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Customers continue to fuel business case for sustainability and leaders are saying they get it

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Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most sustainable:

Helping businesses compete responsibly

Managements get it

Half do, according to a recent study:

MIT found 53 per cent of managements surveyed said sustainability initiatives have helped their companies profit.

With the wind of change at their backs, leaders changed their business model.

Policy and politcal pressure

The MIT study found that legislative or political pressure also plays a big role: 34 per cent of respondents citing the law or policy initiatives as affecting their ideas about sustainability.

People want sustainability built into an organization’s thinking.  They like the idea of sustainable products.

Two of the top three reasons leaders cite as being reasons for changing their business is the value proposition that is sustainability.

The art of listening

The automotive industry and the energy and utilities sector, often criticized for not being green enough,  finished first and second in making a business case for sustainability. Both industries were over 40 per cent.

Lagging

But technology and communications and the financial services sector scored low at 27 and 21 per cent respectively. These sectors have potential. If they’re behind, there’s opportunity for smart businesses in tech, communications and financial services to take the lead where competitors are lagging.

Publics are hard to ignore

Even companies like Apple, challenged regarding their supply chain, have invested in sustainability. The creation of their solar farm in Maiden, NC, (under pressure from environmental critics?) gives the company a positive. But Apple was recently hit with another bomb regarding its supply chain. Because of the company’s enormous cash horde, critics are unsympathetic, feeling Apple could do more.

Studies show the advantage of brands differentiating themselves through sustainable thinking.

If consumers and legislators are demanding more sustainability planning from companies, and businesses that haven’t been viewed as green traditionally are committing themselves to sustainability, can other companies afford to miss out on the potential value add?

The edge in keeping consumers happy

It seems like the pressure from consumers is something thoughtful managements have foremost in their minds.

As public relations and marketing find themselves increasingly challenged by astronomical growth in channels and tools, the obvious answer points to embracing sustainability and CSR as a strategy: Managements themselves say sustainability adds value.

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the most sustainable.

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Heavy is the crown: Is Apple its own worst enemy?

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Reputational blowback?: Apple’s litigation strategy affects its own brand and reputation

Samsung brand on the upswing

Polling by YouGov shows that Samsung has already recovered from the recent Apple v. Samsung verdict. Actually, Samsung’s “buzz score” rating has surpassed Apple’s.

Sustainability and reputation issues are dogging Apple.  Many took to Facebook and Twitter to fling abuse at the company, some saying that the brand had become everything it had once stood against.

Have you “heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or by word of mouth,” asked YouGov. The company then assigned a score depending on responses positive or negative.

YouGov’s charts are clear evidence that Samsung’s brand has risen and Apple’s has fallen.

It’s hard to gauge what effect this will have long-term, especially considering the momentum Apple has behind it, but it’s clear that its brand has taken a beating. In an August 28th post, Siri, What’s “sustainability”?, I asked questions about Apple’s strategy: Specifically, that they don’t seem to be speaking to the broader audience that now is focused, like a laser, on Apple.

On September 6th, Forbes wrote about Apple’s dive suggesting Apple’s secret talks with Google might have been strongly motivated by the reputational blowback from Apple v. Samsung, which is looking more and more like a strategic mistake.

Clearly, Apple’s campaign of aggressive litigation added to consumer’s concerns: Not to mention the sustainability of their supply chain. But is Apple listening?

Is the pattern of immense hype (hype that may have slipped out of their control) generated by Apple in the media going to increase the volume of blowback? Is Apple at or close to its zenith in profitability, or, from an investor’s point of view, the ascendency of its stock price?

Credit: Forbes

“Apple has turned into the exact product they were against in the 1984 Super Bowl Ad.”

— Twitter user

Meet the new boss. More litigious than the old boss?

Sentiment against Apple was overwhelmingly negative post-verdict. Some have seen this coming for a long time. The hype is so extreme right now as the iPhone 5 is released that it’s impossible to know what the fallout from Apple’s own self-induced reputational damage will be.

Tech consumers change their minds in what looks to a long-term investor the blink-of-an-eye. The media, while generating an immense amount of hype is also giving birth to stories that portray Apple as Goliath, a big bully, unfeeling, unthinking and a poor listener.

Apple has followed a pattern of knowing it’s right when it comes to business strategy. So far, that strategy’s worked very well, but what leadership should consider is gravity.

The weight

The gravitas of investor and consumer sentiment accumulates and acts like a social David. And we all remember what David did to Goliath. In fact, didn’t Apple base its marketing strategy on being the “little guy” taking on Goliath?

Now, David pulls back his digital sling of zeroes and ones. Take a look at how Apple’s been trending on Google+, (at the time of writing).

There’s also the fact that it looks like both HTC and Samsung will sue Apple over LTE and try to block the iPhone 5. He who lives to litigate dies by litigation?

Meanwhile, HBR points out that Google’s spending on R&D, despite what many may think, dwarfs Apple’s as a percentage of revenue. Perhaps Apple’s just giving the people what they want: Perception of innovation over actual percentage of dollars spent on innovation.

If word-of-mouth is the greatest form of marketing, the social cybersphere is talking loudly, it’s consumer-generated (though more research is needed on these consumers), and it seems to be sounding off against what it perceives to be a heavy distortion field placed over the marketplace. Perception is reality.

Regardless, satirizing Apple has become a popular sport. When will their be an app for that?

If the new standard for the anti-Apple forces is: “Innovate don’t litigate”, then Apple in pursuing an aggressive strategy of litigation may have undone some of the reputational capital it’s worked years to build. Heavy is the crown.

But also, heavy is the hype. Apple may be going down a different yet parallel road that Facebook knows all-to-well. There’s a fine line between exceptional marketing and public relations and creating the Frankenstein monster.

Still, there’s a lot of momentum for Apple. But we’ve learned that out-of-control hype can be a double-edged sword. We’ve also learned that when stock performance doesn’t meet the enormity of expectation the decline can be huge.

Facebook’s decline of 50 per cent was pretty much as large as that of BP. And Facebook didn’t leak any oil.

Still, Apple has concrete numbers.

Does Apple Marketing and Public Relations feel ecstatic about a brand that convinces people old is new (see Jimmy Kimmel)? Does this soaring rocket of hype escape Earth’s atmosphere or like Facebook fall back held by the force of gravity?

Maybe the question is simply:

Is Apple its own worst enemy?

Jimmy Kimmel Confirms People Love the New iPhone 5, Even Though They’re Being Pranked With an iPhone 4S

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