How Patagonia's Revolutionary Decision Makes It the Ultimate Purpose-Driven Brand
Updated: Jan 27
In case you missed the news, as of September 14, 2022, Yvon Chouinard, founder, and owner of the outdoor apparel brand Patagonia, and his family have sold their company shares (worth $3 billion) and placed ownership of the brand into a trust and formed a non-profit called Holdfast Collective.
Essentially, what this means is that Yvon Chouinard has restructured Patagonia's ownership so that all annual profit goes to fighting climate change and bettering the planet, thus ensuring that Mother Earth always comes first for the company.
As 1% For the Planet puts it: Earth is now Patagonia’s only shareholder.
With this revolutionary move, Patagonia further epitomizes what being a purpose-driven business truly means. It has also given us an unprecedented opportunity to examine the most extreme example of a brand committed to putting its purpose as the highest priority.
What It Means To Be A Purpose-Driven Brand
Let’s be honest, 'purpose-driven' has become a bit of a buzzword lately, almost like a trendy definition for the modern business and brand.
We've seen it defined lately in several ways, often focusing on the modern consumer's expectation that a brand SHOULD stand for something –therefore, a brand should try to be purpose-driven to appeal to the customer.
But is trying to live up to your customer's expectations really a reason to build purpose into your brand? Are you truly purpose-driven if you're doing it just because the consumer wants you to?
What A Brand Purpose Is
Your purpose is the big WHY behind your brand. Why does your brand exist? Why do you do what you do? What do you aim to achieve beyond incurring profit?
When you understand and clarify the WHY behind your outdoor business, you will build brand loyalty and inspire others to take positive action.
If you want to learn more, we dive deeply into brand purpose in this blog post, where we talk more about two halves of purpose, including your brand’s Higher Purpose, which is the global cause or challenge that your business is willing to be an ambassador for.
Your Higher Purpose goes beyond what your company does and focuses more on the bigger picture of how you want your business to positively impact something.
For example, as they state in their mission statement, Patagonia wants to “save our home planet.”
Why Patagonia Is THE Prime ‘Purpose-Driven’ Brand
Patagonia is an excellent example of what being purpose-driven means and how we feel the term ‘purpose-driven’ should be defined.
Here at Tortuga Creative Studio, we have strong opinions about what it means to be purpose-driven, and to us, being purpose-driven means:
Letting your purpose and values guide your brand because you truly believe in them, not just because it's what you think your customers or stakeholders want to hear.
Your purpose comes before money. If you're calling yourself purpose-driven because you think it will make you more money, you're not purpose-driven.
Being willing to do something radically different, something out of the box, something that just might change the world - in the name of your purpose. Not because you have to but because you won't be satisfied until you do.
You live, breathe, eat and sleep your purpose. Your purpose keeps you up at night, it's what wakes you up excited in the morning, and it's the first place you should go when you're faced with a business decision. Purpose isn't just part of your business, it's the engine that drives it.
Patagonia is not the only business in our current world that is truly purpose-driven, but they do have a great platform from which they can shout their purpose to the world.
Interested in learning about another highly ‘purpose-driven’ brand? Check out our case study on Arc’terex, where we examine their Higher Purpose and Business Purpose and how their actions positively impact the industry and the planet.
Get Inspired To Make A Bigger Impact Moving Forward
Aside from the direct impact that Patagonia’s restructuring will have on the planet, we hope that we start to see more and more decisions like this from the other big businesses of the world as business owners tap into their humanity and uncover what it truly means to be purpose-driven.
Now, we want to emphasize that you don’t have to donate ALL your profits to good causes to become a purpose-driven outdoor business. Don’t get us wrong, donating a percentage could be a great option, and we encourage you to check out the 1% Percent For The Planet Membership for more information.
But there are so many other incredible ways to weave your brand purpose into your outdoor business and take associated actions that make a positive difference –just as Patagonia has done, but maybe on a *slightly smaller scale.