A Lesson from Patagonia on Developing Brand Values

A Lesson from Patagonia on Developing Brand Values

Keegan Sentner & Niomi Griffin

 / 

Mar 27, 2024

#BrighterFuture #Patagonia #OutdoorIndustry #PlanetDrivenBusiness

Keegan Sentner & Niomi Griffin

At the heart of every brand that dares to make a difference lies a set of core values that does more than just define the company; they inspire action.

For many reasons, Patagonia stands above the rest because of their steadfast dedication to the planet and their spirited ethos that challenges and inspires businesses worldwide. They have set the gold standard for corporate responsibility and environmental advocacy, challenging the industry to follow their example.

Here at Brighter Future, we admire Patagonia. We see their story as a call to arms - it’s a demonstration that true commitment to the betterment of the planet transcends rhetoric and marketing - it can be a lasting spark that ignites a new world of planet-driven business.

A Journey Rooted in Purpose and Passion

Patagonia's origins trace back to a backyard in Burbank, California, where Yvon Chouinard hand-crafted new equipment that spurred a revolution in outdoor climbing. Yet, it wasn't these products that made Patagonia synonymous with sustainability in business — it was their continued dedication to environmental activism and brand values that nurtured a culture of conscious consumerism.

Their monumental leap towards ethical business practices began with a bold and pivotal choice to discontinue a product line that was lucrative but detrimental to the environment. This decision was a statement: a defining moment that set the foundation for the company’s future dedication to the planet. Patagonia's brand values were no longer just a marketing ploy; they were an internal compass guiding every decision.

From Conception to Action

The tenets of Patagonia's philosophy — quality, integrity, and environmental stewardship — are not mere buzzwords but reflected in initiatives like the "Do Not Buy This Jacket" campaign, an advertisement they ran in the New York Times featuring one of their best-selling products. Instead of promoting the product, the ad was an entire page advising consumers not to buy the product by highlighting the toll of fast fashion and providing in-depth information on the cost of the item, including the amount of water, carbon footprint, and waste necessary to make the jacket.

The advertisement flipped the script on Black Friday, subverting the chaotic frenzy of consumer spending, by urging consumers to consider the environmental costs of their purchases; therefore embodying the essence of climate change action and sustainable manufacturing.

Storytelling with Soul

How does a brand keep the fires of activism burning in the hearts of its audience? For Patagonia, this means forging purposeful connections through the power of authentic storytelling.  Patagonia's tales of climbing the towering peaks of southern Chile, the namesake of the brand, are not just recollections but reflections of a deep-seated respect for the wild that they ardently protect. Their motto, "We’re in the business of the planet,” resonates because it's based on lived experience. Their stories are not just empty, concocted tales, but heartfelt actions that are etched into the very fabric of what makes them Patagonia.

Outside of their own lived experiences, the company has highlighted a plethora of stories about environmental issues, including the debate over Bears Ears National Monument, the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and their role in supporting national parks in Chile. They’ve also joined the growing visual storytelling movement by producing several films that have focused on major topics in environmental conservation, including Artifishal, which focuses on the debate over fish hatcheries; Fishpeople, about individuals who share a connection to the ocean, and They/Them, which follows the story of a non-binary climber.

Accountable, Authentic, United

Transparency is the hallmark of true leadership. Patagonia's journey is not without its stumbles, yet their response — to address, adapt, and advance — exemplifies a brand that holds itself to the highest standards of corporate responsibility. This dedication to accountability and transparency makes Patagonia a truly inspirational business.

This ethos is not just persuasive; it's a unifying force for collaborative change. Their resolve is a composite of spirited advocacy, pioneering sustainable practices, and a bold challenge to entities that threaten the wellbeing of our beautiful planet.

Brighter Future regards Patagonia as something of a paragon — they demonstrate the enduring power of brand values when anchored in authenticity and action, and serve as an excellent example for businesses that aspire to marry commercial success with ecological and social responsibility.

Inspired by Patagonia's story? Let us help you channel your values into a force for good. Reach out today.

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