For over 40 years, Patagonia has inspired environmental change. They've done it through courage of conviction in their mission. Passionate about rock climbing and nature, founder Yvon Chouinard established Patagonia in 1973.
Their mission is to resonate with an audience who has a vested interest in exploring nature, and preserving it. Patagonia's brand vision is to "build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, and use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis." And the bigger they get, the more good they can do. By being clear about this intention, Patagonia generates a feeling of positive action amongst its customers.
Last year, Patagonia revised their mission statement to the bold declaration: “We’re in business to save our home planet.” Their bigger than life business mission, well orchestrated with their marketing team, made them one of the most talked about advertising pieces of 2022.
The Value of Patagonia’s Enduring Visual Style
Patagonia's logo and minimal visual style has been largely unchanged since the 1970s. They're not a massively aesthetic brand. Instead, they focus on function over form. Patagonia proves you don't always need flashy visuals or loud marketing to put your purpose across. Their simple aesthetic complements their environmental mission. Regardless of whether a business is small or global, placing purpose at the center helps to build an impact and resonate with their audience.
One part of their visual style that's key is the use of photography. Relying on striking shots of nature, their photos have become iconic. See people in the wilderness, and you automatically get thinking about freedom and escapism. For a brand centered on enjoying and protecting nature, the visuals really work.
They reinforce Patagonia's brand without saying a word. Photography is a smart investment because of how impactful and accessible it is, even with a modest budget.
Sustainability is the Heart of Patagonia
Patagonia has used sustainable and recycled materials since 1985. Their products are built for durability to minimize waste. In 2011, they launched their "Don't Buy This Jacket" campaign. By discouraging overconsumption, they were putting their money where their mouth was. Instead, customers would repair and reuse gear to extend it's lifespan. A counter-intuitive tactic from a profit standpoint shows that Patagonia takes its values seriously. It was an ethical decision that turned out to be one that was very good for business.
Not every business is willing to go this far. But there are sustainable choices you can make that align with your purpose. Even small initiatives create noticeable effects that compound when it comes to brand perception. And Patagonia's impact-driven decisions have achieved this, building enduring customer loyalty and trust in the brand.
Reinforcing The Brand Through Storytelling
Patagonia is a master of brand storytelling. Their stories of adventure, environmental activism and corporate responsibility connect with customers. They recently launched a storytelling hub featuring interviews with activists, scientists and customers. Stories draw us in and help us understand a brand's values and purpose.
"Patagonia has inspired fierce loyalty in its customers through its authentic commitment to sustainability and the environment." - Entrepreneur
Patagonia donates 1% of sales to grassroots environmental organizations. Their employees volunteer over 4,000 hours each year for environmental causes. In 2016, their "Black Friday Pledge" donated 100% of sales to environmental organizations chosen by customers. The initiative was a great way to empower their community and reinforce their values.
Last year, Patagonia revised their mission statement to the bold declaration: "We're in business to save our home planet."
They're a leading brand that takes a stand on social issues that matter to their purpose. It gives smaller businesses courage to speak up.
A Community and a Corporation As One
Patagonia builds their brand presence by engaging with the community. Through their email marketing and social media, customers gain a spotlight into how they can get involved. Patagonia shares stories of people advancing the change we need to see in the world. Each of these stories are fascinating, even if you’re not an avid environmentalist. Patagonia shows that brands can champion customer passions, and not just push products. A smart marketing-yet-informative move.
"Patagonia's brand story is so compelling because it ties what they do as a business so closely with why they do it." - Forbes
Patagonia shows that brands can power movements when they stand for what they believe in. They affect policy and practice by showing their conviction to lead. They're an inspiration to environmentally focussed businesses. Their mission-focused model is one small businesses can emulate to build brands that matter. Simply put, their brand shapes culture. They remind us of the change that visionary brands can inspire.