#111 – I Couldn’t NOT Talk About This
Seriously, The Best Brand on the Planet
Very rarely is the news of the day something I’m interested in delving into for this newsletter, and I think that’s true for you as well (open to being told I’m wrong about that though).
But. But. One of the best brands in the world—and a personal favourite of mine—stepped fully into its Purpose last week and challenged traditional (and stale) concepts of what a business can do and be in the world. I couldn't ignore it. They showed us that business and brand building doesn’t always have to be just about money, even though it often starts there. In fact, for Patagonia, it’s about something much more important: the planet. Which for the outdoor gear company means fighting climate change and for the very survival of our species and all the other species that call earth home.
Adventures in Storytelling is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
If you haven’t heard, the founder of Patagonia, Yvon Chouinard, donated the company to the planet. Giving up his billionaire status and effectively endowing the battle for the climate with $100-million dollars a year (Patagonia’s annual profits).
In a note on the Patagonia website he wrote, “If we have any hope of a thriving planet—much less a business—it is going to take all of us doing what we can with the resources we have. This is what we can do.”
If you’ve ever taken a brand course or workshop with me, it’s likely you know that I am a Patagonia super fan and use them as my go-to example of a brand with a clearly articulated purpose and monster that doesn’t just say it believes something, but shows up every day and in every way SHOWING what it believes. Living its Purpose and creating experiences that reflect that Purpose and bringing the values that underpin it for life. I’d recommend you read Chouinard’s note on their site about the decision. There are news articles about it--it is huge news--but primary sources are my preferred way of understanding something.
This is the purest example of the process of brand storytelling. One that starts with and is grounded in Purpose, speaks clearly to a defined and understood audience, works daily toward impact, and leads to transformation. Huge transformation in this case. And no, the culmination of you business or story doesn’t have to be giving it away to a cause. BUT. But. I would challenge you to think big about your business, your career, or your clients’ business and ask yourself: what would your Patagonia moment look like? If 10, 20, 30 years from now you had fully stepped into your Purpose in all you do—the experiences you create, your communications, your ads, your marketing, your customer service, your product or offering, your emails, everything—what would that pinnacle of brand authenticity look like for you?
And if you haven’t defined a clear Purpose or conviction for your business (I'll tell you about conviction another time), what better time than now to consider it? Why do you exist? What does you brand (or you) exist to do in the world? Use it to guide you. I always tell my client that their Purpose is a North Star, meant to guide you through the unchartered paths of building a business. Start small and build on it bit by bit. See where it leads you.
Because eventually, you might be able to change your world through it.
A Story Well Told
In line with the theme of today, I want to share with you one of my favourite things on the branded internet. Patagonia's stories section on their website. I send my brand building students there often to see how consistent and long lived story telling can build to dedicated storytelling. The section includes documentaries, blog posts, and stories that highlight the things the brand values and reflects its customers. Obviously, we all don't have a $100-million dollar budget to work with (or some portion of that), but this for me is a point of inspiration for what great brand storytelling can look like over time. Explore the page, and let me know what you think in the comments about their stories and the big news from the brand. Is it something you'd ever consider? Or something like it?
Thanks for reading Adventures in Storytelling!
Subscribe for free to receive weekly insights and resources for better communication through storytelling.