Creative communication: it’s powerful stuff – and it’s a driving force behind the growing momentum and success of the sustainability movement. But just how can one harness the power of creative communications, and transform complex information into a universally understood message for further successes in the sustainability sphere?

Exploring this challenge was at the heart of South Pole’s recent breakfast seminar in Stockholm.

A few weeks ago, our South Pole team in Sweden had the great pleasure of hosting Jakob Trollbäck as a guest at the breakfast seminar, “Creative communication for a more sustainable world.”

Representing his team at Trollbäck+Company – the brains behind the 17 Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) icons, Trollbäck was joined by some of our South Pole clients; leading Nordic insurer, 'If' Insurance, commercial packaging business, Avisera, as well as Hussustainability representing Swedish travel agency, Världens Resor.

Together, we discussed various aspects of sustainability, focussing on the role of creative communications in driving sustainability by digesting complicated, often scientific information into something easily understood by stakeholders.

The focus was on how effective and powerful sustainability communication can engender commitment, thereby acting as a catalyst for positive change. We explored some of the virtually limitless possibilities for communicating creatively at the event, coming away with one overarching message: simplicity is key.

Trollbäck spoke about the importance of the core message of the SDGs, emphasising the power of, and opportunities for, promoting simplicity without losing value and the original message.

Also known as the Global Goals, the SDGs and their well-recognised, colourful icons are an excellent example of extremely effective creative communications. The work that Trollbäck and the team at Trollbäck+Company have done in formulating the messaging of the 17 SDGs and their 169 accompanying subgoals is, as one might suspect, quite extensive.

Trollbäck illustrated how the goals and subgoals are tangible, and influence each other through various interconnections. At the same time, their graphical representation gives them a second, visual dimension, enhancing their communication potential. Without the hurdles of scientific language, the icons constitute a simple yet effective means of reaching out on a global stage.

Jakob Trollbäck presenting how the 17 SDGs and their subgoals are tangible and interconnected

Jakob Trollbäck presenting how the 17 SDGs and their subgoals are tangible and interconnected

This concept – that simplicity is key, was shared by all participants, who echoed Trollbäck’s emphasis that a clear and simple message goes a long way in communicating their own sustainability commitments.

Avisera, for example, has strengthened their sustainability communications with different products that clearly convey their engagement, such as their recycled, carbon neutral bag. This enables customers who purchase these products to clearly convey their own personal sustainability ambitions, whilst also showing the stakeholders they supply that Avisera as a company and its products adhere to the principles of reduce, reuse, recycle. All of this is achieved through clear but creative messaging that communicates and creates value simultaneously.

Världens Resor also implements simple and creative messaging in communicating its sustainability story. As the first travel agency to offset its climate impact, Världens Resor communicates its sustainability commitments as a way to preserve the pristine environments of the destinations that their customers travel to, safeguarding them for future generations. The notion that “To lower your environmental impacts is to show respect to your destination” follows on from their mission: to create safe and responsible trips that they would like to go on themselves.

Hussustainability highlighted the potential for internal education to enhance creative communication, referring to the old saying, ‘practice makes perfect,’ leading to new insights and the renewed ability to inspire others – as well as increasing one’s own knowledge.

‘If’ Insurance follows the practice of ‘living as they teach,’ which follows the precautionary principle. In combination with their business partners, the company has created a platform to highlight the potential environmental impacts of climate change on their customers' houses and how they can minimise them, as a way of communicating and portraying their sustainability efforts.

In summary, our breakfast seminar had two key takeaways:

First of all, that creative communication is extremely powerful force for galvanising positive, meaningful changes in behaviour, and the success of Trollbäck+Company’s 17 SDG icons in the sustainability space is a powerful example of this.

The success of the SDGs is also testament to the second takeaway from the event; the importance of simplicity – a condensed message that is accessible to a broad audience goes a long way for stakeholders.

Creative communication, with its potential to transform the complex into something simple and comprehensible, has become a powerful tool for sustainability and sustainable development – and the opportunities opened up by creative communications are limitless.

Inspired, but not sure where to start? South Pole offers a range of marketing and communications services to suit and boost every sustainability journey – click here to learn more.