What does authenticity look like?
Patagonia is a great example of an authentic brand that talks the talk, and walks the walk. Founded by Yvon Chouinard as a means to supply himself and his “dirtbag climber” friends with quality equipment, it has grown into a global brand without sacrificing its mission to “Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis.”
In one ad for a wetsuit, they demonstrate their commitment to sustainability by making their innovative new method of synthesizing bio rubber available for other companies to utilize. Any profits they might lose in sharing the bio rubber are an investment in brand loyalty. They know that their customers aren’t interested in supporting a company that keeps groundbreaking new sustainable practices to themselves.
Patagonia’s efforts prove that a company can generate strong sales and be a champion of social responsibility. Whether utilizing a marketing campaign to spur action for a social movement or creating a partnership with a specific non-profit organization, Patagonia makes it easier for consumers to give back and do good through “cause marketing.”
Cause marketing drives sales. According to a Cone Cause Evolution Survey, 87 percent of consumers have said they would switch from one brand to another if the other brand were associated with a good cause.
In Patagonia’s case, the good cause is preventing environmental degradation, which works because their reason for existing – providing quality products for outdoor adventures – relies on conservation for its continued existence. Their cause marketing is authentic because the core business values are an extension of the values of “climbers and surfers” whose “love of wild and beautiful places demands participation in the fight to save them.”
Patagonia doesn’t do much direct selling in their ads, on social media, or in their videos on the website. Instead, they’ve crafted a compelling brand story that inspires their customers to co-create (via worn-wear stories) and own a piece of the brand story.
When it comes to brand stories, fan support makes all the difference. Great brands are created through consumer passion or word-of-mouth.
Companies like Patagonia understand how each action, across every channel, adds to the story and creates an opportunity to produce brand advocates. By spreading an authentic message and giving customers a voice, they also give them a means to advocate on their behalf and influence others.