Communicating Sustainability Guide
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Current climate change challenges ask for sustainability to become part of our cultural narrative. Talking about our organisation’s sustainability activities helps to normalise sustainability and make it part of day-to-day conversation. This guide helps communications professionals learn how to build a stronger sustainable brand by communicating their organisation’s sustainability activities. It gives the user a structure, insights and principles needed to develop external sustainability communications for the organisational specific situation.

Description of the tool

This guide is structured as a process to work through. The first step when designing a sustainability communication plan for an organisation is to get clear and specific about what we want to achieve. An organisation communicates to engage for action its audience, to enhance its experience or to build a brand. The process is based on a sequence of tools, such as: the Objective Map Tool, Audience Mapping Tool, Audience Profiling Tool, User Journey Mapping Tool, Measurement Framework and Message and Messaging Tool. For the best results, the creator recommend to work through the guide step by step.

Steps of application

To begin with, an organisation needs to define its objectives. For this process we use the Objective Map Tool (see the visual representation of the diagram below). After (1) drawing the diagram on a large piece of paper, we have (2) to list our organisation’ sustainability activities on post-it notes. (3) Next, follows the identification of the activities we can talk about by applying the greenwash tests to the list. The main greenwash tests are: the continual improvement test (is our organisation continually improving what it is doing in a specific area or has it done as much as it could realistically do? If the answer is yes, we can communicate the activity) and the truth test (are our claims true and presented in a way that isn’t designed to create an overly positive picture?). (4) We identify the quadrant for each activity (food, water, waste, energy, transport) and (5) the circle they sit in (circle is Engaging for Action; circle 2 represents Enhancing the Experience and circle 3 is for Building your Brand). Next step of the process involves the Audience Mapping and Prioritising Tool. It is important to think about how our sustainability activities could extend the audiences of our organisation. (1) After identifying the external audience groups for each activity in the Objectives Map, we will have to (2) prioritise them using the Audience Mapping and Prioritising Tool (visual representation below). Next in line is the understanding of the audience, with the help of the Audience Profiling Tool. The author of the guide gives us four dimensions to profile the audience taking into account: • What the audiences care about and value, • What their current attitudes are to sustainability and/or the specific issue our organisation is communicating, • Their expectations regarding our organisation, • The media channels they use. To further design our communication plan, we move to the communication channels & activities and use the following tool, The User Journey Mapping Tool, writing down: • a summary of the audience profile, • the objectives the organisation wants to focus on from the Objectives Map, • details for each objective, • list of the specific channels and activities the organisation can use to engage the audience and then, we need to prioritise the list, taking into account financial, time and other constraints. The process continues with the Measurement and evaluation Framework. The last tool used in the process is the Message and Messaging Tool. The message is what the organisation is saying and the messaging is how it says it.


Julie’s Bicycle is a London based charity that supports the creative community to act on climate change and environmental sustainability. The arts and creative industries have a leading role on environmental sustainability. Creativity and inspiration are resources for designing a greener economy, reach energy efficiency, challenge our reliance on fossil fuels, make creative use of otherwise wasted materials and open new ways to greener production and living.

Context of origin

Visual representation


Julie’s Bicycle Practical Guide: Communicating Sustainability, 2015



Julie’s Bicycle