When Patagonia's founder Yvon Chouinard declared that "Earth is now our only shareholder" last year, he significantly increased the stakes in the brand purpose game.
Practically speaking, this meant creating two organizations: the Holdfast Collective, a non-profit "dedicated to fighting the environmental crisis and defending nature," and the Patagonia Purpose Trust, which currently holds 100% of the company's voting stock and will "protect the company's values." The firm stated that any revenues that were not spent in Patagonia would "be distributed as dividends to protect the planet."
The news generated a media frenzy, but in many respects Patagonia's decision to put purpose over profit since its founding was a natural, if major, move. It laid down the gauntlet to other brands, offering a genuine and legitimate example of how business may be utilized for "good" in our perplexing age of "purpose-washing" (where brands trumpet good deeds in their marketing campaigns which can frequently hide harmful practices).
But a strategy this aggressive might also be perceived as overwhelming; how do most brands compare? Maybe not by slavishly following Patagonia's lead, but by taking inspiration from some of its specific projects, such as focusing on quality and a stronger emphasis on mending rather than throwing away things.
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