In Conversation with Natalie Dean-Weymark from Compass Studio.

Erin Stafford


March 19, 2024

This journal article is taken from a special edition episode in celebration of B Corp Month, held annually every March. This episode is part of Compass Studio’s podcast series “In Conversation”, and this time hosted by Erin Stafford, Senior Digital Marketing Manager at Compass Studio.

Having completed the business impact assessment, certified, and re-certified Compass Studio as a B Corp, Nat has a wealth of experience in this space. She's navigated communicating B Corp certification both internally and externally as Compass, and now she's helping other brands to do the same. If you're an aspiring, existing or re-certifying B Corp, this one's for you.

Read on, or listen here 👇

Q: In the spirit of B Corp Month and participating in the B Corp community, we're here to chat about how to tell your people and the world that you're a B Corp. Would you like to introduce this topic a little? 

A: Compass has been a B Corp for around four and a half years. We proudly re-certified last year and I also work with a whole host of brands to kind of talk about their B Corp certification in the market, both internally and externally. 

Q: As a freshly certified B Corporation, who do you tell? 

A: We always say to brands, hold fire on that email because, as we all know, becoming a B Corp takes time, resources, a lot of people power, and by the time you finally get there, you just want to shout it from the rooftop. Especially hold fire on your external announcement and ensure you tell your people first because your people are the ones who are going to have to advocate for it, understand it and will be working differently. Becoming a B Corp essentially changes the DNA of your business, it changes the process and policies, the ways of working. It's really essential that those people are your biggest advocates when it comes to B Corp. 

Q: Who is it within the business that needs to know?

A: Usually it's a small and concentrated team of people who work on certification. It might be a sustainability manager, a founder or CEO, maybe the marketing manager is privy to it. Everyone else may not even know what a B Corp is. It's really important that you don't only extend this kind of messaging and education to your leadership team, but the whole business from point of sale to your mid-weight to your leadership. 

Q: How long do you typically wait to announce internally?

A: When we re-certified, we actually held off telling our team for three months because we were waiting for the right opportunity to truly celebrate it. We knew what a milestone it was for Compass and we knew how much and we wanted to really go into the detail of our BIA. We wanted to show our team how we scored, on what areas and where we still had to go. We wanted them to really understand it before we started talking about it to our external audience. 

Q: What is a common mistake for brands in communicating their certification as a B Corp? 

A:  In the purpose space, we get stuck in our bubble, we can so easily think that the world is how our algorithm suggests it is. B Corp is definitely growing in awareness and popularity, but not everyone knows what it is or, more importantly, why it matters. It's really important to not only share your certification but also what it is to your specific brand and make that part of your ongoing comms plan. It should become part of your content strategy. 

Q: What are those key touch points that you need to have externally if we've got that all under wraps internally? 

A: I always suggest that the brand speak directly to their own audiences first. That’s when you have to find the right words of what it means to your brand. A newsletter is a really good place to start because that's personalised messaging on the fact that you're a B Corp. From there, I think being incorporated in your impact pillar and in your content schedule. If the budget stretches for a campaign around your impact, especially if you haven't been known as an impact-focused brand beforehand maybe because you haven't had the certifications, and now you do.

I really recommend dedicating time to this as you would any other launch. If that's not within your budget, the key touch points are to let your people know or people extending beyond the internal of your company, let your customers know and maybe what that means to their future purchases.

Q: B Corp certification often changes a lot behind the scenes, and if it's not changing anything necessarily about the product to the end consumer, how much do they need to know about what's happened to attain B Corp certification? 

A: We know consumers are looking for sustainable options. We know their value system comes into how they choose to spend and their brand preferences. That certification is a way to build those messages into your content plan in a credible way. I think for example, you may stack really well on people, maybe you can embed that into your EVP. Or, if you know the environment is an area where you really have scored well, maybe you break that down for the consumer and tell them what that actually means in terms of their end product that arrives on their doorstep. 

If you don't score well in a particular area, this isn't something you should shy away from. Use this point to continually communicate your progress. Don't shy away from where you have to go and where you still have to go to improve. I think that the ethos of certifying in the first place - is the point of transparency. I do see a lot of value in giving a little bit more than just simply ‘we’re B Corp certified’. 

I see such value in communicating your B Corp certification well. It shows not only where you're doing amazingly as a brand, but also where you still have to go.

Q: Who are the most aspirational B Corps in terms of communicating exactly what that impact looks like?

A: Stone and Wood, they've been a B Corp for a long time and keep in mind who their audience is. They're an alcohol brand, but they've educated their audience so well on what that means and their point of difference that they now put the B Corp certification logo on their advertising. 

There's brands like Boody who use B Corp certification on their packaging. Aesop who do it in their job ads even. I saw Spell on my feed this morning and they announced that they were B Corp certified and they just did such a good job. I encourage everyone to have a look at it. To actually say what that specifically meant to them and their product and how they achieved it, I thought that is a really good example of a brand doing it really well. Our good friends at Harvey are always a good B2B example to look at. They do excellent impact reports. They talk about their sustainability efforts so transparently and specifically where they have to go. 

