I had an interesting conversation with Julian Borra, founder of The Thin Air Factory, this week on how poor most businesses are at making sustainability real. He talks about the problem in an article in Sustainable Brands called The Rise of the Scratchcard Brand.

Over lunch Julian talked passionately about the need, in our transparent world in which any dubious claims to sustainability can be easily unpicked and decried, for businesses to ensure authenticity and alignment from the supply chain through to the public face of the brand.

In the world of the Scratch Card Brand, the average Jane and Joe can now easily scrape the shiny surface of a brand to reveal all manner of things beneath — either the gold of product and service experiences, rewards, community and a purposeful and authentic conscience at work to mutual benefit, or toxic shockers, rights abuses, dodgy ingredients, shabby operational impacts, abdication of responsibility or, worst of all, corporate indifference to the suffering or injustices of others involved in their pursuit of profit.

All too often, Julian argues, the people responsible for the brand communication refuse to talk to the people responsible for the supply chain. That’s where the brand story comes apart…With the internet and social media making it easier than ever for consumers to get to the operational truth that lies beneath a brand’s communication, and share that truth instantly and widely, it is crucial for businesses to align their sustainability agenda throughout the organisation.