From our first conversation with Logitech, the Swiss computer hardware brand, it was clear that a sustainability report was never going to be just a report. Nor an exercise in self-aggrandisement or corporate bureaucracy.
When the organisation approached us in 2017, it had made an ambitious commitment toward an entirely sustainable design model. So called ‘cradle-to-cradle manufacturing’ was a term first coined in the 1980s by Swiss architect Walter R Stahel. It means using only recycled materials to make new products. Simple in theory, not so easy in practice.
As a global brand whose computer mice and keyboards are ubiquitous across the world, Logitech hasn’t taken its responsibilities lightly. So, naturally its sustainability team were keen to explore how they’d communicate their commitment to the principle they hold as dearly as innovation. Without falling into the greenwash trap.
We wanted to tell a story about sustainability that would resonate with employees, suppliers, customers and consumers alike.
We sensed a genuine passion across the company for making its products better for people and the planet. Drawing on this energy and enthusiasm would be essential in bringing to life their ambitious journey.
“The report was a requirement of our investment in sustainability and in communities. But from the point of engagement with Neo, we knew it could be much more,” says Robert O’Mahony, head of global sustainability.
“We wanted to tell a story about sustainability that would resonate with employees, suppliers, customers and consumers alike.”
The idea of connection emerged from Logitech’s people-centred values, but also its approach to talking about sustainability. Its ‘footprint’ programmes aimed to reduce the company’s impact on the environment. ‘Handprint’ projects, meanwhile, sought to leave a positive mark on society.
Given that connecting people through technology is Logitech’s raison d’être, it felt like a natural starting point. And a strong human theme through which to engage audiences and convey its sense of care.
It made sense, then, for the report to focus on the people behind the projects. Documents of this ilk are often penned by legal teams, or are overly scientific, making for a dry read. If, in fact, they ever are properly read. But thankfully the Logitech team were of the same mind as us – and they felt they had nothing to hide beneath a layer of legalese.
So, with a vibrant visual treatment, we brought out the voices from within the content. The designers, engineers, environmental advisors, support staff and countless others who were in the thick of the footprint and handprint programmes. Those with the experience to talk credibly but also personally about their role in building sustainable relationships as well as products.
Bringing together contributions from a diversity of teams – consistently – is never without its challenges. Either is the painstaking process of interpreting and visualising minutely detailed data. But we find creative problems like this among the most satisfying. And working nimbly, openly and collaboratively with the Logitech team meant we could easily smooth out any bumps in the road.
From complex to clear
Meanwhile Logitech’s sustainability work was really beginning to take shape, infusing its whole production process. So it was time to up the ante on the level of insight featured in the report, and how we’d present it.
We needed complex information to be clear, compact and credible. Easy to digest. With this in mind, we developed an infographic case-study format to demonstrate the depth of Logitech’s big ideas through specific, concrete examples. Visual explainers on the anatomy of a mouse made from recycled plastic, for instance, and what exactly makes a production facility carbon-neutral.
“Developing products is an art and a science, and sustainability brings some of that science,” reflects Caroline Kennedy, senior manager of global sustainability. “Everything has a purpose. Working with Neo, we tried hard to pin that down in the report. As a result, it’s highly artistic but also highly scientific.”
Over the course of just three years, positive ripples have turned into a wave of engagement that’s feeding Logitech’s culture of sustainability.
As it turned out, one of the most difficult challenges, as creatives, was to pace ourselves. From the beginning, we were eager to do more to help Logitech achieve its sustainability ambitions.
We saw opportunities to reinvent and expand on the report in ways that would spark more engagement in, and commitment to, the vision. We knew we could reach a broader audience by deepening the stories from across Logitech’s network, including the communities that it touches. And with these we could demonstrate the company’s human heart alongside its innovative edge.
Meat on the bone
But doing things right takes time. The Logitech team were mindful of not over-promising on (or over-promoting) its sustainability goals. They wanted “meat on the bone” before shouting about their plans and activities.
As O’Mahony says: “We don’t make mad, audacious statements. Some companies say they’re committed to tackling deforestation, but then put their packaging through spurious certification.
“We’re honest about what we have and haven’t done yet. And there are some areas of our work we can’t yet talk about publicly. It’s not a gap in reporting; it’s a philosophy.”
It’s this careful approach that’s helped Logitech report on contentious issues like conflict minerals with real confidence. And in the team’s eyes, it has only made their reporting more authentic – and free from burdensome legal caveats.
Wave of engagement
While there’s plenty to build on, the report has to some extent broken the mould. It’s no longer just a report. Over the course of just three years, positive ripples have turned into a wave of engagement that’s feeding Logitech’s culture of sustainability.
“Our retailers, distributors and other business-to-business customers are taking greater interest in sustainability and beginning to challenge us about clarifying their position,” says O’Mahony.
The report is regularly referenced on specialist topics such as conflict minerals and hazardous materials. And internally it has become a powerful way to demonstrate what Logitech is doing.
“It’s whipping up a keen interest among 4,500 employees who want to work for a responsible brand. It’s not enough to say “we’re doing the right thing”; we need to show evidence,” explains O’Mahony.
“Our chief designer says he can hire the best talent because of this. And the best designers are often those who want to leave a positive mark by participating in innovation with a company that cares.”
A more confident conversation
The way the report has evolved through design has given us the confidence we need in order to share more.
The report is also changing how Logitech talk about sustainability, adds O’Mahony.
“As a bunch of engineers and scientists, we don’t often get how important it is to be succinct when we communicate. As a company, we’ve received a lot of compliments on the report. The way it has evolved through design has given us the confidence we need in order to share more.”
So, all in all, the project is already accelerating Logitech’s plans to become sustainable at its very core. Something we, as a team, hoped to be able to contribute to when we began working with the brand.
“In partnering with Neo, we wanted to work with a creative organisation with whom we could build a meaningful relationship,” says O’Mahony. “Between us we’ve found a synergy that’s allowed us to evolve from good to great.
“Our key takeaway is don’t necessarily go with biggest agency, but with a partner who resonates with what it is you want to achieve.”
Our thoughts exactly.