Patagonia Pushes its Brand Purpose

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Spotlight on Patagonia

Not often do retailers advertise “Activism” as prominently on a website as Patagonia does—displaying the term in the navigation header with a motto that encapsulates the brand’s purpose:

“We’re in business to save our home planet.”

Even down to the word choice, Patagonia conveys brand purpose—from the use of “our,” which instills togetherness and collective responsibility, to modifying “planet” with “home,” which provides insight into the company’s open-minded and expansive view of the universe. Patagonia is among a handful of brands in the United States that models empathy, equality and a commitment to serve.

Today, the company stands to benefit from consumers’ shifting preference towards sustainable goods and materials, but Patagonia has long been forging the path that brings together environmental activism and retail.

Famously in the 1980s, the company instituted a self-imposed Earth Tax designating 1% of its annual profits for donations to grassroots environmental organizations. In the early 90s, the company began using recycled materials and by the middle of the decade was using only organic material. Today, 70% of Patagonia products are made exclusively from recycled materials and the company is driving to make its supply chain carbon neutral by 2025.

In an interview with Fast Company, CEO Rose Marcario elaborates on how the company’s social mission advances its goals as both a business and a global citizen. Asked why other successful companies—specifically “the titans of Silicon Valley”—fail to implement similar governance policies despite the means to do so, she responded:

 “Pathetic. I couldn’t face myself every day if I gave the kind of weenie answers they’ve been giving on these issues. All these guys are rich. Why don’t they just do what’s right?”

In 2018 when President Trump changed the corporate tax law from 35% to 21%, Patagonia called the move irresponsible and allocated $10 million of its annual profit to be used as a donation to organizations fighting climate change. One year later, the company  received the UN’s Champions of the Earth award, another testament to a company whose donations to better our home planet had reached the nine-figure mark.

So what does the future look like for Patagonia? Based on its history of pushing the definition of brand purpose to the edge of the Earth, literally, we think it is safe to say, Patagonia will continue to double down on activism.

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About Brand Acts of Kindness® 

Brand Acts of Kindness® is a series from Carpenter Group that spotlights companies across industries that are living their brand values in addressing the unprecedented challenges facing the world today.

The series initially headlined companies assisting healthcare workers and first responders, as well as communities, businesses and families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We also highlight brands taking the lead in supporting social and racial justice, LGBTQ rights, sustainability and the environment. Their stories show how innovation, resolve and action, built on a solid value proposition, can both strengthen a brand and help create a better world.

About Carpenter Group

Carpenter Group is an independent, woman-owned strategic branding, messaging and marketing communications firm that has delivered results-driven solutions to financial, professional services and technology firms for 30+ years.

Our broad cross-discipline experience enables us to craft brand messaging and carry it through to the channels that most effectively connect with our clients’ target audience, from editorial content to advertising to event marketing and more.