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Purpose-focused Communications

How Patagonia Turned Good Deeds into Good Content, and Why that’s a Good Thing

So, this blog post began as a head nod to H&M’s recycling initiatives, based on this video that caught our eye.

However, the H&M video is really more of a slick ad. What we really wanted to showcase was an example of how a brand’s “good deeds” can be turned into good storytelling and why that’s a good thing.

And the poster child for turning good deeds into good stories is, by far, Patagonia. In particular, their Worn Wear initiative, including the above video under the series title “The Stories We Wear,” is a great example.

Patagonia has a long history of being involved, as a clothing brand, with not just talking about the environment but actually tackling critical environmental issues.

As a global brand in a highly competitive product category, Patagonia stands apart because of their brand activism. Patagonia focuses upon a commitment to use their business to solve environmental problems while informing customers as well as other businesses about water quality, climate change, sustainability and fair trade issues.

Patagonia has a major pony in this race. The manufacturing and shipping of clothing has a huge environmental impact, an impact they strive to minimize. And when it comes to clothing, the single most effective thing people can do to minimize their impact is to use their clothing longer.

Yep, it’s that simple. Just by giving your clothes a longer life you can minimize environmental and labor problems.

And it is this aesthetic that Patagonia lives through Worn Wear. Worn Wear is their campaign to have clothes repaired and re-worn rather than discarded.

What’s really cool about this program is how it gave birth to really great content!

Out of the Worn Wear aesthetic Patagonia tapped into a deep wellspring of stories.

It turns out that, much like a favorite song may spark a memory of a certain time, place or someone, a well worn garment can trigger similar memories of a time, place or someone. Clothing, it turns out, is a good starting point for engaging, purpose-focused storytelling.

In addition to the above feature video story, “The Stories We Wear” is also a blog of stories submitted by customers, as well as an Instagram feed with over 65,000 followers.

We like this example of purpose-focused, brand storytelling because:

  • It’s very consistent with Patagonia’s long history of taking a stance for the environment;
  • There’s nothing ‘phony’ about this initiative;
  • They solved the big “user-generated content” challenge by tapping into the connection between their clothing, truly memorable experiences and story sharing;
  • They’re not afraid to take a risk.

Is Patagonia undermining their ability to sell new clothes? Not according to Mihela Hladin, the Environmental and Social Initiatives Manager at Patagonia, who says people will always buy new. Additionally, describes Hladin, Patagonia offers the largest textile repair center in America but since their products are of such high quality there are far more products in the stores and in use than in repair.

And starting this year, Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative will transform from an event to an online experience through Yerdle, which is a technology and logistics solution to help big brands with re-use programs.

Why is all this a “good thing?”

Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative is exemplary of a brand providing an experience that is good for the planet, good for their customers, good for their bottom line. What could be better than that?