Environmental protection or marketing trick - what does sustainability really mean for a company?

Greenwashing describes this situation exactly - companies create the impression of being more environmentally friendly than they actually are. Through the targeted use of various marketing or PR methods, they aim to polish up the external image of their brand.

Greenwashing can quickly become a downfall, especially in live communication. At various trade fairs, conferences and other events, participating companies try to advertise their events as environmentally friendly or sustainable, for example by using recyclable materials or claiming that their event is "green", but are there really substantial environmental protection measures behind this, i.e. good practice in terms of sustainability?

Holtmann+ is positioning itself clearly and strongly: they are showing how serious they are about sustainability. The company has enlisted the help of a team of experts to ensure that it is not greenwashing from the outset and that its authentic sustainability communication is convincing.

Since 2023, we have had a close partnership with Coool Agency GmbH, referred to below as coool, the "creative agency for the 1.5°C economy". They have set themselves the goal of helping companies to realise the potential of their climate transition - with the key of good communication.

To address this for Holtmann+, coool helped the LiveCom expert to develop customised sustainability communication. The main focus was on establishing the element of sustainability in all existing brand dimensions, creating a credible basis and developing a narrative that is both authentic and activating.

But how can this be achieved?

For Holtmann+, sustainability is not an add-on, but a further dimension of action that meaningfully complements all others. Sustainability is consistently considered from the initial idea through to implementation. By anchoring sustainability in the company as early as the conception phase, it is given a correspondingly substantial status.

In order to support the company's commitment to sustainability with concrete action, Holtmann+ is on the path to ISO 20121 certification. This process is seen as an important building block in the company's sustainability journey, as it demonstrates a way in which the company can integrate and implement sustainability along the entire live communication value chain. It takes into account the company's internal goals and measures, but also references project-related processes, thus forming a holistic basis.

By defining a sustainable value proposition, the company wants to clearly demonstrate, both internally and externally, the importance it attaches to the topic. The company's own understanding of sustainability as an ability to positively shape the future is thus clearly defined and the company's ideas, approaches and visions in the area of sustainability are set out.

"With Holtmann+ you are one sustainable step ahead". With the Sustainable Value Proposition, Holtmann+ demonstrates the sustainability promise it makes to its customers, namely to explore and implement more sustainable solutions together with its customers and thus achieve measurable progress.

In order to achieve credibility and trust, a special focus on internal sustainability communication increases the commitment of employees, expands their level of knowledge and thus generates intrinsic motivation for sustainable action within the company. A clear target image and momentum is created in line with the guiding principle of "inside out".

But what are target definitions without tangible measures?

Transparency with clear facts and figures is fundamental to credible communication. However, communication that is sustainable and creates credibility requires authenticity above all. Holtmann+ aims to achieve this through unaffected communication on existing sustainability issues at eye level.
Holtmann+ sees a shift from success stories to "stories of success" as a key to this.
Success stories tend to present only the positive results and achievements, without taking into account the challenges, setbacks and learning processes involved. This can lead to a distorted picture and give the impression that sustainability is simple and easy to achieve. In contrast, stories of success focus on highlighting the process and efforts behind the successes. They show not only the goals achieved, but also the obstacles overcome, the lessons learnt and the ongoing efforts made to promote sustainability. In this way, stories of success provide a more realistic and authentic representation of the sustainability journey.
By telling stories of success, organisations can not only celebrate their achievements, but also make their efforts more transparent and encourage others to follow similar paths. These stories can also help to raise awareness of the challenges and challenges associated with promoting sustainability and show that it is still possible to bring about positive change.

The best way to achieve real change is to approach it together.
This requires an active dialogue. For this reason, Holtmann+ focuses on dialogue when it comes to sustainability. Whether with customers, partners or employees, it always makes sense to engage in dialogue in order to develop more sustainable solutions together. One example of this is an internal sustainability event in which Holtmann+ used a day in January 2024 to take a closer look at the core topic. The entire team received valuable input, including from Tobias Kollmann, CEO at coool. Colleagues were also able to discuss the topic of sustainability in depth and worked in small groups to develop sustainable trade fair stand concepts, for example.

Nobody achieves sustainability overnight.
There is still no universal solution for sustainability, neither globally nor for the live communication sector. Rather, it is about getting a little bit better every day. The essence of many perspectives, ideas and impulses can be gained through constant dialogue. Holtmann+ aims to develop customer-specific sustainability concepts that harmonise the company's purpose, corporate sustainability and that of its live communication.

The main goal of live communication is to strengthen customer relationships through authentic, unforgettable encounters. At the same time, Holtmann+ wants to actively support sustainable action and thus create experiences that inspire in both senses of the word.