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How Brands can fuel the Sustainability Movement and accelerate the achievement of Global Goals

Guest post by Anita Varshney, VP Strategy & Innovation at SAP Next-Gen, a Purpose Driven Innovation University (Edited by Tracy Tsang)

Leading businesses today have mastered building authentic and long-lasting emotional brand rapport with their customers. As businesses around the world join in the sustainability movement, they have the potential to empower communities and impact economies in an enormous way. By instilling a strong sense of purpose and building emotional connection with consumers, change makers are able to lead and fuel these global social movements with their brands.

With ten years remaining to fully realise the transformative 2030 agenda for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, policymakers’ unwavering attention and a laser-sharp focus on the implementation of these global goals are required now more than ever.

Global enterprise leaders can play a significant role in leading climate change initiatives and sustainable transformation. In order to make a difference at scale, every business must commit to putting communities ahead of profits, and incorporate social impact into their business above and beyond seeing it as a tick-box Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) exercise. Successful brands will be those that continue rising to the challenge to address the big picture issues humanity faces.

So how can brands help to fuel the sustainability movement? Three ways businesses can incorporate sustainability into their brand strategy and inspire businesses to go beyond the traditional role that branding and marketing typically play for businesses.

  1. Redefining brand engagement:

    Shallow engagement driven by “likes” or “retweets” will give way to real engagement. Comments signify a deeper and more meaningful engagement in general, enabling brands to start a dialogue with their community.

    Impact marketing requires going beyond selling the value proposition to selling behavioral change. When it comes to movement building, inspiring people to take action proves most effective. When others amplify your message within their own communities, it leads to greater organic reach and credibility. Whether it’s the investors or investees, the community, or employees within organizations — the collective voice can help tell the story.
  2. Brands can redefine industry standards:

    Brands focused on authentic content and not just influencers will emerge as winners. Stories built on real-life experiences and implementable ideas promote deeper engagement and an opportunity for companies to innovate, develop their own business models, products and services based on real customer use cases.

    These interactions result in lifelong customers, who will engage, give feedback, and join the brand’s innovation community. The passionate, committed employees can then use this feedback as valuable input for the next prototype or idea. This process enables customers to redefine industry standards through crowdsourcing efforts from global community members who care more about the planet and want to lead sustainable lifestyles.
  3. Brands driven by partnerships:

    When sustainable brands come together, they develop alliances within ecosystems of organizations who want to see business as a force for good. They find ways to work together, share and amplify through their networks, and exponentially grow the movement to drive behavioural change.

    Partnerships can successfully amplify messaging for small teams with lower budgets and compressed timelines, as businesses collaborate in the movement to achieve the 2030 Global Goals.

It’s time for us to build purpose into the business model itself and to go beyond a mission-driven, do-no-harm approach to actually creating new value that leaves the world a better place than it found it. Given that the Experience economy is at all-time peak, let us use brands to help maintain wealth in communities, build an inclusive economic system that creates benefit for citizens and the environment.

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You’re Invited: Innovate for Growth Podcast Launch Party + Live interview & Workshop with Tai Chi Master Chow Chin Ching

**UPDATE: Please note that this event has been cancelled due to weather condition and current political demonstrations in HK

Master Chow Chin Ching, Founder of Chen Style Tai Chi Institute will be our special guest for a live interview to celebrate the launch of the Innovate for Growth Podcast on Thursday 29 August. He will also be giving a demo performance of “Sudden Thunder” style Tai Chi followed by a short class to try it out for yourself!

Book your tickets here

Master Chow was born into a Martial Arts family as well as the 1st Inheritor of Grandmaster Chen Qin Lei, famous for the “Sudden Thunder” style of Tai Chi. He is listed by Kung Fu Celebrity Archive of Beijing as a prestigious Kung Fu Master of China. Master Chow has previously been invited to collaborate with international brands including Chanel, HSBC, Audi Formula E World Champions, Tottenham Hotspurs Football Team .

The Innovate for Growth Podcast is a show where Tracy Tsang, Founder & CEO of Internet of Stories, meets world class creators/performers/artisans, mission driven entrepreneurs, and thought leaders in growth and innovation to chat about their life journeys, creative processes, and wisdom gained from building ventures out of doing what they love.

Our goal is to empower creators and mission driven entrepreneurs to develop in a holistic way, create scalable positive social impact, while enabling their personal and professional growth as a successful creative entrepreneur.

Book your tickets here

Previous guests in Season 1 of the Innovate for Growth Podcast include:

Surmayee Tetarbe & Sam Book, Creators of the Sassy Speaks Podcast;

Alexis Bautista, Founder of Kokonuzz Media Group;

Jaime Lau, Jack Storms and Antoine Gaussin, Gallery Director & Artists from The Spectacle Group;

Helen McEachern, CEO of Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

Malcolm Ong, Head of Product at South China Morning Post.

Natalie Chan, Founder & CEO of OWN Academy

Book your tickets here

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Innovate for Growth kicks off

Innovate for Growth is an event and podcast series we recently started with the goal of building a community of the most forward thinkers in growth, innovation and content creation.

Last month we were pleased to welcome Alex Tam, Product Design Lead at MasterClass coming all the way from San Francisco to give a talk and share his experience in building remote working design and engineering teams around the world. We had an excellent Q&A session, and below are some of the takeaways from our discussion:

  • How do you keep your team motivated when working remotely? The best way is to lead a remote working team is to treat everyone as peers and be transparent about what you are trying to do as a company as well as the strategy for individual projects. Make sure that all the goals and milestones are clear, and empower your team to do their best work by making sure they have all the info you would have wanted if you were in their position.

  • On vetting the quality of remote team members when hiring – some ideas for doing this include offering a paid internship over 2-3 months, giving your candidate a problem and change it half way through to test for problem solving skills (idea from Google), test for ability to explain their ideas to other team members.

  • Communication is especially important when working with a remote team – use Slack to cut down emails by at least 50%, make sure there is 1 or 2 hours overlap between time zones reserved for daily communication, and make it ok for people to share their work in progress even if it’s not perfect.

  • Alex shared his own biggest challenges from working with remote teams when he hires the wrong person for the job and productivity suffers, realising too late that they would be happier doing something else. Other challenges to be aware of: people matter, cultural differences, keeping the team excited and motivated.

  • Is this the future of work? Tools are getting better, enabling increasingly different ways of delivering value from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. Examples of large successful companies doing remote working well: Automattic (WordPress), Invision

To watch the full presentation and Q&A session, check out the Youtube video below (audio works better with headphones):

Alex Tam – Building International Teams and How to succeed at working remotely

A big thank you to WHub for being our event partner for this seminar.

For updates on our latest talks and workshops, please subscribe to our meetup group and newsletter.

Meetup group: Innovate for Growth

For meeting other members from the community and continue discussions from our events, we also have a Slack channel .

If you’re interested in giving a talk or collaborate with us on hosting a workshop on topics related to growth, innovation or content creation, drop us an email at and we can set up a call or meeting to further discuss.