Friday, April 6, 2012

Kodak Sustainability Journey: Fear of Corporate Death as a Catalyst for Change

Eastman Kodak Co. is a good example of a striving to survive with the help of sustainability. Companies relate to sustainability in different ways, but whether they are trying to maintain the position of their brand or trying to resurrect themselves from the dead, engaging sustainability is a competitive necessity and ultimately a matter of survival.

Ahead of government regulation and even popular demand, corporate sustainability is now weaving its way into strategic business decisions that are influencing everything from manufacturing processes to marketing communications.

As explained in a Sustainable Brands article, “Companies increasingly recognize that a proactive stance on sustainability is becoming a competitive necessity in attracting investors, employment talent and supply chain partners, as well as customers.”

Every company deals with a unique set of circumstances. But whether a company is leading or faltering, engaging sustainability is a way to maintain a strong market position or as in the case of Kodak, a way to resurrect a dying brand.

To help direct its sustainability journey Kodak hired a Chief Sustainability Officer (CSO) in 2010.

Companies that proactively engage sustainability are rewarded while companies that ignore sustainability are punished. This holds true for Eastman Kodak, which is being forced to reinvent itself by the changing marketplace. The company is radically changing its product offerings and its culture of complacency as a matter of survival.

As reviewed in a Triple Pundit article, Kodak is already teetering on the brink, to raise capital they are close to selling off some of their lucrative patents, and they have one year to submit a reorganization plan to bankruptcy court.

Kodak is fighting for its life. To help its chances of survival the company is replacing its 70 year old logo. In an effort to break with the past, Kodak's new corporate logo strives to communicate a cutting-edge, 21st century innovator.

Sustainability is a defining part of business in the 21st century and with that in mind the 120-year-old film company is rebirthing itself as a digital imaging company.

Through its partnership with Natcore Technologies, Kodak is also investing in inexpensive patented thin-film solar technology, specifically flexible solar cells, through, a New Jersey-based startup. The solar cells cost as little as half as much as traditional thin film solar cells to manufacture.

These are bold move for Kodak, but it will need to make similar strong committments to sustainability if it is to regain its foothold.

© 2012, Richard Matthews. All rights reserved.

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