Three branding ideas we can learn from Patagonia
The marketing person in me loves this brand. Why? First and foremost because Patagonia has loyal customers, and every time I come across a company with loyal customers, I want to understand how they do it.
And second, because Patagonia has a brand.
A brand is an elusive term for a reason. You can’t really touch it or put it in a box. A brand is not a visual identity.
It’s not so much about what we say, the images or videos we use, but it’s about how we prove all these things, every day and with every customer interaction.
In other words, it’s the actions you take after declaring your brand that brings life to your brand.
Actions are real, raw and speak louder than words or pretty colors.
Today, I want to show you three ways in which Patagonia is proving their brand through actions. Not three things they’re saying they are, but three ways in which they’re doing something that says who they are.
1. Free repairs & worn wear
Several years ago, Patagonia started offering free repairs to anybody who needs fixing on their Patagonia items. They have a repair facility, and they also offer extensive guides on their website to help people take care of their items, so that they last longer.
They also created the “worn wear” initiative, which helps you celebrate and recycle old Patagonia items.
These are unique gestures that show their core value in action. They’re taking their love for our planet one step further with this act.
Patagonia already made environmentally friendly clothes, so its mission was already prevalent in what it was selling.
But when Patagonia started offering free repairs, they showed the world they will stand by their mission in an even bigger way.
I can only imagine this act was difficult and costly to implement.
In the end though, Patagonia won’t lose any money because of this initiative. It will probably gain even more.
First, goodwill breeds loyalty, yielding even more sales in the long term.
Second, the free repairs & worn wear initiative increases the value people perceive in Patagonia’s products. It shows they have a higher quality. It shows more love goes into making them. It shows they have a life of their own. People who own them will derive more value and will feel more connected emotionally to them. So they’ll probably return for more purchases.
2. Inspiring people to take action for causes related to its mission
Patagonia doesn’t just promote its own mission, but also other people’s fights to protect our environment.
For example, you can read about Jumbo Wild, a fight to keep the Purcell Mountains of British Columbia wild and oppose the building of a large-scale ski resort there. The company encourages its customers to stand up for this and other missions.
Stories about these missions are also given hefty real estate in Patagonia’s paper catalogs, not just on the website.
Boy, do I get excited when their catalogs arrive in the mail! For a person with a direct marketing background like me, it’s such a thrill to see direct mail that’s used for more than just selling product.
Most companies use every inch of their catalogs to promote more products, but Patagonia understands the importance of promoting its mission, in addition to its products. However, between you and me, I’d probably bring up the selling component a notch in their catalogs.
3. Showing respect for its employees
At the end of the day, Patagonia’s mission of not killing the environment while making clothes comes down to only one thing: respect for people. So, you can’t respect the planet and people, but not respect your employees.
Patagonia has been offering on site child care since 1983. What an amazing benefit for parents! Many of us wonder if we should or shouldn’t go back to work after maternity leave, but when you have child care on site that decision is so much easier. Why not go back to work?
Patagonia also offers paid paternity and maternity leave. Not a long leave, but longer than most other companies offer.
Companies that thrive because of loyal customers often understand that it’s impossible to breed customer loyalty without breeding employee loyalty first. After all, employees, not the CEO, are the ones who talk to and do the work for customers day in and day out. So it’s just common sense that if you want to have loyal customers, you have to be kind with your employees.
Now, proving your brand in ways that make sense for your business is not an activity reserved for BCorps. Whether you’re a BCorp or not, you can always find ways to prove what you stand for. Every single company in the world stands for something.
So, here’s my call to action for you: take a look at your brand and ground yourself in what you stand for. Then, find one action you can take within the next month that shows your customers what you stand for.