Sustainability is not the purpose of your brand (check out Laurie’s exceptional positioning of this here). However, sustainability programmes benefit from clarity of purpose, as they often lose their focus over time and lack connection to what drives business performance. Without a clear business case, most sustainability programmes will fail or suffer from lack of commitment. 

Following on from the impact of our work on Coffee Made Happy, we were asked to meet with Mondelēz International's team responsible for the Harmony programme. As a biscuit maker, home to beloved brand LU, wheat is an essential ingredient to the business. Harmony was established as a sustainability "charter" - a set of guiding principles to help European wheat farmers take care of their land and crop.

While the charter has been a success in supporting better farming practice, Harmony has been difficult to communicate internally and to the consumer. Our task was to equip the Harmony team with the ability to sell the programme to their own business - allowing Mondelez to continue to back their commitments. 

We recommended stripping Harmony back to its core purpose and aligning the programme to business goals. Harmony's charter had focussed on the WHAT - what was missing, was the WHY.

Our process started by asking the team to reflect on why the programme started in the first place in order to capture the authentic ambition of Harmony. This purpose needed to describe the direction and bring meaning to what Harmony stands for. True to its name, what we found was that the strength of the programme lived in the way Mondelez created a way of working together with multiple stakeholders - from growing the wheat to baking the biscuit.

"This process has really helped us believe in where we are going” - Julie Levet

We discovered that the Harmony approach of working in partnership with farmers facilitated a shift in the supply chain, impacting on farming environments and the quality of Mondelez biscuits - providing clear links to drivers of business success. 

Simplifying the Harmony strategy lead to a more compelling story, one that could be translated for any stakeholder audience.

One key breakthrough for the team was the realisation that Mondelēz was not the hero in the Harmony story. Corporate brands often make the mistake in painting themselves as the virtuous shining example of responsibility in order to use sustainability increase their reputation with consumers. Harmony had always avoided this, and so communication of the programme was even more difficult without a strong voice. Who was Harmony? How did it share its success when it was reliant on so many actors in a supply chain?

“What we have now works - I no longer get confused faces when I try to explain what Harmony is and why it is important to the business” - Eoghan Crawford

With a renewed sense of purpose for Harmony, the team began to see Mondelēz's role in wheat production as a creator of an ecosystem. The Harmony story must be told through the voices of the people that made the programme successful, sharing their pride for wheat farming to make good quality biscuits. This shift will allow for a deeper connection between the good work that Harmony does on sustainable agriculture, the farmer, and the lover of biscuits.

Written by Jeff Melnyk on Oct 05, 2016