In the last blog we told you about the importancy of storytelling. Most of the times brands fail their storytelling by a lack of authencity. The clothing brand Patagonia doesn’t. They have a great story with an authenticity-based focus.
Growing up Yvon Chouinard was notoriously hopeless at whatever he turned his hand to. In 1953 a 14-year-old Yvon began climbing. The sport wasn’t as well-known in America at the time. Yvon saw an opportunity to excel, and he took it. He joined a local Falconry club in Southern California and his love for the pastime grew. The excitement and intensity of rappelling down the sides of sheer cliffs meant that Yvon was instantly hooked.
Soon, Yvon and his friends began going out on excursions on their own, travelling around America to rappel down rocks. On their travels they would hop from freight train to freight train travelling from the west end of the San Fernando Valley to the sandstone cliffs of Stoney Point.
As he got older Yvon became more involved, climbing became his way of life. Environmentally conscious, Yvon noticed the damage his climbing equipment was having on the rock faces. To try and prevent further damage he began making his own equipment. This effort to look after the environment would become a driving force behind the ethos of the business. This passion soon turned into a business. He began selling his pitons (metal spikes) for $1.50 each. Yvon began supporting himself through the sale of his equipment. He began travelling around the country, climbing by day and forging by night. It wasn’t just Americas west coast where Yvon enjoyed climbing, he also took trips to mountain ranges around the world. In 1970 on a winter climbing trip in Scotland he bought a rugby shirt to wear while climbing. This was a far cry from his traditional uniform made up of cut-off chinos and white dress shirts usually bought from a thrift store.
This impulse purchase would change his life. Built to withstand the brute force of a rugby match the top withstood the climb. The collar prevented hardware slings from cutting into Yvon’s neck. He knew he was on to something. Back home Yvon continued to wear rugby jerseys while climbing. It caught on and before he knew it he had started a new fashion trend, a brightly decorated rugby jersey with a good collar was in high demand.
To keep up with growing demand Yvon ordered jerseys from Umbro in England. They sold out. He then began ordering from New Zealand and Argentina. They sold out too. The Chouinard team saw clothing as a way to support their equipment business. By 1972 they had expanded further. They were now selling rain cagoules and bivouac sacks from Scotland, boiled-wool gloves and mittens from Austria and hand-knit reversible “schizo” hats from Boulder.
As the clothing side to their company grew they decided it needed its own unique name. In 1973 Patagonia was born. A name they described as one that brings to mind “romantic visions of glaciers tumbling into fjords, jagged windswept peaks, gauchos and condors”. Since their inception Patagonia have spent decades perfecting their product. They have researched different materials, colours, working environments and environmental ethics to create their products. These are products they are proud of and ones that will promote a safer environment. Today Patagonia is one of the worlds leading environmentally friendly clothing brands. The company reaches far beyond clothing and is committed to teaching and training the next generation of environmental activists. Patagonia are doing this to continue their mission of finding a solution to the ongoing environmental crisis.
Patagonia shows us three important storytelling lessons.
1. Embody your mission
They have a simple mission statement thats tells us who they are, what they are about and what they want to achieve. This mission returns at their website, blog, social media and a lot of their content and projects. Their mission statement is designed to act as a constant reminder of the good they are doing and continually trying to do.
2. Use brand ambassadors
They have collected over 90 enthusiast users of Patagonia clothing in various outdoor activities which act as ambassadors. These users write content about the activities they do and Patagonia uses this content for their blog and social media. This way they invest in their audience engagement.
3. Engage with your audience
Next to the brand ambassadors, Patagonia also invests in other engaging tactics. They’ve got a recycling clothing initiatives, an email newsletter, feedback forms and other public engagement outreach initiatives. Patagonia is an enthusiastic and passionate brand. They believe in and are keen to spread their mission. This way they make customers feel included in the process, which makes them more engaged with the brand.
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