness of the brand’s green activities and its green reputation in the market.
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The level of understanding of the brand’s green activities as a whole.
Overall Green Brand Score
For brands where the standardized performance score is greater than or equal to the standardized perception score, Interbrand calculates a simple average to give an overall green brand score.
For brands where the standardized perception score is greater than the standardized performance score, Interbrand calculates a simple average and then applies a consistent discount factor based on the gap between perception and performance to give the overall green brand score. The discount factor is designed to penalize brands that are not living up to public expectations.
The final ranking is then calculated based on the extent each brand’s overall score improved or regressed relative to the prior year.
Any new entrants to the list are assigned a rank based on their current year’s score and where it would feature in the previous year’s ranking.
This approach is used to ensure that brands are credited with the prior year’s achievements and are credited with improvements to those achievements (or, alternatively, penalized for regressions). This is preferred to starting from scratch and assessing each brand afresh each year.
Interbrand also lists the gap between the 2012 performance score and the 2012 perception score. A positive score indicates a brand is doing more than it is given credit for, while a negative score indicates that a brand is being given more credit than its actions merit.