Q:  Is there a couple of ingredients that brand managers should be looking to establish in terms of their comms plan before chatting about this externally? 

A: Yes. We always say, don't just automatically default to ‘we're a B Corp because we're for people and the planet’. That is the most highly used statement. It doesn't really mean much internally to your stakeholders. It kind of seems like a checkbox. Externally, it's been overused. I think nail down a few sentences of what it means to your brand. Specifically, I could tell you what being a B Corp means to Compass that is unique to Compass and no one else. That's what I need to be comfortable with sharing internally and externally. 

Q: How frequently should a brand be mentioning their certification after the fact? 

A: I think it just depends on your content schedule and how often you talk about impact. I would say you should be mentioning your certifications, plural, at least once a month. You can kind of interweave that messaging amongst other announcements.

Q: Can brands expect their customers, their industry peers, the media to really care about their certification? 

A: "It’s not your customer's job to care about this - it's your job to make them care about it."

It's our job as an industry to make our consumers choose better. We can't expect them to care about it unless you really care about it. You give them the tools to care about it, to understand it, to share it, to advocate for it. In our B Corp strategies, we use the ‘BBQ statement’. Say someone is talking about your brand at a barbecue and mentions you're a B Corp and the other person says ‘what's a B Corp?’ You want your consumer to be able to answer that question for you.

Q: What about the media? What can we realistically expect? 

A: Earlier in this chat, I suggested an impact-related campaign. B Corp certification itself isn't probably going to get much dedicated media mention. There's a lot of B Corps in Australia and New Zealand now and the media can't feature dedicated announcements to all of them. Making it part of a bigger impact strategy is key. What steps your company has taken towards sustainability, towards impact, towards purpose, and certification is an outcome of that. Maybe there's a bigger story to be told about what had to change internally in order for you to achieve that certification. 

Q: When we're talking about beyond that initial certification, one really important thing to note is the fact that as a B Corp, you have to re-certify every three years. Is there any advice that you have for brands going through this process?

A: My biggest tip to brands who certify would be keep checking in on your BIA. Assign an internal committee to improvement so when you do re-certify, you can talk about all the ways you've changed, all the goals that you've hit, all the impact that you've made. That requires almost continuous monitoring throughout the three years. Throughout that process, if there was one particular pillar that you didn't score so highly on, maybe you've had the opportunity to take your consumers on that journey of improvement and kept them in the loop in terms of what's changing for you to improve your impact along the way.

I actually love the BIA. I'm really passionate about it, that it makes you a better business. I'm so happy in hindsight that Compass re-certified in the first instance at our three year mark because I think that going through that BIA made us a better business right from the start. You know exactly where you have to go, use it as a roadmap. This is a free thing to do that measures you against the best businesses in the world so I would say to all those aspiring B Corps just get on and do your BIA see how you go.

Q: What are you reading at the moment? 

A: I read a lot of fiction. I'm a very passionate reader and I'm really conscious of only existing in an impact bubble. The best way for me to experience different worlds and different perspectives is through fiction.

"I think as storytellers, we need to creatively engage in words and how they make people feel. Authors and writers like to deliberate and pour into every single word choice. I think as marketers, we need to do that more. We need to care more about words."

Q: Who are you listening to?

A: So Book Chat, posted by Pandora Sykes. She's amazing and it kind of is exactly as it suggests. It goes into a deep dive of themes in mostly fictional writing. How I Work by Amantha Imber is more a work -focused one. It takes the best CEOs and founders in the world and dives into how they work. I'm a bit of a productivity hack enthusiast and I just love knowing the intricacies of how people plan their day. Wiser Than Me, which is one that I've recently got into, which interviews older women and it's kind of like schooling younger women on how to live full and meaningful lives. As marketers, in order to truly respond to communities and consumers we need to be across the world as it is. So ‘The Quickie’ is a really good way to kind of stay up to date on the news in an engaging way.

Q: What voices are you following? 

A: I love Mia from Campaign Del Mar and Odette from Hack Your Own PR. They've got brilliant brains and they've got really usable insights. They're two voices that I always share with my team. I absolutely love a SubStack called Practicing Simplicity for just managing the living well and working well balance. I listen a lot to our partners, our B Corp community, my team. I'm really lucky that I'm surrounded by a lot of good voices to listen to.

Q: Are there any parting words that you have for anyone listening? 

A: Do your BIA and if you are certified redo your BIA. Check back in on those to see how you're doing and if you're doing well - think about sharing it. Think about how you can show progress there to your community. Show that you're trying, show that you're engaged, show that you know that you're on the journey. 

Like what you read? Listen to the full episode podcast with Natalie Dean-Weymark and Erin Stafford here or read more from our other In Conversation guests over on the Compass journal here.

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